Utah County couple sends $91,000 to fraudster who posed as real estate agent
(KUTV) – A Utah County couple is hoping the FBI can help them recover $91,000 they lost when sending a wire transfer they thought was part of the purchase of a new home, but turned out to be a fraud.
Acell and Anne Bown sent the transfer last week after receiving an e-mail that appeared to be from their real estate agent, Carrie Butterfield. The e-mail was almost an exact match but the address differed by one letter.
The Bowns were supposed to close on a new home in Mona on Dec. 22.
“The message from our agent said ‘I will be in a workshop all day, so don’t try to call me,” Anne Bown said. “We were so eager to get everything done in a hurry so we could move.”
The Bowns went to their credit union and followed the instructions they received in the fraudulent e-mail.
The transaction went unnoticed for a few days until the real title company asked Butterfield why she had told the Bowns the incorrect amount on the wire transfer.
“My response was ‘I never told the Bowns to send a wire,” Butterfield said.
Once the fraudulent wire transfer was discovered, the Bowns contacted the credit union and Payson Police who discovered the e-mail address was different by one letter.
“You can probably imagine, the bottom drops out of your stomach,” Anne Bown said.
The Bowns provided statements and copies of everything to the FBI and Payson Police.
“There are really people out there who don’t care if they ruin somebody’s life,” Anne Bown said.
The Bowns friends and family established a GoFundMe to help them recover some of the lost money.
The couple is still working to purchase the home in Mona next month.
“We don’t want it to happen to anybody else, if we can help in a way, so we’re willing to swallow our pride,” Acell Bown said.