A few years ago, jokes about self-driving cars and robot assistants were just that: jokes.
But now, with technology ever evolving, artificial intelligence and cyber-advancement are all too real.
Some sectors have kept up incredibly well, but others can fall prey to unscrupulous characters on the world wide web.
Real estate investors should be wary of scam artists and hackers that make a living off of $3,860,000 in stolen money.
Let me tell you how to protect your real estate investments from becoming victims.
I’m sure you’ve heard about viruses, malware programs, and other insidious things that can take place on your computer.
If you haven’t, the gist of the problem is for every good thing you can do online, three more bad ones can happen to you.
Just like real-life thieves, internet hackers scour the cybersphere for unsuspecting victims who are all too willing to transfer money over the Internet.
Don’t fall for it!
Research shows that the real estate industry in particular is susceptible to online attacks.
So much so that recent security policies have been implemented in some of the biggest real estate names out there.
But you may ask, why is it so easy?
Real estate as a whole is not particularly technologically sophisticated.
Granted, in recent years, devices like online alarm systems, smart fridges, and even digital personal assistants have found their way into commercial and residential properties alike.
That may sound like a good thing, because the more advanced technology is, the less likely its users are to fall victim to fraud, right?
Before all these new gadgets, real estate fraud was primarily conducted through phony email correspondence.
Dubbed Business Email Compromise, or BEC, scammers impersonate someone involved in a real estate deal, whether it’s an agent, supplier, seller, or buyer.
They then demand an immediate payment for some run-of-the-mill expense in real estate transactions.
And so, as the diligent real estate investor keen on happy tenants and large profits, you send whatever they require so as to keep bad blood and sloppy deals out of the question.
Unfortunately for you, that payment worth thousands of dollars (as they tend to be), just flooded the bank account of some hacker living large on fraud money.
You’re down and out a couple of digits AND your real estate deal is compromised.
Now these scam artists have become more advanced in their treachery.
Not only do they continue to find new ways to commit BECs, but they have learned how to emulate bank login pages.
You may think you’re logging into your secure and trustworthy bank account, but in reality, you’re just paying a crooked criminal to take advantage of you.
But don’t worry, if you’re concerned that your real estate interests could be harmed by these activities, I have a couple of solutions for you.
First, communication with the actual parties you’re working with is key.
Make sure everyone involved knows exactly how money is going to be transferred and set up a system to confirm that the correct person is receiving it.
Never send money through an email.
Second, take steps to monitor and secure all of your online devices.
It can be difficult to babysit a smart fridge all day, but you should try to have eyes on your connections to make sure no unauthorized entries occur.
The largest mistake I see real estate investors make is set up their whole life with interconnectivity, and then not investing time or money to secure it.
Lastly, be cognizant of who you’re dealing with.
You can never be too careful these days, and when anyone can upload a photo online claiming it’s them, it’s so difficult to tell who from who.
Connect with your traditional side and schedule face-to-face meetings for important payments.
You may also want to consider a strong anti-virus or digital protection program.
Real estate fraud is a $1.3 billion business, and if you fall victim, you won’t be getting a chunk of those profits. You’ll be paying dearly for them.
So, keep that in mind next time you get a fishy email or unsettling notification.
Protect your interests today so you can continue to build a wealth empire tomorrow.