DC Homebuyers Lose $1.5M in Title Scam

A Washington, D.C., couple was scammed out of $1.5 million as they bought their dream house in which they’ll raise a family.

The couple, both federal workers, decided to use an inheritance to buy a house in Cleveland Park.

They put down $200,000 and were waiting to go to closing when they got an email that seemed to be from their title company. They replied to the email to double check and got a reply, so they wired the remaining $1.5 million to the bank.

But when they went to sign the settlement papers, they learned they’d been scammed.

“When you have a young child and you move into your house for the first time and you close on that house, that should be a really special moment, not a moment when a massive amount of money is stolen from you, so the whole experience has been marred,” said the couple’s attorney, Michael Nadel.

It appears someone hacked into the computer servers of Federal Title and Escrow and sent the bogus emails. The FBI is investigating.

The couple was able to buy the home with what was left of their inheritance. They are suing the title company and others in hopes of recovering their money.

In a written statement, a spokesperson told News4, “Federal Title continues to work with the FBI as they complete their investigation. Federal Title’s internal review has revealed that no other customers were affected by this attack.”

A mortgage expert told News4 such scams are increasingly common. He said you should never wire money based on an email, even from a trusted source. You should call the company first, and don’t use the phone number on the email -- look it up yourself.

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