Amy Gregory has a passion to protect, and when a customer at
Paramount Title was defrauded of $130,000, Amy pulled out all the stops to
track down the funds and then went above and beyond to ensure no customer of
hers would ever fall victim to wire fraud again.
Our story begins with an innocuous email delivered to our
homebyer on June 18, which appeared to come from the lender’s office. The email
informed our buyer that a representative from Paramount Title would call her to
confirm receipt of the funds to close.
Someone called the buyer, but it wasn’t us. A fraudster
named “Jimmy” on the other end of the line confirmed wire instructions for a
specific bank account, with the account name referencing Paramount Title, and
instructed our buyer to send funds in the amount of $130,000.
Our buyer wired the funds.
The following day our buyer checked her account and saw the
wire had been returned to her account. She replied to the email thread with the
fraudster from the previous day asking if she knew what happened and why the
funds were returned.
The fraudster told her the company’s escrow account was
under its annual tax audit and that is why her funds were returned. Then he
gave our buyer new wiring instructions for another bank account. Our buyer
called “Jimmy,” who confirmed the new writing instructions were correct.
Our buyer wired the funds again.
On June 20, our buyer received another email from the
fraudster stating there was an issue with the wire. The fraudster asked our
buyer to call her bank and request a hold be lifted off the wire. Tragically,
our buyer called her bank and obtained the federal reference number for the
The next day a representative from the receiving bank called
to say they flagged her wire transfer and they were not going to release the
funds yet because it looked suspicious.
That’s when our buyer decided to look up the title company. She then called us, the real Paramount Title, and shared her story. Our office confirmed we don’t employ anybody by the name of “Jimmy” – and this was most definitely a case of wire fraud.
This is where Amy swoops into the picture.
Amy was quick to discuss all options for our buyer to report
the crime, including offering to report the issue on her behalf. Amy contacted our
US Secret Service agent (YES, we actually have a US Secret Service agent in our
rolodex to help us in these “special” circumstances), finally reaching him at
10 o’clock at night to discuss the details of the file.
Amy wanted to see if the agent could provide any assistance
on what our buyer could do to get her money back. She conferenced in our buyer,
so she could speak directly with the agent. The agent then offered to call the
“fraudsters” bank and see how they could help.
On June 22, thanks to Amy’s tireless efforts driven by a
passion to protect, the full amount of the wire was returned to our buyer. Our
buyer closed on her home two weeks later.
“I spoke with the client shortly after the ordeal was over,
and she expressed to me how good it felt that someone had her back through the
process,” said Andrea Somers, Compliance Officer for the Florida Agency
Network. “Amy truly goes above and beyond in everything that she does.”
But our story doesn’t end there, because Amy went above and
beyond to ensure no customer of hers would ever fall victim to wire fraud
First, she implemented the website “www.inquirebeforeyouwire.com,”
a message we now we blast everywhere we can. When we receive a new contract, our
customer is informed of this very real threat. When a customer receives an
email from us, they see the Inquire Before You Wire image. It doesn’t matter
how small, or big, the transaction is.
She also implemented additional processes where phone calls
are made to the contacts on each file, to discuss wire fraud, the current fraud
trends being seen in our industry and to lay out exactly how the client will
receive wire instructions.
What’s more, Amy decided to go one step further by achieving
the Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (CAMS) certification. This
achievement demonstrates Amy’s commitment and leadership in protecting our
clients and our industry. Amy feels we have a duty to protect and serve the
Amy’s passion to protect pushes our team to uphold the same
standard of care, to protect and try to prevent tragic situations involving
wire fraud from occurring on our watch again.
Must-See Educational Sessions at ALTA ONE 2019
ALTA ONE is next week, October 22-25th at the
Fairmont Hotel in Austin, Texas. It’s an important event bringing together
leaders in the title industry to swap new ideas and business practices in
educational sessions that really work.
As always, there’s a lot of content! ALTA ONE will cover a range
of hot topics, so which sessions are a must-attend?
We enlisted the help of Nathan Marinchick, Director of Research
and Educational Programming at Alliant National, to help identify the top 10
education sessions you may want to place on your ALTA ONE dance card next week.
Wednesday, October 23, 2019
9:00 am – 10:00 am OMNI SESSION: THE POWER OF PURPOSE
CEO, Diane Tomb, will share her vision for the coming year and what she sees as
the industry’s greatness opportunities and weaknesses. And Entrepreneur, author
and “ad man” Roy Spence will help ignite your “epiphany of purpose” during this
keynote — Have you found your purpose? What motivates you? What truly drives
your company? Discover and fulfill your purpose.
10:30 am – 11:30 am NOTABLE:
TEXAS TITLE AGENTS ARE ROCKING WITH RON
In 2018, Texas became the 3rd
state to permit remote online notarization. This session will provide a
first-hand perspective on implementing RON in your operation. As RON becomes
legal in your state you won’t want to miss this opportunity to learn from early
1:00 pm – 1:30 pm ENGAGEMENT LAB: COMMERCIAL BUSINESS:
GETTING YOUR FEET WET WITHOUT SINKING THE BOAT
This lab is designed to demonstrate how your title and closing
skills and experience have given you a solid foundation to explore the world of
commercial real estate transactions with confidence.
2:00 pm – 3:00 pm NOTABLE: RESPA 411
This session will review the latest cases and enforcement
actions on RESPA, affiliated businesses, and marketing services agreements.
Come with your questions and discuss the latest trends in RESPA compliance. Experts
will address the future of the CFPB and enforcement actions.
3:30 pm – 4:00 pm ENGAGEMENT LAB: BUILDING A FLEXIBLE
Our industry is facing significant changes from a staffing standpoint. How do you face the challenges of finding new people when you have a retirement or just the everyday turnover? What does flexibility in your workforce look like and how can you successfully adapt your business to recruit and retain new staff through these changes? Join this lab to discuss these challenges and brainstorm solutions.
3:30 pm – 4:00 pm ENGAGEMENT LAB: CULTURE AUDIT WITH ALLIANT NATIONAL’S BOB GRUBB
Culture is central to the health of an organization. However,
it is often invisible to those in it, making it difficult to understand what
our culture is, and more importantly, what areas require improvement. This is
why a culture audit is a good idea. Join this lab to learn how this process
works and what to do with the results.
Thursday, October 24, 2019
8:45 am – 10:00 am OMNI SESSION: FROM THE DARK WEB TO WALLSTREET (SPONSORED BY INCENTER TECHNOLOGY)
Fraud keeps us up at night. Listen to two local law enforcement detectives
involved in a headline-making case in which money was stolen, then recovered,
through a wire fraud incident. Additionally, an Austin based Realtor will
discuss how unsuspecting clients can fall victim to wire fraud schemes. And Cybersecurity
is top-of-mind for all of us, whether we’re thinking about our professional or
personal lives. The director of cybersecurity for Morgan Stanley Wealth
Management and Investment Technology, Rachel Wilson, knows exactly the dangers
you face. Wilson will share her expertise on how best to protect your business
and avoid falling prey to scams and attacks.
10:30 am – 11:30 am NOTABLE: PROPOSED ALTA POLICY FORMS – WHAT’S COVERED, WHAT’S NOT?Title insurance is what we sell, so it’s imperative to know when coverages change. Hear from two ALTA Forms Committee experts about the proposed updates to the 2006 policies. You will be introduced to the new versions, know why changes were made, and what they mean for your business.
12:30 pm – 1:30 pm NOTABLE: THE
UNEXPECTED BENEFITS OF DIGITAL CLOSINGS
Often when we talk about digital closings,
we talk about what’s in it for the consumer or lender. But you should also
focus on the benefits that digital closing can bring to your operation. In this
session, learn how digital closing technology can change your workflow and
improve efficiency – while also providing the more convenient and prompt
closing your consumers and lenders want.
12:30 pm – 1:30 pm NOTABLE: 8 LEGIT WAYS TO MARKET YOUR CULTURE TO HUMANS UNDER 40
If you’re job searching and under the age of 40, you’re probably not going to get excited about a job that offers “competitive benefits” and a “standard work week” with “two weeks of paid vacation.” Sorry, title pros! The new wave of employees has different expectations and you do have to adapt and market your values differently. Take home 8 great ideas to attract talented employees for your business.
We celebrated a major milestone today after issuing our one millionth Closing Protection Letter. We took a moment to celebrate the accomplishment with sheet cake and party poppers. Alliant National agent Texas Lone Star Title made the CPL request at 3:04 Mountain Time.
The most critical real estate knowledge is always local
Independent agents understand the history and intricate nuances of real estate in your community. This is especially important when time is of the essence.
They are the only independent party in a real estate transaction
Independent agents are there to protect all parties in the transaction and assure an accurate, speedy and timely closing. They conduct an average of 135 steps on each real estate transaction that include critical assurances to buyers, lenders and sellers in order to validate the right to use and transfer real estate.
Independent agents are local and accessible to you
They live in your area and will be there when you have a claim – they will help you as long as you own your property. Independent title agents are skilled professionals who have the local understanding and expertise to protect you.
They can help you with every real estate transaction you have and don’t leave town when times get tough!
They own businesses in your neighborhood and support your community
Local title offices are staffed by talented professionals who help your county maintain and keep the records system updated to protect the ownership of those buying real estate.
These professionals volunteer in your schools, belong to your community organizations, coach youth sports, and have a real, viable lifelong interest in the success of your community.
They live in your community and provide jobs to your neighbors.
- They pay real estate taxes and payroll taxes where you live.
- They are an integral part of the fabric of your community, investing and volunteering in local charitable and community organizations!
- They help collect back child support, pay to improve county records, help collect delinquent taxes and much more.
Our independent agents share our core values
Alliant National partners with only the finest independent title insurance agents – those who have earned solid reputations and demonstrated consistent ability to weather the ups and downs of the business cycle. You can be sure that our partners share our values of integrity, community involvement, quality and responsiveness.
Click here for a list of our independent agents in your area. ]]>
The American Land Title Association issued its Title Insurance and Settlement Company Best Practices to protect consumers, which pertain to seven operational areas. Best Practices is a voluntary tool designed to help title companies demonstrate the safeguards they have in place to ensure closing activities meet all applicable laws and regulations.
1. Licensing: Establish and maintain current license(s) as required to conduct the business of title insurance and settlement services.
Purpose: Maintaining state mandated insurance licenses and corporate registrations (as applicable) ensures that the company remains in good standing with the state.
2. Escrow / Trust Accounting: Adopt and maintain appropriate written procedures and controls for Escrow Trust Accounts allowing for electronic verification of reconciliation.
Purpose: Appropriate and effective escrow controls and staff training help title and settlement companies meet client and legal requirements for the safeguarding of client funds. These procedures ensure accuracy and minimize the exposure to loss of client funds. Settlement companies may engage outside contractors to conduct segregation of trust accounting duties.
3. Privacy + Information Security: Adopt and maintain a written privacy and information security plan to protect Non-public Personal Information as required by local, state and federal law.
Purpose: Federal and state laws (including the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act) require title companies to develop a written information security program that describes their procedures to protect non-public customer information. The program must be appropriate to the company’s size and complexity, the nature and scope of the company’s activities, and the sensitivity of the customer information the company handles. A company evaluates and adjusts its program in light of relevant circumstances, including changes in the firm’s business or operations, or the results of security testing and monitoring.
4. Document Recordation / Title + Settlement Pricing: Adopt standard real estate settlement procedures and policies that ensure compliance with Federal and State Consumer Financial Laws as applicable.01/02/2013
Purpose: Adopting appropriate policies and conducting ongoing employee training can ensure that a real estate settlement company can meet state, federal and contractual obligations governing the settlement process and provide a safe and compliant settlement.
5. Title Policy Production / Premium Remittance: Adopt and maintain written procedures related to title policy production, delivery, reporting and premium remittance.
Purpose: Appropriate procedures for the production, delivery and remittance of title insurance policies ensures title companies meet their legal and contractual obligations.
6. Professional Liablity Insurance + Fidelity Coverage: Maintain appropriate professional liability insurance and fidelity coverage.
Purpose: Appropriate levels of professional liability (errors and omissions insurance) ensure that title agencies and settlement companies have the financial capacity to stand behind their professional services. In addition, state law and contractual obligations may require a company to maintain fidelity bond and surety bond policies with prescribed minimum amounts of coverage.
7. Consumer Complaints: Adopt and maintain procedures for resolving consumer complaints.
Purpose: A process for receiving and addressing consumer complaints is important to ensure that any instances of poor service or non-compliance do not go undiscovered.