A Winter Park title company fell victim to an email scam this summer and unwittingly paid $160,000 for a mortgage that ended up in the bank account of a Midwesterner with ties to overseas criminal enterprises, according to federal court documents.
The federal complaint doesn’t name the Florida title company but does detail how the scheme unfolded after the title company got emails and documents that seemed authentic.
The title company’s client sold property and $160,342 was supposed to be paid at closing to the mortgage holder, according to the complaint filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court’s Orlando division.
The title company’s closing agent emailed the property seller to get documents from the seller’s ex-wife to finish the deal. He quickly got a response in his inbox one minute later from someone who he thought was the seller. Only it wasn’t. Fraudsters had spoofed the seller’s email, according to the federal complaint.
The “seller” asked for a copy of the payoff statement and then pointed out a “minor mistake.” The agent later received a fake document from the “lender” with new instructions to wire the money to a different account. The closing agent eventually sent $160,342 to a JPMorgan Chase bank account as he was told to pay off the mortgage loan.
Two weeks later, the seller learned he hadn’t paid the mortgage that month. The seller contacted the closing agent to figure out what happened, and that’s what alerted the title company of…