Watch out for scams!

Agents, title companies and sellers beware.  There is a scam that is out there that is hurting our industry.  If you receive a contract from, hear or read about buyers from out of the country that are looking to pay cash for a house, that want to settle quickly, want to use your “reputable” settlement company and have never seen the house, run fast as you can from this situation.  They will promise to wire the funds to your title company or the real estate company once the contract is ratified – usually late on Thursday or on a Friday – conduct a home inspection through a friend or relative over the weekend, then void the contract and request their funds be wired to their account by Monday or Tuesday at the latest.  What is the problem you ask?  The wire transfer is counterfeit and everyone gets caught in the middle and the buyer receives money that was never theirs from the title company or real estate office.  In some scenarios, they will say their country won’t allow them to wire the funds but will have their friend or relative drop off a certified check.  These funds too are counterfeit and the funds should not be released to the buyer unless verified they are valid funds.

What can you do to prevent this you ask?  First, make sure they have seen the house – not just pictures on the internet.  You wouldn’t buy a house this way and only a very few select people would – military or investors being ones that come to mind.  Also, do as we do, Google the buyer, the buyer’s agent and the lender on every case.  See what you can find out about them.  See if they are on social media sites like Facebook or Linkedin.  Learn all you can about them.  In addition, check DPOR and see if there are any outstanding violations with the agent at the state level as they too may be in on the scam.  Conduct your due diligence – ask to see “proof of funds” from a reputable source and Google the source if you are not familiar with them.  And lastly, don’t accept the contract until the funds prove to be valid which can typically take 3 to 4 days of deposit into an account.

Here are examples of what other agents are receiving from the web.  They may take on different forms of these emails so be on the alert.  Some agents believe this to be a scam to sign up for Docusign but it is really a scam to get money.

One agent received a lead through Realtor.com

Att. Please i will need an offer on this,

Thank you very much for the email, I would like to purchase this property MLS # 4214263, located at 15380 Little Stone Way Alpharetta.  The indicated price is $613,000.00 Please note my offering price is $600,000.00 Please send me the contract for this property and the following phrase should be added on the contract.

1. I will want to close on 12th June, 2011

2. I want to put down $30,000.00 Earnest money

3. I want to put contingency on inspection on the contract.

I and my wife will be buying the property and the buyers name should be. Leo Thang and Jiao Thang. Our address is 4645 Jane Street, Toronto Ontario Canada M3N 2K9

Please forward me a purchase contract agreement via docusign format, their website is http://www.docusign.com/ or any other electronic document I don't have access to a printer or scanner here therefore I can not sign and send it back in PDF format I am in a remote area now and i will like to do the signing myself on behalf of my wife.

I would also like to use a reliable title company for the closing. Kindly advise regarding this issue.

Thanks for your understanding. I await the purchase contract agreement as soon as possible.

Regards,
Leo Thang
Tel;003463236828

And some just receive leads through email…

Larry Sabo – Realtor in California

Dear Larry Sabo,

Att. Please i will need an offer on this,

Thank you very much for the email, I would like to purchase this property MLS # 116400, located at 3403 Beaver Brae Dr South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150.The indicated price is $659,000.00 Please note my offering price is $640,000.00 Please send me the contract for this property and the following phrase should be added on the contract.

1. I will want to close on 13th June, 2011

2. I want to put down $30,000.00 Earnest money

3. I want to put contingency on inspection on the contract.

I and my wife will be buying the property and the buyers name should be. Leo Thang and Jiao Thang. Our address is 4645 Jane Street, Toronto Ontario Canada M3N 2K9

Please forward me a purchase contract agreement via docusign format, their website is http://www.docusign.com/ or any other electronic document I don't have access to a printer or scanner here therefore I can not sign and send it back in PDF format I am in a remote area now and i will like to do the signing myself on behalf of my wife.

I would also like to use a reliable title company for the closing. Kindly advise regarding this issue.

Thanks for your understanding. I await the purchase contract agreement as soon as possible.
Regards, Leo Thang

As you can see, Leo Thang is just one person attempting this across the country – there are sure to be others.  Become educated on the red flags, stay on alert for anything unusual similar to this situation, and keep yourself and your sellers from becoming victims of a scam.  Get it?  Got it?  Good!

Now, go sell something – legitimately!

 

4 thoughts on “Watch out for scams!

  1. Rita Hawes says:

    I too, received a request to write an offer on a $630,000 property with home inspection contingency….paying cash, sight unseen. The ‘buyer’ went as far as mailing in a $344,000 Certified ‘check to the Settlement Company…..UNSIGNED and stolen from TDBank. I never involved the seller….they were totally Unaware the offer was written and signed since I was never provided proof of funds to proceed……BUT….the banK fraud division knows, and the US Postal inspector is investigating. This group is out of Canada, the buyer name is listed as Kawata Miyoko. Do your due diligence if contacted by these scammers, and protect the sellers in these transactions. I contacted the listing agent and made him aware of what was going on. Thanks go to Art Grace who also worked through this with me and corresponded as well with this ‘buyer’ and sent a very strong message to him. QUIT WASTING OUR TIME was the bottom line…… And the matter was turned over to the authorities.

  2. Fellow Realtors,
    Yes the same people tried again !!! this time in CALIFORNIA Los Angeles,town Arcadia ,
    here is the email and it look very similar to one posted here,
    be on lookout for SCAMS !!!!
    Realtor
    John Vostenak
    #00871958
    Att. Please i will need an offer on this,
    Thank you very much for the email, I would like to purchase this property MLS# A11060366, located at 322 W MAGNA VISTA AV , Arcadia 91007. The indicated price is $698,000.00. Please note my offering price is $680,000.00. Please send me the contract for this property and the following phrase should be added on the contract.
    I will want to close on 13th July, 2011 and want to put down $30,000.00 Earnest money
    2. I want to put contingency on inspection on the contract.
    I and my wife will be buying the property and the buyers name should be. Leo Thang and Jiao Thang. Our address is 4645 Jane Street, Toronto Ontario Canada M3N 2K9
    Please forward me a purchase contract agreement via docusign format, their website is http://www.docusign.com/ or any other electronic document I don’t have access to a printer or scanner here therefore I can not sign and send it back in PDF format I am in a remote area now and i will like to do the signing myself on behalf of my wife.
    I would also like to use a reliable title company for the closing. Kindly advise regarding this issue. Because i will need the wiring information of the company.
    Thanks for your understanding. I await the purchase contract agreement as soon as possible.
    Regards,
    Leo Thang
    Tel; 034634095066

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