1. Stolen Down Payments
Scammers are disguising themselves as the client’s title company, telling them to wire the funds in order to close the deal. These scammers take the down payment funds and it’s nearly impossible to track them down.
Always confirm the receipt of internet-based information through a phone conversation or in face-to-face meetings. Double check that the contact information for the title company matches the one in the email. Don’t send anything important via email and know not to open messages with phishing links.
2. Real Estate Lawyer Impersonators
Fraudsters are getting gutsy on the internet. They now even impersonate legal entities and create websites so they appear legitimate. If you are looking to hire legal representation for your real estate deal, double check that a company or lawyer is the real deal.
Do not provide any funds being requested by the lawyers until you have verified they’re authentic. The safest and easiest way to avoid this is to work with referred vendors—who your agent knows are legitimate and have a good track record.
3. Title Fraud
As ridiculous as it sounds, fraudsters are now stealing homes. This is a combination of identity theft and mortgage fraud. These con artists start out by finding out as much information about a person in order to assume their identity. Once they have that and some fake IDs and Social Security cards, they sign off that person’s name on paperwork to transfer the deed.
While this one is a little tricky to prevent, be careful not to share any vulnerable information that can be used against you, either online or through mail that gets thrown out. Be on the look-out for differences in your signature in home-related paperwork, or for information from a mortgage company that doesn’t look familiar.
When in Doubt – Call Your Agent
Better to be safe than sorry. If you receive an email, direct mail or phone call asking you to wire funds or provide information about yourself (social security number, address, phone, etc.) call your agent first to see if it is legitimate.
Source: Based on an article in RisMedia 1/2018