Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News) - Real estate experts say artificial intelligence is raising the risk of wire fraud during what can be a person’s most significant financial transaction of their lifetime.

Rochester Realtor Robin Gwaltney with Gwaltney Group RE/MAX Results says the National Association of Realtors is urging realtors and others involved in the industry to ramp up their education efforts to fight back against the use of AI-generated "deep fakes" by scammers. She describes the level of wire fraud activity now associated with the deep fakes as “scary”.

photo courtesy Robin Gwaltney (YouTube)
photo courtesy Robin Gwaltney (YouTube)

Robin discussed the issue during her weekly radio program and podcast on News-Talk 1340 KROC-AM and 96.9 FM. She explained that scammers have long worked to trick consumers into handing over sensitive information used to process real estate transactions, but they are now deploying artificial intelligence to appropriate the voices of real estate agents, support staff, mortgage bankers, and others to contact a buyer or seller and convince them to share information that could allow the scammer to redirect funds.


Gwaltney says the deep fakes, combined with technology that can mimic phone numbers and create counterfeit documents and emails, have provided the scammers with effective tools for stealing very large sums of money associated with purchasing or selling a home.

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The National Association of Realtors has provided realtors with steps they can take to protect against deep fakes. This list appeared in the organization's Realtor Magazine:

  • Stay informed. Know the latest developments in deepfake technology, and be aware of the potential ways cybercriminals could use it to harm the real estate industry. It’s imperative for brokers to provide regular cybersecurity training. Technology changes quickly.
  • Verify information. Be cautious with any information or media related to real estate. Regardless of the source—whether it’s a lender, colleague or client—take steps to verify the authenticity of the information before acting on it. Reach out directly to the source to confirm, and make sure to communicate via an email address or phone number you know to be authentic.
  • Use secure communication channels. Use domain-based and encrypted email and messaging apps rather than free email accounts when communicating with clients or colleagues about sensitive information related to real estate.
  • Use watermarks on real estate documents. To guarantee the authenticity and integrity of real estate documents and materials, employ watermarks and other authentication techniques to detect any unauthorized modifications.
  • Educate others. Teach your fellow real estate pros and consumers about the dangers of deep fakes and the importance of being vigilant.

READ MORE: Deep fake scammers aim to con home buyers and sellers

Gwaltney says the Gwaltney Group is taking extra steps to educate its clients and to verify all communications. Still, she notes that a recent survey found 60% of the participating consumers had received little or no education about the wire fraud threat from their agent or other professionals involved in their real estate transaction. She says the survey involved 650 people who had recently purchased or sold a home.

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