inquire before you wire
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 wire.
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 again.
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 clients.
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.