How to Prevent Wire Fraud
Just like that, AJ fell victim to wire fraud and lost his entire life savings.
Cornell Law School has listed five elements that must be present to meet the definition of wire fraud:
- The accused must have been engaged in a scheme to commit fraud
- The scheme must have involved a lie or omission
- The scheme resulted or would have resulted in the loss of money, property or services
- The accused used or intended to use wire communications (e.g., radio, television, wire) to commit fraud
- The accused used interstate wire communications to commit fraud
Internet scams are also a form of wire fraud. It's a tale as old as the internet: a prince or a government official from a faraway land contacts you in dire need. According to victims of this scam, once contacted by said prince or government official, they are convinced to assist in transferring millions out of the country they represent with the promise that some of the money will stay in the victim’s account. Unfortunately for the victim, there is no prince or government official, and they just lost all the money in their account.
A different common type of wire fraud involves social security. A scammer will call the victim and claim to be from the Social Security Administration (SSA) and will urgently warn the victim that their Social Security number has been suspended due to suspicious or illegal activity. The scammer will threaten the victim with legal action unless the victim provides personal information. If a victim gets overwhelmed and complies with the scammer, all their money can be wired out within seconds.
Scammers will use the tool of urgency to cause the victim to panic and comply with whatever the scammer is asking for. Deadlines will be pushed, words like “now” and “immediately” will be used, and the scammers will try anything to cause the victim to become flustered. If you are to ever receive a phone call like this, we urge you to hang up and freshly dial the agency, company, financial institution, or whoever else called to confirm this interaction.
Another way to protect yourself from wire fraud is to be aware of what the other person on the line can or cannot confirm. Ask them to verify their identity and if they try to change the subject or fail to tell you who they are and who they work for, that is a warning sign that the person you are speaking to may be a fraudster.
Even if you feel it is too early, always ask your real estate agent what procedures will be done or needed when it comes to transferring down payments or closing costs. By knowing ahead of the actual closing date, you’ll have a better chance of spotting a scammer if one reaches out to you.
The second you think you may have fallen victim to wire fraud, contact your financial institution immediately. You can also contact your city's local FBI office to report wire fraud.
Next, notify the FBI of the crime via the IC3’s online complaint referral form. Keep track of your IC3 Complaint Number because you will need that in the next step.
Once you’ve got your number, reach out to your local FBI office and provide them with the IC3 Complaint Number. Provide the agent who handles cyber crimes with your IC3 number and all the information you have over the alleged crime that took place.
Contact local law enforcement as well, call your police station and file a report. As you did with the FBI agent, give them all information regarding the wire fraud and save the police report case number.
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As an active part of the community for 92 years, Neighborhood Credit Union is a not-for-profit financial organization serving the state of Texas with branch locations in Collin, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, and Tarrant counties. With assets topping $1 billion, Neighborhood Credit Union has a continuously growing membership of over 60,000. For more information, call (214) 748-9393 or visit our homepage.