Unfortunately, in this high tech day and age, scams surrounding real estate and rental properties are at an all time high. The bad guys are watching, they know that if you’re in the home buying or selling frame of mind, you’ve probably got some money. And they want it.
Wire Fraud is a billion dollar a year scam. There are so many twists and turns to this but here is the main one that we’ve been fighting for years in the industry.
You and your Realtor find “the one”. Emails go back and forth about your potential deal which is what the scammers are waiting to see. How do they know? If a Realtor is using a typical unsecured email system…or you are…like Yahoo, Hotmail or AOL, that scammer is already sitting in that email box just waiting for the right terms to come up. Once they see things like “make an offer” “earnest money” and so on, they’re watching every move you are making.
When it gets to the point where you’ll be making your earnest money deposit, scammers jump into action by sending an email that looks legitimate from your title/escrow or attorney. It will be the “wiring instructions” but it’s the fake instructions. OR if you’re the seller, they’ll jump in when it comes time for you to get the wire with your proceeds. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been lost in a single transaction.
With the tech we have, we are now seeing scammers texting buyers to “venmo” their deposits (or other similar apps). They’ll even call you – because that’s what we tell you to do. A phone call is pretty legitimate, right?
How do we fight this? Personally, you will only get escrow/title information via a text or just an old fashioned phone call. No email. I’ll ask you to keep that information handy (put it in your phone) and then ask you to call them to “meet them”, find out who on their team might be calling and keeping those names handy as well.
Scammers love to steal our photos and property descriptions, put them on Craigslist, Zillow, Realtor .com and other sites and advertise our listings as rentals. When you are listed, we’re going to set up a Google Alert for your address, and I will also be scanning Craigslist at least once a day for your listing. I will be putting this sign in your windows as well:
Should ANYONE come to your door, asking about the home being for rent – do not open the door and have them call your Realtor. ASAP.