The latest “WFG Insights” is an in-depth interview with WFG cybersecurity expert Bruce Phillips, SVP & Chief Information Security Officer at Williston Enterprise Solutions & Technology, LLC (“WEST”), a WFG company. Phillips provides an overview of the daily destructive threat of cybercrime and wire fraud in real estate transactions, primarily through unsecure, overused e-mail communication.
Phillips, who runs WESTprotect™ within WFG National Title Insurance Company, provides staggering statistics: The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center’s (“IC3”) figures show more than 467,000 cyber fraud events reported in 2019 with total losses over $3.5 billion. The largest part of the losses in 2019 was due to wire fraud, at $1.7 billion. The IC3’s latest figures show more than 791,000 cyber fraud events reported in 2020 (a 69% increase in total complaints), with total losses over $4.1 billion. The largest part of the losses from 2020 was due to wire fraud, at $1.8 billion.
When the FBI started tracking cybercrime in 2014, Phillips says that losses to what the FBI calls “Business E-mail Compromise” were only $50 million. Since then, “about $4.5 billion has been lost simply to wire fraud and it’s north of $9 billion for cyber fraud.”
Not surprisingly, Phillips says, real estate is the primary target for cybercriminals. The reason is simple – that is where the money is. According to Phillips, for today’s cybercriminals and global syndicates trolling the Internet for vulnerable businesses and consumers, the cost of doing business is less than a couple thousand dollars while the return on a single success averages $140,000.
Check out the full half-hour interview for much more background on cybercrime, including ways to guard against it. For more information on WESTprotect™, WFG’s cybersecurity protection and education service, please visit WESTprotect.com.