A Tulsa man said hackers stole his down payment for a new home by sending a phony email.
Because the crime is nearly impossible to track down, the family is out $54,000 with no way to get it back.
Warren Cook bought property near 52nd Street and Peoria as a rental home to make some extra money for his family. But what should have been an exciting purchase ended up devastating him.
“I’d wake up in the middle of the night. I’d just be literally in a cold sweat because that money was gone,” he said.
Cook said he got an email from his realtor giving him instructions on where to wire his down payment of nearly $54,000.
Turns out, the email looked real but was actually created by a hacker, and the money went to the criminal instead of the title company.
“Literally, I could not sleep for weeks afterwards – and that is not an exaggeration because that was my whole nest egg, you know? And now, just like that, everything is gone in the click of a mouse button,” said Cook.
He realized the fraud when his realtor followed up the next day with the real instructions.
Cook’s bank tried to stop the transaction but it was too late.
McGraw Realtors, the company that sold the home to Cook, said it feels terrible about the situation but, ultimately, it’s not liable.
An email from its attorney states, “McGraw Realtors had internet security in place that met and exceeded industry standards. Accordingly, it has no legal liability to you.”
That leaves Cook missing $54,000, and a lesson learned.
“It’s very scary. It’s devastating to the people it happens to,” she said.
Experts say never trust your email when it comes to wiring instructions; always follow up with a phone call.