April Fool's Day Ain't What It Used To Be

Amanda Lynch Elliott

by Amanda Lynch Elliott

Amanda Lynch Elliott is a native of Pensacola and an attorney with My Pink Lawyer®. Amanda and her husband are parents of two young daughters. Amanda enjoys running, yoga and paddle boarding, and has a twin sister.

Have you ever experienced something so mind-blowingly unexpected that it left you in a residual state of disbelief for some time afterwards?


Losing a quarter of a million dollars overnight is at the tippy top of my “Never Want to Do That Again” list.


April 1st marks the three-year anniversary of our wire fraud experience.


Three years ago, my husband and I were the victims of real estate wire fraud.


We (along with our then 2-month-old daughter) excitedly sat at a closing table where we intended to purchase a new home for our growing family.


We learned instead that the wired funds had not been received by the title company.


The receipt I displayed from the transaction was met with frantic looks from the representatives of the title company.


It was a cash sale, and our money was gone.


The joke was most definitely on us.


In the hours, days, months, and even years that followed, the “what ifs” swam through my head.


What could I have done to prevent this? Who did it? Were we the target? Were they coming after other assets? How far reaching would it go?


The unanswered questions swam in circles in my head.


I’ll spare you the details, but nearly two years of litigation ensued.


Our case was prosecuted both criminally and civilly – and the true hero was Detective Taschetta with the Pensacola Police Department. He singlehandedly recovered the largest portion of our stolen funds.


The FBI eventually completely handed our case over to him due to his proficiency. He received an award for his hard work in solving our (very complex) case, and we remain overwhelmed with gratitude to him and the PPD for their dedication to helping us.


The federal treasury held our recovered funds for nearly a year to ensure that it wasn’t commingled with drug money.


The “ring” of scammers that effected our wire fraud was also found responsible for over $11 million dollars’ worth of fraudulently obtained funds.


Their main money-makers were romance scams… can you believe that?


I know this all sounds incredulous – it did to us, too.


Meanwhile, we bought the house again (for real this time), proceeded with a whole-house renovation, and continued with our lives as best we could.


Fast forward to the good part: Two years later, we were eventually made (almost) whole.  


The experience itself was so profoundly unbelievable that, three years later, it still feels like a bad dream.


I was reminded just how prevalent wire fraud has become while watching the news last week.


April 1 must be the “day” for scammers to have some extra fun, too, because the Santa Rosa County Clerk’s Office lost $900,000 on April Fool’s Day of this year when funds to a vendor were diverted to a fraudulent bank account.


The City of Pensacola had a ransomware attack that same week, too.


We felt utterly helpless after our wire fraud experience, and so, moving forward we take precautions to make sure it never happens again.


Here are some of the protective actions we take:


  • We review our credit reports frequently for unauthorized activity.


  • My husband and I both froze our credit lines. You can do this simply through any of the three credit bureaus. Keeping it locked precludes anyone from opening an unauthorized line of credit in your name but also protects you from identity fraud. If you need to unlock it, it’s easy to do.


  • We also signed up for Aura, a subscription-based service that monitors financial fraud and identity theft alerts. We get an email any time any of our information is found on the dark web, and it safely stores our digital information.


  • We prefer to make large cash transactions in-person rather than by wire, but when there is no other option, we verify, verify, and verify again. Speak to multiple people. Don’t be afraid to be a pain.


  • We save emails in their long form (not the auto-generated names that the sender wants you to see). You can disable this function in your email settings.


We hear about this sort of thing happening, and simply think it will never happen to us; that we are somehow savvier than those who fall for scams like this.


But it does happen, and like most life experiences - both good and bad - they teach us something.


We protect our family differently now.


We see the same sort of thing in our clients that come to us after having an unpleasant probate experience or losing a loved one that failed to properly plan.


It becomes very important for them to keep their loved ones from having the same experience that they did.


And so, they plan differently.


Like the saying, “Now that you know better, do better.”


At My Pink Lawyer®, no matter what your objective is, we’ll make your planning seamless. We’ll communicate with you throughout the process, and we guarantee a stellar client experience.


Your family will thank you for even the most basic planning that you do on their behalf.


Amanda “Trust but Verify” Lynch Elliott



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