ALERT: 4 warning signs you may be dealing with a fraudulent seller

We’ve used this space to talk about wire fraud a lot over the last couple of years, and while that danger to our transactions is still relevant, this blog is focused on a different type of scam: fraudsters trying to sell a property that doesn’t belong to them. 

While this message is mostly for our real estate partners, homeowners should also be aware of this danger, especially if you own a vacation home or other secondary residence. Vacant lots are also a prime target. The good news, if you can call it that, is that these scenarios have been getting some news coverage lately (here and here), and our team wants to make sure we do our part to amplify the warning. These stories are both from the east coast, but seller impersonation is becoming a nationwide issue.

Here are some potential red flags when it comes to this type of scam.    

  • The seller only makes contact via email or text and refuses to talk on the phone or meet in person. 
  • The seller says they want a quick sale and are willing to take a lower offer in exchange for closing quicker. Sometimes, the fraudsters will contact a real estate agent and say they have a buyer lined up but need professional assistance or claim that they just need money quickly.
  • The seller can’t produce proper identification in a timely manner.
  • The seller gets anxious as the closing day approaches and offers incentives or is willing to cut corners for a quicker closing. 

To the homeowners out there, we wanted to bring this issue to your attention. That’s not to say your home is in immediate danger of being sold by someone you don’t know, but property owners can create a Google alert for an address and monitor real estate sites from time to time just to make sure nothing is amiss. 

All of us in real estate appreciate a smooth and easy deal, especially if the transaction appears to be dropped in our lap. However, it’s important to remember that some things are too good to be true and that due diligence is important for every file and client. 

Thank you for trusting our teams to be your title and closing provider. Together, we’ll continue to work hard to protect our customers and transactions.

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