November, 2018 NewsBlog

VOTE!       VOTE!       VOTE!      VOTE!       VOTE!


GRIM TALES FROM THE ESCROW DESK – Yes, fraud happens and close to home!

November, 2018 NewsBlogA couple of Fridays ago, right before the Columbus Day long weekend, a Fraudster tried to get their hands on one of our Buyer’s final down payment funds. Here is what happened:

We received a frantic call from a Buyer stating that he had wired funds to us using wire instructions he had received from his agent. The wire instructions had our company name on the top, but the name of the account was a third party. He went ahead and wired, putting our name as the recipient.

What? We immediately went into panic mode. We had not asked for funds; it was too early to do so. We did not send the wire instructions! Immediately we told the Buyer to call both the sending and receiving banks and tell them “FRAUD!!!” to stop the process. We also told him to put a call in to the FBI and the D.A’s office.

Who got hacked? Us? The Buyer? Who gave him the instructions? Apparently, it came from the real estate agent. Unbeknownst to the agent, his email account was hacked some time ago and a fraudster diverted his emails from his Inbox to the Trash Bin. Then, using the agent’s email, the fraudster sent the fake wire instruction. Although the instructions did not match our original instructions given to the Buyer at the opening of the transaction, the Buyer blindly wired out and then, realizing that the instructions looked strange, called us in a panic. Really? Called us after the fact?

There is, thankfully, a happy ending. The receiving bank questioned why the wire was directed to a Viva Escrow when the name on the bank account was different. They rejected the wire and returned it to the sending bank. My Buyer was very, very lucky that this receiving bank actually tried to match the name on the wire to the account name. Many don’t and that was what the fraudster was counting on. My Buyer got his $80,000 back right after Columbus Day.

What did we learn? First, the real estate agent either used a weak password for their email or it got stolen and had all of their transactions exposed. Be aware of what is going on within your emails, take email security more seriously!

Second, the Buyer should have been more observant and immediately questioned why the wire instructions were so different from the one he received directly from us in the beginning. Not only that, he should have called us first before he initiated the wire to confirm!

Third, these stories rarely have such a happy ending and whether they do or not, they need to be shared so that everyone is educated.

Our client dodged the bullet. Not everyone who is a victim is so lucky.


Midterm elections are in a few days and throughout the last two weeks all Americans were inundated with calls or texts to vote, for one candidate or another, for one proposition or another. Robocalling and telemarketers seem to be a sign of the modern times and such an annoyance! Wastes my time! Here is an article on this very frustrating issue. What caught my interest was that the article talks about “callers pretending to be from the Chinese consulate demanding money to settle a criminal matter.” Yep. Been on their dial sphere, for sure. I get these phone calls daily and have several of these voicemails still saved on my phone.

What can we do? One thing you can try is to put your phone number on the FTC’s National Do Not Call Registry. It may not always help but it may keep some telemarketers away.


… is what I asked a client with special refinance issues on his residence. I have an Escrow Officer, Rebecca Barasorda, who specializes in handling Reverse Mortgage transactions and I put him in touch with her. The refinance market has slowed down to a trickle as the interest rates have risen steadily, so I asked Rebecca if Reverse Mortgages were also being affected? They are, she said, but it’s just a matter of hanging in there and letting the market adjust itself because its time is coming!

Then I came across this article a couple of months ago which gave clarity to her comment. One paragraph in it made absolute total sense: “ … 77 million Baby Boomers who are turning 65 at a rate of 10,000 each day …. By 2030, more than a quarter of the U.S. population will be older than 65.” And the next paragraph from Dave Peskin, president of Reverse Mortgage funding, “The number of people over age 62 continues to grow…and people who have depleted their savings are looking to age in place. What better way to age in place and take care of yourself in retirement than letting the equity in your home work for you.” (See full article here) Wow! Turned on the light bulb!

Not only that, what makes Rebecca additionally happy is that the older generation is now realizing that they can use a Reverse Mortgage to purchase a home.

If you are interested in finding out more about “Reverse” call us and talk to Rebecca. She has been doing this type of transaction for almost 10 years and has a checklist of what to look for to make it a smooth transaction.

Interesting subject to be as I just turned 65 and am part of this demographic.


If I gave myself $1.00 for every time I say, “The future is here,” I would probably be a able to put a down payment on a nice half a mil condo in my area. Yes, the future is “here”, right now. With how quickly technology changes, if you blink, you will have missed it.

Wells Fargo and Bank of America have reported on the success of their digital mortgage applications in this article.  With these two behemoth lending institutions taking charge, it becomes important for the smaller companies to jump on the bandwagon if they want to compete for the Millennial business. It is not a big stretch from digital mortgage applications to full digital E-Closings. There are innovative lending companies who are already claiming partial (hybrid) E-Closings. Once the two big ones gear their platforms towards that goal it will be all over for those good ole days of handwritten this and hard signing that.

Are you answering the call or are you letting it go to voicemail?


I don’t think so. As stated in the article above, Loan Officers will still be needed because there will still be consumers who won’t know how to answer that call.

For those of you who are these Loan Officers, according to the US News & World Report your job is #57 out of 100 of the best jobs. Here is the write up from This is based on highest median salaries, lowest unemployment rates and greatest amount of recent growth. Also included are stress levels, flexibility and work-life balance associated with each job.

First profession on the list is the software developer, then the dentist (surprise!). The physician is #10, and the lawyer #33. Last on the list of 100 is the substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselor. Ouch. The Escrow Officer does not even come up in the radar. And here is the full list from US News & World Report.


Talking about telemarketing brings up this story of a fraud scam by Michael Davenport, a former bassist for the band called The Ataris. He masterminded a multi million dollar mail scam  by targeting more than 100,000 people who were looking for homes for sale or rent. By using telemarketing methods his business sold to unsuspecting victims fake lists of such opportunities for $199, to a tune of $25 million. Did he really think he was going to be able to get away with this?


Tongue in cheek! Real estate agents sit up and take notice! The real estate FOR SALE sign may see some changes! It may be that the standard iconic sign of the L post and sign hanging from the short side will be evolving into an aesthetically and functionally innovative form. Take a look at the new concept at this link.  Wouldn’t you like to be the first to have this sign on your listing ?!


The net neutrality law that passed on September 30th is not the only law that brings California to the forefront, even though it is on hold right now pending federal lawsuits aimed at it. With the passing of SB 826 California has declared that any publicly traded company headquartered in California must have at least one female sitting on the corporate board, and two or more if there are five or more persons on the board. This is definitely a step that will bring more diversification yet at the same time, homogeneity. With all the travails that have hit our political and social spheres the last few months, it does California proud that this bill passed at this particular time. Here is the article and what is being said about the consequences.


Click here for my funny for the month, embodied in a little cartoon strip on why considerable thought should be given to naming your pet in this day and age. I may have laughed when I saw this but that is because my family can relate! Can yours? For those of you who have no pets, just pretend a virtual Fido is slobbering under the table and go from there!

And finally….

… amusing (slightly political and offbeat) commentary that I picked up at random from the Internet of all things. Don’t be offended!

Classifying male sports:
1. The sport of choice for the urban poor is BASKETBALL.
2. The sport of choice for maintenance level employees is BOWLING.
3. The sport of choice for front-line workers is FOOTBALL.
4. The sport of choice for supervisors is BASEBALL.
5. The sport of choice for middle management is TENNIS.
6. The sport of choice for corporate executives and officers is GOLF.

The amazing fact is, the higher you go in the corporate structure, the
smaller your balls become.

There must be a boat load of people in Washington playing marbles.

A Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! We shall meet again in a few short weeks for the last edition of this newsblog for 2018!