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Rip-Off Alert: Hacker sets up fake email account to scam homebuyers

Years of hard-earned savings were gone in an instant after a person hacked the email of a couple working on their dream home. (KSNV)

Years of hard-earned savings were gone in an instant after a person hacked the email of a couple working on their dream home.

After years of searching, Paul LeBlance and his wife, Erika, were finally ready to close on their lakefront home. Little did they know, a hacker had infiltrated the email chain about the home purchase.

The hacker posed as the title company and emailed Paul instructions on how to wire transfer their down payment. It wasn't until the closing that Paul discovered their money was gone.

"Panic would be the first thing that came to my mind," he said.

LeBlance unknowingly transferred $140,000 into an account set up by the hacker.

This is a big, $3 billion problem, according to FBI Special Agent Michael Kelly. Victims range from deep-pocketed corporations to couples just getting started.

"People need to know this scheme exists because if you don't know, you're going to fall for it," Kelly said.

Kelly describes just how hard the scam is to detect. Scammers get your email address, hack into your email, see what you are up to, create a fake email address from someone you trust – and set the hook.

Often the fake simply switches around two letters to appear like the real one.

The FBI recommends doing things the old-fashioned way by picking up the phone or having a face-to-face conversation before signing off on any wire transfer.

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