Kevin and Nicole Noar have a tough time sleeping at night after losing their life savings while trying to buy their dream home in Carlsbad.
"You go to bed and you're in slight relief because you may get an hour or two of sleep, you stop thinking about it," said Kevin Noar, who works as a chef. "As soon as you wake up, it's all you think about."
It was Feb.14 when the couple received what they know now was a fake email from their fake real estate agent. They didn't pay attention to the sender's e-mail address and didn't notice it said ".corn" instead of ".com."
"It's not bouncing back," Kevin Noar said. "Because they created these fake emails."
Prior to the fake email, they received a real one from a person at their escrow company who sent their escrow information unsecured. The couple said the hackers used that information to send them instructions on how to wire the money.
The Noars said they checked and double checked the account numbers, and both documents matched.
"They just cut and pasted the same header, same art, same escrow title, all they had to do is take that, cut and paste it to us, and we could not determine it was fake," Kevin Noar said.
The Noars said the bank then had chances at three levels to catch the problem; a teller, a manager and the money wiring department. No one saw a problem, the Noars said, not even with the words DBA (doing business as) BittCross.
"We found out later the money was going through a bitcoin account. It said BitCross on the paper," said Nicole Noar, a nurse at UCSD. "Now that we've done our research, we know that's cyber currency which is a very, very high red flag for scams and fraud."
Nicole Noar said to her it doesn't matter who was hacked.
"[The escrow company] didn't follow protocol to protect our information, and the bank didn't follow protocol to protect our money," Nicole Noar said.
The Noars now live with Kevin's parents with their 1-year-old son who helps keep everything in perspective.
"It reminds you of what's important. If we have to live with his parents and start over, we'll do that.," Nicole Noar said.
Kevin's parents have taken a lien out on their own home to help prevent the Carlsbad home from falling out of escrow. The couple also has a GoFundMe page set up and said people in their community, even strangers, have been compassionate and giving.