Dwight closes acquisition of Love Funding

Multifamily property lending is booming right now. Dwight Capital LLC is expanding its private commercial real estate (CRE) lending portfolio. The full-service nationwide mortgage banking firm announced the acquisition of Love Funding, the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) lending subsidiary of Midland States Bank. 

Since Dwight Capital’s financing volume has increased exponentially, it became imperative to take action “and rapidly grow our personnel with a group of the highest caliber, so quality and service, continue to excel as we grow,” said Adam Sasouness, Co-CEO of Dwight Capital. 

Already one of the nation’s largest multifamily and healthcare property lenders, Dwight Capital said the acquisition aims to expand further its HUD financing production.

The rebranded Love Funding Platform will integrate within Dwight Capital, while Midland States Bank will retain the existing Love Funding servicing portfolio. 

The bank initially announced the transaction on August 28, 2020, but did not disclose any financial details.

 “The Love Funding team is and has been well-respected in the FHA/HUD lending industry for decades, which is why we felt they would be a seamless fit within Dwight,” added Sasouness. “This acquisition is a demonstration of Dwight’s commitment to build and maintain a HUD financing team.” 

The company currently provides commercial lending across several platforms, including multifamily HUD and Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans, bridge, mezzanine financing, preferred equity for stabilized and new-construction properties, and services $5 billion of CRE loans. 

“Our growth is also a direct result of our collaboration with the incredible team at HUD,” said Josh Sasouness, Co-CEO of Dwight Capital. “We are grateful to HUD for their ongoing partnership with us, and their willingness to continuously adapt their policies to match housing needs across the country.”

West launches email cybersecurity help desk

The pandemic only enhanced the need for fraud protection initiated by the digitization of mortgages, motivating lenders, fintechs, consumers and real estate professionals to deploy fraud alert tools. WEST, a Williston Financial Group (WFG) fintech company based in Irvine, Cal., has launched a unique residential real estate and mortgage lending cybersecurity help desk.

WFG’s national WESTprotect.com cybersecurity website offers real-time, potential fraud risk alerts, updated data briefs and other assistance. Available as a self-serve option, or on demand, it protects real estate agents, lenders, title agents and other settlement service providers from email fraud, the company said.

Its email-analysis subscription service, WESTprotect 411 screens suspicious emails, “and reports back within one hour.” The portal offers free sign-up for fraud alert warnings, access to an extensive library of in-depth articles and reports, and the 411 advisory blog. 

WESTprotect offers subscribers access to cybersecurity training and phishing simulators customized for a specific user, WFG explained, “something that previously would be prohibitively expensive” for offices with less than 50 employees.

A monthly subscription for WESTprotect 411 currently is less than $10 per user. Add-on services include Lure and Protect U available at less than $2 per month.

WESTprotect is the brainchild of Bruce Phillips, WEST’s senior vice president and chief information security officer, who built it based on the motto “awareness is the best defense.” 

“There are reasons why we’re seeing this increase and why the risks are so much higher in our industry,” Phillips said. “Wire fraud is the biggest threat to mortgage and real estate companies because they can lose the most money in the shortest amount of time,” as the average wire fraud transaction is between $140,000 and $160,000. 

In 2016, WFG Chairman and Founder Patrick F. Stone, requested Phillips to create an in-house cybersecurity system to shield WFG National Title Insurance Company agencies from increasingly more frequent mail fraud attacks and other malicious Internet activity, the company said in a statement. 

Phillips and his team answered more than 80,000 cyber questions, conducted nearly as many phishing simulations, and held more than 170,000 employee-training sessions, which has helped protect WFG from more than $19.6 million in wire fraud.

The September 2020 launch of the WESTprotect website on the other hand, is a new venture designed to bring that same level of market tested cyber fraud protection to “any independent real estate or title agent, lender or escrow officer in any size office anywhere in the United State,” WFG said.

Direct feedback and industry data before and after the pandemic indicate wire fraud attempts are on the rise and six times higher than before the pandemic, Phillips found, more importantly, “the perpetrators’ success rate has doubled.” 

In 2019, fraud losses “to various forms of business email compromise,” amounted to $1.9 billion, he said, this year, as stay-at-home orders went into effect and financial services employees started using vulnerable home Internet connections, email and other fraud increased. 

In May 2020, reports of fraudulent Internet activity on the Federal Bureau of Investigation website quadrupled leading the FBI to warn the numbers may represent only 40% of all fraud attempts, meaning actual daily fraud activity probably was as high as 10,000 incidents.

Wire fraud, ransomware and other malicious email activity are a social threat issue that involves technology, Phillips notes. Criminals need three ingredients that unwittingly get individuals to participate in successful wire fraud, he said, a sudden change, a sense of urgency, and a potential positive or negative consequence.

The pandemic provided the sudden change; a sense of urgency is inherent in every real estate transaction or loan application that may experience 30, 60 or 90-day escrows; while a negative consequence might come in an email appearing to be from a buyer’s escrow company requesting the money must go to a new account, he said. WESTprotect subscribers can forward the email for review and within an hour will be advised what to do.

Ncontracts expands with Banc Intranets

Integrated financial risk management and compliance cloud services provider, Ncontracts has acquired Banc Intranets, an enterprise content management platform that specializes in critical regulatory compliance reporting and management.

The merger acquisition expands the blended company staff and nationwide product offering. Banc Intranets brings to the merger a single point of access regulatory technology for employee onboarding and training across multiple devices presently used by over 1,600 financial institutions across the country.

“Adding the industry-leading capabilities of the BancWorks employee portal, and the DirectorLink board portal, to our integrated suite of risk management solutions,” will improve internal and customer efficiencies, said Michael Berman, CEO of Ncontracts. “We’re excited to welcome the entire Banc Intranets team to Ncontracts.” 

Ncontracts will now offer banks, credit unions, mortgage companies, and fintech providers, a wide range of capabilities to assess, monitor and manage critical compliance and risk data across the entire organization securely and seamlessly, the company said. 

“The combination of our portal tools for employees and boards combined with the functionality across the suite of Ncontracts solutions,” said Mark Anderson, co-founder and CEO of Banc Intranets, “provides a tremendous advantage for banks and credit unions everywhere” to manage vendor risk and compliance more efficiently.

Ncontract’s software and services, available across all 50 states, automate risk management and compliance operations and assess financial products users market to consumers, according to the company website. Demand for “RegTech” software is critical as federal and state regulations become more complex due to COVID-19 related measures for consumers, businesses, and evolving lending diversity and equity initiatives. 

The combined company will have over 200 employees and more than 1,600 customers around the country.

The addition of the Banc Intranets services and expertise will enable Ncontracts to deliver a comprehensive set of integrated risk management offerings, said Berman.  “With the backing of our financial partner, Gryphon Investors, we are just beginning our next phase of organic and acquisition-driven growth and look forward to continuing to expand our capabilities and resources to achieve our vision of elevating risk management and regulatory compliance from complex burdens to strategic advantages.”

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