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Perry Twp. homebuyers scammed out of $20,000 say new Ohio law made them vulnerable to wire fraud

New law requires transactions over $1,000 to wired
Posted: 12:09 AM, May 16, 2017
Updated: 2017-05-16 10:38:37Z

A change in Ohio's Good Funds law has some consumers concerned it could leave homebuyers more susceptible to wire fraud.

The revised law, which went into effect in April 6, now requires Ohio title companies to only accept closing funds of more than $1,000 through wire transfers.

The Akron Cleveland Association of Realtors told News 5 the Good Funds law was changed to protect consumers against bad checks in real estate transactions.

But homebuyers like Walli Feiler believe the amended law actually puts consumers in harms way more often.

Feiler and her husband report they are the victims of wire fraud, and lost more than $20,000 in closing money while trying to buy a Perry Township home last week.

Feiler said she thought she received closing instructions from her DeHoff Realty real estate agent in an email on where to wire her closing funds.

But the email actually came from a hacker posing as her agent, and instructed her to send more than $20,000 to Citizen's Bank in New York.

Feiler said First Commonwealth Bank followed the instructions and wired the money, but never detected the money was going to the wrong place.

A day later Feiler said Cornerstone Real Estate Title called her looking for her closing money, and that's when it was discovered the funds were sent to the wrong account.

Feiler said both banks and the title company have been little help in tracking down the missing money, or in trying to determine how a hacker was able to pose as her real estate agent.

The case has now been turned over to the Perry Township Police.

Feiler believes the revised Ohio law needs to be changed to better protect homebuyers.

DeHoff Realty agreed changes need to be made and said it would contact state lawmakers in the search for answers.

The company also agreed to issue strong written warnings in its real estate agreements, making it clear closing instructions will come in a phone call from the title company and not in an email or a from a real estate agent.