We all like to think that we’re attentive enough to identify a scam before we fall victim, but as technology evolves, thieves are finding it easier to click, copy, and forge their way into our bank accounts. Real estate scams are no exception, and each year bring about a new crop of interesting and down-right debilitating scams that can trick even the savviest of shoppers.
Below are examples of real estate scams to familiarize yourself with so that you know the signs:
A Hacked Closing
You’re preparing for your closing when you receive an email from your real estate agent with a link and instructions on how to wire transfer your down payment. But guess what? Your agent’s email was hacked and you’ve now transferred your down payment to a criminal, who knew exactly when your closing was scheduled.
Protect Yourself By Paying In-Person: And trust that your real estate agent isn’t going to throw you a surprise curve ball that suddenly involves changing how money will be transferred.
This is when a scammer poses as a landlord, creates a fake lease, and advertises the property as a rental. They receive the first and last month’s rent from the victim (usually through wire transfer) and then vanish once the money has been received.
Protect Yourself by Doing Research. Search the address online and see if there is an MLS listing and an agent attached.
Imagine paying a moving company a few thousand dollars to transport all of your belongings only to have them demand twice the amount before they unload it. Moving company scams are extremely common, and it’s becoming easier to get duped.
Protect Yourself by Getting Multiple Estimates: This will help you determine if the prices that you have been quoted are similar. Ask to sign the receipt before your belongings are loaded onto their vehicles, and purchase insurance just to be on the safe side.