By Susan Shackleford
This spring Linda Hoverman O’Neal was working with a couple buying their retirement home when a cyber thief nearly stole the buyers’ down payment — a whopping $257,000.
And, because the crook had perpetrated the fraud by hacking into her email account and sending fraudulent wiring instructions to the buyers, Hoverman O’Neal learned she would likely have been on the hook legally for the funds if they had been stolen.
“Both S.C. and N.C. Realtor® (association) legal departments assured me that if the funds were not recovered, without a doubt, the buyers could sue and win the case against me and most probably my company, lender and anyone involved in the trail of communication,” Hoverman O’Neal wrote in a Facebook post.
“Why?” she continued. “We owe to our clients safety and security in all communication, including email communication. My email address placed my client at risk, and, yes, in the eyes of the law, it would be my fault.”
Hoverman O’Neal, who has been in real estate sales since 1985, notes it wouldn’t take more than one or two such instances before most brokers and their firms would be bankrupt and out of business. “Thirty-plus years of hard work could, and would, go up in smoke in a lawsuit that the buyer would have no choice but to file and would win,” says the broker with RE/MAX Metro Realty in Charlotte. Continue Reading
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