Real Estate and Technology

CertifID hits big milestone in first year

Real estate security platform has protected over $1.2B from wire fraud.

January 18, 2019
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CertifID, a real-time identity platform for real estate security, has hit an important milestone since being on the market for about a year.

From late 2017 to December 2018, the CertifID system has protected over $1.2 billion from wire fraud. Thomas Cronkright, CEO and co-founder, said CertifID has verified thousands of identities before the funds were transferred.

In the same period, the system also stopped $40 million in high-risk wire transfers, and over 40 communications devices from foreign nations were identified. Many of these devices were attempting to circulate wiring instructions fraudulently.

“CertifID is an effective safeguard against wire fraud. Although the threat continues for any business using wire to transfer funds, these statistics show that there is a way to protect against it,” Cronkright said. “Education, awareness and technology are the best lines of defense against the ever-growing threat of fraud.”

Cronkright and Lawrence Duthler conceived CertifID in 2017 after they learned about complex wire fraud the hard way. An earlier Business Journal report detailed Cronkright and Duthler’s company, Sun Title Agency, was hit in 2015, costing it nearly $200,000.

Following the attack, Duthler and Cronkright spent two years recovering about $145,000 of what was stolen. The recovery process gave them insight into the elaborate, two-month scheme that had compromised their security.

Two years later, the owners of Sun Title became proactive in combating advanced wire fraud. The CertifID platform enables business users to confirm identity and bank account information through a three-step process.

The first step is digital verification. CertifID creates a digital fingerprint based on “billions” of records to ensure a given smartphone, tablet or laptop is being used by its rightful owner.

Secondly, the system provides a list of knowledge-based questions to verify the user’s identity. Lastly, the system shows users the wiring instructions they specified, and they have the opportunity to confirm them. The entire process takes about 60 seconds.

CertifID guarantees transactions of up to $1 million.

Cronkright also said since entering the market in late 2017, adoption of the technology is increasing. CertifID will announce several integrations and partnerships further into 2019.

“We can confirm that ResWare, one of the industry’s most used title production platforms, is now integrated with CertifID,” he said. “We are also excited that AmTrust, a national title insurance underwriter, has made a tangible commitment to prevent fraud by paying for the use of CertifID for its agents across the country.”

Even the most advanced technological safeguards will not stop fraudsters from attacking the human element, however. Duthler previously told the Business Journal companies still must train their realtors to have a “high level of skepticism.” 

Because of the large amounts of money transferred by wire, real estate transactions are an attractive target for hackers. Duthler told the Business Journal that Sun Title moved almost $3 billion in real estate transactions in 2017, and he estimated successful wire fraudsters could walk away with an average of $160,000 from each transaction.

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