GREENSBORO, N.C. — Tomi Bryan and her husband were ready to downsize.
After selling their home of more than 20 years, they finally found what they were looking for: a new home on Lake Jeanette in Greensboro.
They were living in an apartment in the meantime while they got everything ready before everything went wrong.
"I don`t want anybody to ever have to experience what we did," Bryan said.
They were paying off the mortgage on their old house when she got a text from her husband.
"'You go from this really, "Oh my gosh, we sold our house. We found a dream home" to "What do you mean our mortgage isn't paid off?"
By the time she got to her husband's office, he had confirmed the worst. A hacker had gotten into their lawyer's server.
When the wiring instructions came in, the cyber fraudster intercepted them, changed them and then re-sent them from a similar email address: $370,000 gone.
"You're sitting there trying to figure it out, and it's just one big legal landmine," Byran said.
The next six months was spent hiring attorneys. They had to sue the buyers of their old house because they were going to demolish it, and it was the asset for the Bryan's mortgage which they still had to pay.
"The FBI got involved in our case because it`s a huge criminal enterprise around the globe," Bryan said.
Lucky for them, their attorney had cyber fraud insurance. They filed claims, and it finally paid out.
It paid $250,000 of the $350,000 they lost. Their bank was able to get $70,000 back, and the attorney paid the difference to make them whole.
"The stories that we've heard in the year since this happened are pretty scary stories about people never getting their money back," she said.
This type of wire fraud, she says, is very close to, if not the number one problem for the North Carolina State Bar regarding attorneys.
In the last two to four years, it's become a big problem in the real estate field.