Ever get an automated phone call about how the IRS filed a lawsuit against you? I bet your heart race sped up a bit until you realized that it couldn’t possibly be true. How about a call from Microsoft about how your computer has a virus? This is an other common scam call. In fact, these are two of the biggest scams going around right now. Remember this: Microsoft and the IRS have both stated that they never call you. They send notices such as this via USPS.
Many years ago, it was the Nigerian prince scam—where the person emailing you asks for $10,000 to help the prince get out of a jam. The promise is that the prince will then thank you with $100,000—not happening! There is a new version of this. A person you know will email you saying he or she is stuck in another country and had a wallet stolen. But, it’s never anyone you truly know—the scammer just hacked the person’s email. The adage, “If it’s too good to be true, it is,” comes to mind.
Online Real Estate Scams
Some current real estate–related scams we’re seeing is a scammer puts a listing on an online classified site, like Craigslist. The ad offers a house for rent, along with photos of the house. Here’s the problem, the house is not for rent, but it’s vacant and the owners, (probably a bank but many are listed by real estate professionals) have no idea that this ad was placed. Here’s the red flag: When you call the landlord, he asks you to wire him the money because he lives out of town, or out of the country. After you wire the money, weeks go by, and you don’t hear from him, so you call, and the phone is disconnected. Many times, the listing agent doesn’t know about the scam until the renters try to move in.
Of course, the newest scam to hit real estate is wire fraud. This type of scam begins when hackers gain access to the email account of a real estate professional or other persons involved in a real estate transaction. Once in, the thief does not strike immediately, but waits and monitors communication about imminent real estate transactions. When the opportunity emerges, the hacker sends out a phony email impersonating the real estate agent, claiming that the agent’s bank information has changed and the home buyer should wire money elsewhere. The email is designed to look like a legitimate email, even down to the font and signature line. The wire transfer destination is actually the thief’s bank account, and once the money has been wired, the criminal takes it and disappears. In most cases, the money cannot be retrieved.
According to Matt Cohe Clareity’s chief technologist, the latest evolution of the scam, however, is truly insidious. To read his recent report, “Reducing the Risk of Real Estate Wire Fraud,” go to https://clareity.com/reducing-the-risk-of-real-estate-wire-fraud
For more information on write fraud, check out this video by Florida Realtors®: https://youtu.be/iCWwIGzgE4w