Home Buyers Beware – Hackers Targeting Real Estate Transactions with Wire Fraud Scheme

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Network Realty Recommends Vigilant Awareness to Protect from Becoming a Victim

Protect Against Wire Fraud

It is more important than ever to be vigilant about your personal financial information. Con artists are out to get your money and they are also out to destroy the American Dream.

Wire fraud is a growing issue for consumers and financial institutions involved in real estate transactions. Cyber-criminals have turned to wire fraud as a way to steal money from a home buyer during a real estate closing. Here is a typical scenario:

The homebuyer receives an email, which appears to be from the real estate company or the title company, regarding funds to be wired to an account for settlement. The email is actually from a sophisticated hacker posing as a representative from the real estate or title company. The hacker has broken into an email account to obtain information and has been monitoring the account to determine the time of a real estate closing.

The fraudulent email may look legitimate but it’s a scam. The email often will contain changes or new wiring instructions or routing information, and it will request that the buyer send transaction-related funds accordingly.

“We are advising everyone to beware of cyber-fraud,” said James Lamphere, Vice President, Title & Escrow, HomeServices of America. “Before wiring any funds, call the intended recipient at a number you know is valid to confirm the instructions. Any request to change wire instructions at or right before closing should be suspect.”

Lamphere, a member of the American Land Title Association (ALTA) who serves on several leadership committees, recently shared the association’s strategy and consumer alert awareness campaign. ALTA is working with lending and real estate industry groups to increase awareness about wire fraud, identify and promote industry best practices to deter wire fraud and advocate for steps the government can take to protect people from hackers.

“The sad truth is preventing these devastating crimes is extremely difficult,” said Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Network Realty Founder, President and CEO Linda Sherrer. “That is why awareness is the first and best approach.”

Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Florida Network Realty and its partners, including Gibraltar Title Services, LLC, are alerting homebuyers at the outset of the transaction to never open unsolicited links or attachments. Gibraltar Title Services General Manager Alan Copertino and Associate Counsel Dennis Luettich recommend buyers avoid sending any sensitive financial information by email and to use an independently verified phone number to confirm wiring instructions for their money deposit or down payment.

“Wire fraud is a growing problem in real estate and it is incumbent upon us to make sure our clients’ information is secure,” said Broker/Executive Vice President Christy Budnick. “We want to do everything we can to reduce the risk of our customers becoming victims.”

According to the FBI, the number of wire fraud scams reported by title companies to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) increased 480 percent in 2016. The FBI said that wire fraud scams have been reported in all 50 states and in 131 countries. Victim complaints filed with the IC3 and financial sources indicate fraudulent transfers have been sent to 103 countries. Criminals sought to steal roughly $5.3 billion through this fraud.

Some buyers who have fallen for this real estate closing wire fraud scheme have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars to a thief. The Washington Post has reported losses ranging from $30,000 to $130,000.

If you wire money into a wrong account, the bank will not reimburse you. There is usually no recourse to get your money back. Those funds may be lost forever to a cyber-criminal who may or may not live in the United States.

For safety and protection, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Network Realty recommends consumers adhere to the following precautions:

  • Never send any sensitive financial information via email, including banking information, routing numbers or PINs.
  • Prior to wiring any funds, contact the intended recipient via a verified phone number and confirm that the wiring information is accurate.
  • Do not rely on telephone numbers or website addresses provided within an unverified email.

“Closing on a new home should be a celebration,” Budnick added. “Our goal is to make sure it doesn’t turn into a nightmare.”

For more information about buying or selling a home, contact Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Network Realty at (904) 296-1906 or visit http://ift.tt/1fEO8HN.

Safety Tips for Buyers and Sellers

Protect Yourself from Becoming a Wire Fraud Victim 

  • Call, don’t email: Confirm all wiring instructions by phone before transferring funds. Use the phone number from the title company’s website or a business card.
  • Be suspicious: It’s not common for title companies to change wiring instructions and payment info.
  • Confirm it all: Ask your bank to confirm not just the account number but also the name on the account before sending a wire.
  • Verify immediately: You should call the title company or real estate agent to validate that the funds were received. Detecting that you sent the money to the wrong account within 24 hours gives you the best chance of recovering your money.
  • Forward, don’t reply: When responding to an email, hit forward instead of reply and then start typing in the person’s email address. Criminals use email address that are very similar to the real one for a company. By typing in email addresses you will make it easier to discover if a fraudster is after you.

Source: American Land Title Association (ALTA)

Written by Clockwork Marketing



7 Food Trucks Everyone in Jacksonville Has to Try

food trucks in jacksonville

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The food truck scene in Jacksonville is booming, with popular spots that are showcasing numerous eclectic eats from all over the world. Whether you’re in the mood for tacos, pizza, or anything else in between, there’s a food truck in Jax that’s waiting for you to track them down. Here are seven food trucks that everyone in Jacksonville has to try.

7. Fusion

Fusion is a fitting name for a food truck that features Indian, Thai, and Mediterranean cuisine. Their ‘Drunken Noodles’ dish, comprised of rice noodles that are sautéed with a sweet and spicy sauce, garlic Thai chili, onion, bell peppers, bean sprouts, and basil. Their beef and lamb gyros are also popular menu items. You’ll be satisfied regardless of what you order.

6. Eddis & Sons

It’s about to go down #foodbeast #yasss #hungry #eddisandsons

A post shared by RozayJ82💕💖👯💁😑😂😘 (@rozayj82) on Nov 17, 2016 at 6:42pm PST

Eddis and Sons specializes in legendary steak sandwiches and hoagies. Whether or not you’re from Philly, you’ll appreciate the food this truck is serving up. Go for the ‘Classic Cheesesteak’ made with hand cut steak. Or try something different, like ‘The Jawn’, a veggie sandwich featuring wheat protein, mushrooms, and roasted peppers.

5. Mr. Taco

thank u so much for everything u do. really love & admire ur work bro 💯hit my line let’s link

A post shared by Liz ☯ (@lizziebowlson) on Jul 8, 2017 at 10:11pm PDT

If you’re looking for authentic Mexican food on the go, look no further than Mr. Taco. This food truck has you covered if you’re craving tacos, burritos, quesadillas, ensaladas, tostadas, nachos, or fajitas. The options are endless, so we won’t judge you for ordering a few items off of their menu.

4. Pie95

Pie95 is the pizza lover’s dream food truck. ‘The Bianca’ has toppings like mozzarella cheese, garlic, oregano, and lemon zest. ‘The Salad’ does something a little different with mixed greens, onions, cherry tomatoes, parmesan, and balsamic. All made on drool-worthy thin and crispy crust. You can even build your own pie!

3. JoyShtick

Coolest food truck ever…YOU CAN PLAY MARIO, GUYS!!!

A post shared by 😽Kat🌻 (@kitkatandkaboodle) on Apr 6, 2017 at 8:58am PDT

JoyShtick is a video-game themed food truck, offering up good food at great prices. The menu is extensive and fun, with dishes like fried buffalo cauliflower, chicken tenders breaded with cool ranch Doritos, and a ground chuck and bacon patty on a roll with pepper jelly and arugula.

2. The Happy Grilled Cheese

The Happy Grilled Cheese is a crowd favorite in Jacksonville. Your go-to comfort food comes in many different varietals at this food truck. The ‘Apple Swiss Melt’ is comprised of Swiss cheese, apples, and grilled onions. While the ‘Crunch Melt’ boasts American and cheddar cheeses, mac and cheese, bacon, and potato chips!

1. What’s The Catch?

We’d like to wish a very Happy Mothers Day to this hot momma right here @raleyyy is the mom we all need 😆 enjoy your day. We love you 💜

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If you love seafood, you’ll love the What’s The Catch? food truck. Located in Jacksonville Beach, their delicious tacos feature grilled grouper, fried shrimp, Ahi tuna, or catfish. Speaking of catfish, this joint is known for their Southern fried catfish. It’s a must-try!


6 Reasons People Love Retiring in Northeast Florida

retire in jacksonville

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Northeast Florida was founded on a misguided quest to find the Fountain of Youth. Even though Juan Ponce de León never found exactly what he was looking for – he did discover one of the most beautiful areas in the country, an area that many retirees flock to in order to relax and rediscover their youth. Here are six of the many reasons why people love retiring in Northeast Florida, aside from the beautiful weather and the abundance of sunshine.

6. Northeast Florida is a Vacation Destination

Thankfully there are many airports in the area, both domestic and international, so that your friends and family can visit at any time. There are so many things to do in Florida, which makes it a popular travel spot – especially if there is family to stay with. During the cold and snowy months back in other parts of the country, expect lots of visitors.

5. An Active Adult Community

If you’re looking to settle down in an Active Adult Community, Northeast Florida has a range of options for every taste and every budget. After managing your own home for so many years, it’s relaxing to live in a social community that is managed by others, and has all the amenities and services you would need to live a comfortable and happy life.

4. The Healthcare Options in Northeast Florida are Vast

Thanks to many other retirees moving to the area, most health services are geared towards that age group. Having top-notch health care providers available all over Northeast Florida, there’s a sense of safety and reassurance that you don’t get everywhere in the country.

3. No Income Tax

In all of Florida, there is no estate tax, no state income tax, and no inheritance tax. This is important, especially if you’re on a fixed income. You want to live someplace where your money is worth more, and luckily Florida has a very low cost of living. It pays to be able to save for more important things, like traveling and visiting family.

2. Recreational Activities

The tremendous amount of recreational activities in the Northeastern part of Florida attracts people of all ages. Retirees will have more time to play golf, learn a new water sport, take up fishing, spend the day boating, or starting to go on early morning runs or after dinner walks. The key to staying happy and healthy as you age is to stay active, and you’re in the right place to do so.

1. So Much to Do

Florida has such a diverse culture and many differing landscapes, that you can learn so many new things about the world without even having to leave the state. There is just so much to see and to do here. It’s a great place to vacation to, but it’s also a great place to live because every day feels like a vacation.


6 Barbecue Spots Everyone in Jacksonville Should Eat at

best bbq in jacksonville

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BBQ is a difficult thing to excel at. Luckily for the inhabitants of Jacksonville there are many places that know what they’re doing when it comes to smoked meat. The options can be overwhelming, so we’ve narrowed it down for you to make tonight’s dinner options easy. Make sure you have your wet wipes and napkins ready because here are six of the best barbeque spots in Jacksonville.

6. Bow Leg’z Bar-B-Que

Bow knows: Brisket!!! #brisket #904Eats #eatjax #flbbq #realbbq #jacksonville #Duval #voidgrub

A post shared by Bow Leg’z Bar-B-Que (@bowlegzbbq) on Nov 25, 2015 at 12:24pm PST

The wood-smoked meat at Bow Leg’s Bar-B-Que is everything you’ve been looking for; with BBQ plates, spare ribs, chicken wings, sandwiches and even meaty salads. Their premium sides include macaroni and cheese, collard greens, and green beans. Aside from the delicious and affordable food, the staff is extremely warm and welcoming.

5. Woodpecker’s Backyard BBQ

Whether you’re looking to dine in or take out, Woodpecker’s Backyard BBQ has your meat needs covered. You’re bound to have leftovers to bring home with you. Located in a quiet area near the river, the meat at this little hole in the wall is tender with just the right amount of fat. Think turkey, sausage, pork, brisket, chicken, and ribs.

4. MOJO Kitchen, BBQ Pit Blues Bar

It’s a music venue, and a bar but the food is what makes MOJO Kitchen so special. Dishes include smoked salmon, fried green tomatoes, burnt ends, and pulled-pork quesadillas. They’re serving up smoked meats and showcasing blues musicians, what else could you ask for?

3. Gilbert’s Social

The food at Gilbert’s Social is your typical Southern fare, yet made modern and exciting. There are your classic dishes like smoked pulled lamb shanks and jerk chicken drums, and new favorites like fried wild shrimp and grilled Andouille sausage. You can’t go wrong ordering anything off of their menu.

2. The Bearded Pig

Southern BBQ joint and beer garden The Bearded Pig is doing something right. This hot spot takes their meat seriously – you’ll find everything you’re looking for on their extensive menu. Don’t skip out on their popular sauces; OG, Sweet Spot, Drizz Mustard, and XXX. And their draft list is every beer drinker’s dream.

1. 4 Rivers Smokehouse

4 Rivers Smokehouse does barbecue the old school way. Their tri-tip is served with a smokehouse chimichurri sauce and their smoked jalapeños are mouth-watering and very addicting. You can also pick up their all purpose rub and brisket rub for when you’re trying your best to recreate this deliciousness at home.



Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Network Realty is pleased to welcome Sandy Andrews to the Fleming Island/Orange Park office.

Fleming Island Orange Park Real Estate Agent

Sandy joins Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Network Realty with three and a half years of experience as a Realtor, previously working at a residential real estate firm. In addition to her experience as a Realtor, Sandy has also worked as a graphic designer for twenty years – combining her degrees in graphic design and photography.

Living in Northeast Florida for nearly a decade, Sandy is eager to share her love of her community with her clients, to help them find not only a house but their home. With her expertise in graphic design, Sandy will be able to make sure that all her listings will be marketed effectively, and beautifully, to make sure that they will be sold for their true value and at their full potential.

Prior to moving to Florida, Sandy lived in Dresden, Germany for three years with her husband. During that time, they were able to extensively travel throughout Europe and the U.K., exploring the culture and food of multiple countries.

“Sandy’s background in graphic design and her knowledge of the local real estate market will give her career with us a huge boost from the beginning. I am pleased to have Sandy join our Fleming Island Team and am confident in her success,” shares Linda Benson, Broker/Manager of the Fleming Island/Orange Park office.

For more information, Sandy can be reached by phone at 904.553.5466 or at Sandy.Andrews@FloridaNetworkRealty.com and website: SAndrews.FloridaNetworkRealty.com. The Fleming Island/Orange Park office is located at 3535 Highway 17, Suite 10, Fleming Island, FL 32003.



Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Network Realty is pleased to welcome Vandana Sharma to the Ponte Vedra/Nocatee office.

Ponte Vedra Nocatee Real Estate Agent

Vandana began her professional career in Architectural Design, Project Management, and Delivery seventeen years ago, and has worked as a Senior Architect, Designer, and Realtor in this industry both internationally and locally. Vandana has helped various organizations around the world – including teams in the United States, United Kingdom, Middle East, Africa, and India – to drive strategy and business solutions, and she has also helped enable business relations in top-tier firms through her work.

With Vandana’s background in residential sales, her technical training and fifteen years of architecture background, her clients will not only benefit from her industry expertise, they’ll be able to confidently market their home. “I am eager to apply my knowledge of good design to my real estate career,” Vandana states. “I strive to be a good consultant and advisor to my clients – to help them market and sell their home for its true value, and to help my buyers see the potential that may be hidden in a home.”

“We’re excited to have Vandana join the Ponte Vedra/Nocatee office. Her background in architecture, marketing & interior design will be a great asset to her clients, and I can’t wait to see what she accomplishes,” shares Kevin Waugaman, Broker/Manager of the Ponte Vedra/Nocatee office.

For more information, Vandana can be reached by phone at 904.420.8342 or at Vandana.Sharma@FloridaNetworkRealty.com and website: VSharma.FloridaNetworkRealty.com. The Ponte Vedra/Nocatee office is located at 333 Village Main Street, Suite 670, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida 32082.



Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Network Realty is pleased to welcome Richa Jeetah to the Ponte Vedra/Nocatee office.

Ponte Vedra Nocatee Real Estate Agent

Richa, previously a Real Estate Assistant at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Network Realty, has taken her final step to reach her calling and is now a full-time Realtor in the Ponte Vedra/Nocatee office. As an Assistant, Richa not only managed Realtor’s social media presences, websites, and contact databases, she also collaborated on marketing plans for listings – including the creating and publishing of brochures, flyers, and customer testimonials.

Richa moved from Arizona to Ponte Vedra nearly three years ago with her husband and two children. Born in India, Richa has family spread across four different continents and knows that this has given her a unique perspective and understanding of different cultures and people – a value that was reinforced by her family growing up, and will help her well in her career as a Realtor. Having moved across continents and across the United States, Richa has extensive personal experience buying and selling and knows how important it is to have a Realtor “in your corner,” that can be relied upon throughout a home buying or selling experience.

When asked about why she became a Realtor, Richa stated, “The role that a Realtor plays in one’s life is important, and once you find a good Realtor, I feel you have a bond for life. I feel as though I’ve found my calling, and that is the kind of Realtor I want to be – to be able to connect with people. I have always valued people and relationships and making sure that during the buying or selling process the families that I work with know that I have their backs is of utmost importance. My clients are not alone in their journey.”

“With Richa’s background in working with luxury listings in the Ponte Vedra area and her experience in the fast-paced real estate market of Northeast Florida – her transition from Assistant to Realtor is sure to be a successful step for Richa. I am excited to have her as a full-time realtor in the Ponte Vedra/Nocatee office, and I am sure she will succeed in all her endeavors,” shares Kevin Waugaman, Broker/Manager of the Ponte Vedra/Nocatee office.

For more information, Richa Jeetah can be reached by phone at 480.444.6502 or at Richa.Jeetah@FloridaNetworkRealty.com and website: RJeetah.FloridaNetworkRealty.com. The Ponte Vedra/Nocatee office is located at 333 Village Main Street, Suite 670, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida 32082.