Buying a home is the part of the American dream. Finding the perfect house with the proverbial white picket fence. A place to raise a family and grow old together. For most, it's the most significant purchase we'll ever make, and we squirrel away thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars for that down payment.
The days leading up to closing are a mixed bag of excitement and anxiety. But you've done your due diligence on the property and feel comfortable with your decision. So, what could go wrong?
For this Colorado couple, everything...
As if the hurdles you go through just to buy a house weren't enough, these days you must stay on the lookout for modern-day thieves, lurking in the shadows ready to steal your life savings.
James and Candace Butcher found their dream house last year. A place to be closer to their son, and watch their grandchildren grow. They had a sizeable chunk of change -- roughly $272,000 -- to use as a down payment on their new home.
Just one more day and the house was theirs. They could begin making it their own. But over the next 24 hours their dreams turned into a nightmare. Not only did they not get the home, but their entire life savings was gone.
You see, cybercriminals hacked into the title company's servers and obtained financial information relating to the house purchase. They then sent a bogus email to the homebuyers impersonating a title company employee. The email was a "final" closing disclosure, telling the couple to wire funds in the amount of $272,535.96 to close on the property.
The money disappeared, buying the house was no longer a possibility, and they had to live in their son's basement as they tried to figure out what to do next. The money was never recovered.
The Butcher's aren't the first, nor will they be the last, victims of this type of fraud. According to the FBI, in fiscal 2017, nearly $1 billion was diverted from real estate purchase transactions and wired to criminally-controlled accounts. This was up substantially from the $19 million in wire transfer frauds affecting homebuyers in 2016.
Wire fraud is just one piece of the booming cyber criminal industry. Cyber theft is the fastest-growing crime in the United States . According to a report by Cybersecurity Ventures, global cybercrime costs could hit $6 trillion annually by 2021, up from $3 trillion in 2015. It's hardly news anymore when we hear of this company or that company whose systems have been hacked, resulting in stolen personal information. Just look at a few of the names on this list of victims:
-- The CIA
-- The National Security Administration ( NSA )
-- The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
-- JP Morgan Chase
Then there's the problem of so-called ransomware, a type of malicious software that blocks access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid. In 2017, the ransomware cryptoworm known as WannaCry spread like wildfire across the internet. This malware seized websites, and to get their website or personal files back, victims had to pay a ransom.
According to Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO ), WannaCry has already received more than 300 ransom payments after attacks on hospitals, banks and other companies across the globe, and the infections are still propagating. Late last year, the Trump administration publicly blamed North Korea for the WannaCry cyber attacks.
How You Can Invest In This Powerful Trend
There's no denying that cybercrime will continue to be a growing industry... and companies that are in the business of protecting the internet and our data will continue to grow.
I first talked about this problem in a September 2017 issue of Top Stock Advisor . I told readers that they could gain exposure to this space through exchange-traded fund Prime Cyber Security ETF (NYSE: HACK ). Since then, the ETF has risen 25%, more than double the S&P 500's 9.8% return over the same period.
But if you didn't act then, you haven't missed the boat. This is an emerging sector with new cyber-crime fighters coming online nearly every day. My Top Stock Advisor readers and I already have some exposure to this space through our "backbone of the internet" holding. But I recently found a smaller, more direct play... a company that's built its platform in partnership with some of the biggest software and internet vendors around the world.
Unfortunately, I can't share its name out of fairness to my premium subscribers. But if you'd like to get the name and ticker symbol of this pick, along with my latest research report on the 7 Legacy Assets you need to own forever, simply go here .