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Madison County woman scammed out of thousands of dollars while closing on house

Published: Jul. 9, 2021 at 10:05 PM CDT
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HARVEST, Ala. (WAFF) - When you find the right house, you have to jump on it. It’s just that kind of market right now.

This makes home buyers a prime target for scammers.

Stacey Smith, a Veteran, single mother with a baby on the way was just scammed out of $6,000.

The night before closing on her first home in Harvest, Smith got an email that appeared to be from her loan agency, Veterans United, asking her to wire transfer money for the closing costs.

“And I sent it. It was the day before closing, I was thinking it was them,” Smith said.

But that wasn’t the case.

“Closing day, which was the 22nd, I get the call from the closing agency asking me, did anybody reach out to you about your closing cost. And I said yes, I wired that money yesterday and she said that wasn’t us,” Smith explained.

A scammer hacked into Smith’s email created a fake email account and posed as the secretary of the closing agency.

“The panic set in. I called my bank. I called the receiving bank to see what could be done. And long story short, nothing happened of it. The bank couldn’t get my money back,” she said.

“The scammers have got this down to a pretty good fine art on how to do this and it’s very successful for them, unfortunately,” Zelda Friedman said.

Zelda Friedman, the president of the Huntsville Association of Area Realtors says this scam is very common and isn’t slowing down.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, here is her first piece of advice.

“Pick up the phone and say, ‘hey, I just got an email, and it’s from you guys and it has these instructions on it, is this from you,” Freidman said.

But if possible, go into the office to verify the instructions in person.

Smith’s mother, Stephanie Mitchell says she hopes the loan agency will provide education about these scams in the future.

“I’m very proud of Stacey for speaking up to help someone because she was leery and I’m sure other people have gone through this and didn’t want to speak up as well, because it’s embarrassing, it’s hurtful,” Mitchell said.

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