Evolve Cyber Advisory
Cyber criminals are posing as California Department of Real Estate investigators, demanding payments from agents and brokers.
SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Real Estate (DRE) has alerted its licensees about a vishing (voice phishing) scam targeting real estate agents and brokers.
Scammers are calling licensees and posing as DRE investigators. They then notify the licensee that they are under investigation and subject to a citation or other disciplinary action, unless they pay the DRE to clear their name and license. They will demand that you wire funds. It is worth noting that the DRE accepts online payments for all licensing activities via their eLicensing system; any request for a wire transfer is fraud. In some cases, the criminals are identifying themselves as law enforcement and making similar demands.
To avoid becoming a victim of this scam, the DRE has advised that:
- DRE staff will never contact you and demand money or payment without a formal administrative action being filed against you. If your license is subject to discipline, the DRE will send you a formal document – such as an accusation or citation – via certified mail to the address you have on-record with the DRE;
- California’s DRE will never ask or require you to wire money;
- If you do have a fine or penalty payment to make to the DRE, the payee must be the Department of Real Estate. You will never make a DRE payment to an individual;
- If you receive an e-mail or telephone call from a person claiming to be a DRE staff member and you are unsure, do not provide them with any personal information. Contact the DRE call center at 1-877-373-4542 and follow the prompts to speak to an investigator. DRE will be able to confirm whether or not the person contacting you is indeed a DRE employee;
If the phone number of the caller appears to be a DRE number, you should report the scam to the Federal Communications Commission; https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov/hc/en-us/articles/115002234203-Unwanted-Calls-Phone
If you are able to confirm that the person calling you is a scammer, contact your local law enforcement agency to report the crime.
Related: Read the CA DRE’s Official Warning
Are vishing attacks covered by Evolve’s cyber insurance?
Yes. Evolve does intend to cover Funds Transfer Fraud resulting from voice phishing attacks. From our Evo 4.0 policy wording:
We agree to reimburse you for loss first discovered by you during the period of the policy as a direct result of any third party committing:
a. any unauthorized electronic transfer of funds from your bank;
b. theft of money or other financial assets from your bank by electronic means;
c. theft of money or other financial assets from your corporate credit cards by electronic means; or
d. any phishing, vishing or other social engineering attack against any employee or senior executive officer that results in the transfer of your funds to an unintended third party.