In an effort to stem burgeoning and ever-more complex mortgage wire fraud schemes, title industry experts have unveiled CertifID, a unique wire fraud prevention platform designed to safely authenticate the identities of transactional parties and share banking information securely. CertifID uses proprietary digital device analysis and knowledge-based authentication sequencing and provides a guarantee up to $500,000—an industry first.
According to the owners, Thomas Cronkright II and Lawrence Duthler, CertifID was born out of a need to prevent another fraud from happening to them. The founders experienced a wire fraud that affected Sun Title, their Michigan-based title agency, in Spring, 2015, costing them $180,000.
In dealing with their own incident, the owners learned that wire fraud has hit epidemic levels, growing from three percent of payment fraud attempts in 2010, to a staggering 48 percent today. Last year alone, wire fraud in real estate transactions grew 480 percent. In response to the epidemic, Cronkright and Duthler assembled a team of title and technology experts to develop a new wire fraud prevention platform. The result, CertifID, is designed to confirm the true identities of people and expose fraud so that all parties to the transaction are protected. CertifID’s proprietary technology verifies the identity of an individual (such as a participating escrow officer, buyer, or seller) as well as bank account credentials, enabling those involved in a real estate transaction to transfer funds securely. In addition to its easy-to-use enterprise platform, CertifID’s system is backed by an unprecedented $500,000 guarantee.
“Our experience with fraud was one of the most terrifying in our professional careers,” says Lawrence Duthler, Co-Founder and President of CertifID. “It took us two years and countless hours, but we were able to recover a majority of the funds we lost. During that time, we were exposed to the depth and sophistication of the global cyber fraud network. It is shocking.”
“Fraud hit what we call an ‘inflection point’ last Fall, as fraudsters began to insert themselves in real estate transactions with incredible precision and timing,” says Tom Cronkright II, Co-Founder and CEO of CertifID. “We saw a fraud attempt in West Michigan that was so sophisticated that we realized we needed the ability to verify a party’s identity and bank account information at critical points in the transaction in order to prevent another fraud incident.”
“We developed the platform to allow parties in a real estate transaction to confirm the identity of one another and securely exchange and verify bank account information before funds are transferred,” said Duthler. “With the median price of homes in the US crossing the $250,000 mark this year, real estate transactions are a huge target for cyber criminals. Maintaining the trust of all parties is critical.”
CertifID’s patent-pending technology harnesses billions of digital records and Internet metadata to confirm the identity of an individual and the device he or she is using in the course of the transaction. Once the identity has been established, bank account information is shared, credentialed, and confirmed by the person who will be receiving funds from a real estate transaction. The entire certification process takes less than two minutes.
The founders of CertifID took it one step further by providing a guarantee of each successful use of CertifID.
“We want users to rely on the system so we are backing it with a guarantee up to $500,000 per approved use,” says Cronkright. “There is nothing like this in the marketplace—we’re thrilled to be able to offer something so robust at a time when it’s desperately needed.”
“CertifID represents a significant breakthrough in changing the course of fraud in real estate transactions,” says Joseph Murin, former President of Ginnie Mae and current CEO of Commonwealth USA Settlements and JJAM Financial Services. “Protecting ourselves and our customers against cybercrime is best done with a layered strategy. CertifID represents a significant new layer of protection.”