< Back
Wire Transaction Fraud: Impact on All Areas of Practice
Post on December 6th, 2022

OBLIC has recently seen an uptick in the number of claims arising out of wire transaction fraud.  Title agents and lawyers completing real estate closings, once a hotbed of wire transaction fraud, have been peppered with warnings over the last several years to have procedures in place to reduce the potential for these claims. In addition to numerous past Alerts from OBLIC, title insurance companies have provided best practice recommendations as well as requirements for their agents when completing a wire transaction.  However, we are now seeing wire transaction fraud target other areas of practice.

Specifically, we have received reports of incidents of wire transaction fraud occurring with (1) lawyers attempting to complete settlement payments on behalf of their clients; (2) email hosting sites being hacked by third parties to redirect emails and solicit wire transactions from clients; and, (3) sophisticated and opportunistic new schemes targeting a domestic relations firm and an employment defense firm.  Criminals have a keen interest in targeting law firms of all type, size and practice area.

We recommend ALL firms, regardless of area of practice, to familiarize themselves and their staff (train, train, train) with the following recommended practices to reduce the potential for wire fraud when handling a wire transaction:

  • Enable multi-factor authentication on all email accounts and routinely check for improperly created email rules that would misdirect email traffic.
  • Verify ALL wiring instructions through a phone call via a verified number to the party providing the instructions prior to initiating the wire.
  • Verify the wire transaction successfully transferred the funds to the intended recipient via a phone call to a verified phone number.
  • Make sure all staff who take calls from clients or handle funds know the proper procedure for the firm. If your office does not commonly issue wire transactions, make sure everyone on the staff knows what to do in the event a client calls to confirm wire instructions purportedly sent by the firm.

OBLIC’s Cyber Toolbox allows you to launch a Phishing Simulation for your firm. Phishing is the most common way third parties gain access to your system. Once these criminals have gained access, they have been successful in soliciting wire transactions from clients posing as the attorney, and have masked and altered wire instructions that were received by the firm.  Click here to get started. 

If you have ANY questions about a wire transfer, pick up the phone and make the call.  We’re here to help and welcome your calls.

Gretchen K. Mote, Esq.
Director of Loss Prevention
Ohio Bar Liability Insurance Co.
Direct:  614 572 0620
[email protected]
Monica Waller, Esq.
Senior Loss Prevention Counsel
Ohio Bar Liability Insurance Co.
Direct:  614 859 2978
[email protected]