Tagged: real estate Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 13, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , real estate,   

    Scammer sells own father’s house out from under him 

    By Greg Collier

    A man from the Houston, Texas, area is currently on the run from the law after failing to appear for his court appearance. The suspect had been arrested for allegedly selling properties that didn’t belong to him, including one that belonged to his father.

    The suspect’s father allowed his son to stay at the father’s condo. The suspect forged the documents necessary to put the house in his name before selling the condo, and keeping the money for himself. This incident is said to be when the suspect realized he could sell other properties he didn’t own.

    The suspect was able to con his way into transferring the ownership of at least two multi-million dollar properties into his name. According to reports, the suspect would forge deeds and notary signatures in order to steal the properties. The plan was to sell the properties for pennies on the dollar before the actual owners could find out. Properties that had no financial liens on them were said to be the suspect’s main targets.

    A realtor became suspicious when one of their clients was trying to buy a $5 million property for less than half of the market value. This property was being sold by the suspect, which he didn’t actually own. When the realtor contacted police, they found the suspect was trying to sell another property he didn’t own.

    Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. We’ve posted before about victims who were told to leave their homes after scammers submitted forged deeds to the county showing they were the new owners. We’ve also shared stories about vacant lots being targeted in similar scams. If you own a property outright, you may want to pay attention to scams like this.

    Thankfully, there is a way to protect yourself. It’s recommended you go to your county appraiser’s website regularly to monitor the ownership of your property. If your county appraiser does not have a website, you can go to their office. Some counties even have a program where you can be alerted if anything changes on your deed.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 30, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , fake notary, real estate,   

    How to lose your home to a scammer without even trying 

    How to lose your home to a scammer without even trying

    By Greg Collier

    You would think it must be pretty difficult for someone to steal your home out from under you without you noticing. However, it might be easier than you’d imagine.

    A homeowner from St. Louis recently lost ownership of her house to a scammer she never even met. Allegedly, a man went to the Recorder of Deeds with a quitclaim deed which said the homeowner turned the house over to the man for no cost. The man even presented a notarized deed that indicated the homeowner was present when the supposed deal was made. Except, the notary who is said to have officiated over the transfer doesn’t even exist. There is no record of this notary being licensed in Missouri.

    You might assume that once the error was caught, the deed transfer would be cancelled, but the Recorder of Deeds office claims they did nothing wrong. They say it’s not their job to make sure the notary on the deed is licensed. Their excuse is they have 60,000 documents they process in a year, and it’s not their requirement to check each notary.

    Suffice to say, the homeowner is suing both the man who claimed the deed and the Recorder of Deeds office.

    This type of title scam can occur in various locations. We would like to emphasize that while we wish we could provide a foolproof method to shield yourself from such a scam, the effectiveness of protection depends on your place of residence. Certain counties in the US have implemented a program that alerts homeowners via email if any documents bearing their name concerning their property appear in county offices. Unfortunately, not every county offers this service.

    If you have concerns about falling victim to such a scam, it’s advisable to investigate whether your county has a comparable program in place. If not, you may want to consider reaching out to your county authorities and suggesting the implementation of such a safeguard.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 22, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , real estate, ,   

    Elaborate rental scam leaves more families homeless 

    Elaborate rental scam leaves more families homeless

    By Greg Collier

    Rental scams seem to be grabbing plenty of headlines lately. There hasn’t been an increase in rental scams. Rental scams are one of the more common scams going today and has been for a while. We think the headlines are escalating because increasingly more families are becoming homeless because of the scam.

    For example, two families moved from out of state to Aurora, Colorado. The first family is from Las Vegas and saw an and for a four bedroom home for rent on Craigslist. This family tried to do all of their due diligence. They asked the landlord for proof of ownership, which they provided. The father of the family even drove from Las Vegas to Aurora to meet with a realtor who showed him the home. The man agreed to rent the home and arranged to make the deposit.

    The realtor asked for payment through Cash App, which the man almost recognized as a red flag. However, the Las Vegas man insisted on paying through PayPal instead. Once the realtor received the payment, he gave the family the code to enter the home. So, they packed up all their belongings and moved from Las Vegas into the Aurora home.

    They were living in the home for three days when another family showed up looking to move in. This family had moved from Arkansas to Colorado. When the two families compared their stories, they both realized they had been scammed. Everyone from the landlord to the realtor were scammers.

    It wasn’t too long before the property management company showed up. As property management companies are wont to do, they gave the first family 10 days to vacate the premises or be evicted. The second family didn’t even have that luxury. Now, both families are facing homelessness.

    So, how did the scammers gain access to the home in the first place? Once again, the property management company was probably using a lockbox which contained the keys. Too many realtors never change the code on the lockboxes, leaving them vulnerable to scammers. All a scammer has to do is contact the legitimate realtor and ask for a tour. Since many realtors allow guideless tours, they’ll give the lockbox code to any potential customer, including scammers. Once the scammer has the lockbox code, they’ll use it repeatedly to show the home to their victims.

    As always, the best way to protect yourself against rental scammers is to do as much research about the property as possible. Don’t ask the landlord for proof of ownership, instead contact the county’s tax assessor’s office to find out who the real owner is. Do a Google search on the property’s address to see if there are multiple listings with different rental rates. If there are, the lower priced one is almost guaranteed to be a scam listing. Lastly, never use payment apps like PayPal or Cash App for your deposit. These apps are vulnerable to a number of scams themselves.

    If you want to help the two families taken in by this scam, you can donate to their GoFundMe accounts here and here.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 17, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , real estate,   

    Can your house be stolen out from under you after a disaster? 

    Can your house be stolen out from under you after a disaster?

    By Greg Collier

    The other day, a branch of the Federal Government issued two warnings about scams involving the Maui wildfire. Now, another federal office has issued an additional scam warning. And while the warning currently is intended for Maui residents, it can be applicable anywhere in the country.

    The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), through the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), has issued a warning about scammers who will offer mortgage rescue or mortgage assistance to homeowners affected by the Maui wildfire.

    A mortgage rescue scam is a fraudulent scheme that targets individuals who are struggling to make their mortgage payments or are facing the risk of foreclosure on their homes. Scammers prey on the vulnerability and desperation of homeowners in dire financial situations. They promise assistance in avoiding foreclosure or obtaining more favorable mortgage terms, but instead, they exploit the homeowners’ financial distress for their own gain.

    These scams can take various forms, but the most important one to look out for is property deed transferring. In some cases, scammers may pressure homeowners to sign over the deed to their property in exchange for promises of temporary relief from foreclosure or the ability to remain in the home as renters. This can result in homeowners losing ownership of their property entirely.

    Homeowners should also be wary of any mortgage relief program that asks for any fees upfront. Scammers may claim that these fees are necessary to initiate the process of refinancing, modifying the mortgage, or negotiating with lenders. Once the homeowner pays the fees, the scammers disappear without providing any actual assistance.

    To avoid falling victim to a mortgage rescue scam, homeowners should exercise caution and skepticism when approached by anyone offering assistance with their mortgage troubles. It’s crucial to verify the credentials of individuals or organizations claiming to offer such services, and to consult trusted legal or financial professionals before making any decisions.

    Legitimate assistance programs and organizations don’t demand upfront fees and provide transparent information about the services they offer. If something seems too good to be true or feels suspicious, it’s best to do thorough research and seek guidance from reputable sources.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on August 9, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , real estate, ,   

    Do real landlords hold any responsibility for rental scams? 

    Do real landlords hold any responsibility for rental scams?

    By Greg Collier

    It seems like more and more families are being put out on the street because of rental scams. This is when scammers pose as landlords and collect money from victims in the guise of security deposits or rent. Scammers will copy the listings from legitimate realtor sites and post them on places like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace as if they own the property. In too many cases recently, scammers will even obtain access to the property to make their claim of ownership more authentic. The rental scam has been around as long as online marketplaces have existed. In the early days of the scam, fake landlords would ask for payment in money transfers. Now, the scammers have even easier access to their victims’ money thanks to personal payment apps like Zelle and Venmo.

    To make matters worse, many rental properties can be viewed using various rental apps that allow renters to have unguided access to the rental home. Not only has this allowed scammers to circumvent these apps to fool their victims, it’s also allowed the victims to move into homes they thought they legitimately rented. Once the actual landlords find out people have moved in to one of their properties without their say so, the scam victims are usually evicted within days. Many of the victims do not have any other housing options and become homeless. However, do landlords and property management companies share some blame for not securing their properties better?

    A family from Wisconsin recently fell victim to a rental scam and are now facing an uncertain future. They found a listing online for a townhouse that was perfect for them. They only spoke to the supposed property agent by phone and text. The family was given an access code to a lockbox that contained keys to the property. This allowed them to tour the townhouse alone. The family forwarded the payment to the person they were dealing with. While the report doesn’t state how the payment was sent, it’s safe to assume a personal payment app was used.

    The day after the family moved in, another family showed up also looking to move in. That’s when the actual property management company stepped in and gave the family one week to move out.

    When reached for comment by local media, the management company said they use a third-party platform to perform the unassisted tours. The third party is said to verify potential renters by doing a driver’s license and credit card check. However, it seems once an ID check is passed, the code to access the lockbox can be accessed over and over again. That makes the lockboxes vulnerable to scammers, as they can easily pass an ID check with stolen information. There’s already a housing crisis in this country. It doesn’t need to be worsened by scammers and shoddy security.

    If you’re looking to rent a new home, we can’t stress enough to do as much research on the property as possible before committing any money. Even as something as simple as doing a web search on the property’s address can turn up a trove of information that may help you avoid a rental scam. Also, never use apps like Venmo or Cash App to make any kind of deposit or rent payment. These apps are too easily manipulated by scammers to get your money and then disappear. Lastly, read any and all paperwork carefully to make sure the documentation isn’t fake.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 25, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , real estate, ,   

    Reporter’s home used in rental scam 

    By Greg Collier

    If you’re a rental scammer, the last house you want to use in your scam is probably one which belongs to a police officer. The second to last house a scammer would want to use would most likely belong to a reporter. But that’s precisely what happened to a TV reporter from the Hampton Roads, Virginia area.

    The reporter listed her home for rent on Zillow and only Zillow. After posting her home on Zillow, she received a text from a good Samaritan. The man who texted her said he found her home listed for rent on Craigslist. Not only did the Craigslist ad list the home for a cheaper rent, but the scammer was asking for an $80 application fee. The scammer had reportedly been talking to the man for two days before the man drove over to the property and called the number that was on the ‘for rent’ sign.

    Then the reporter did what reporters do, she began to investigate the phony listing. During her investigation, she also found her home listed for rent on Facebook Marketplace. As you might expect, she called the phone number listed in the phony ads. The scammer said he would meet with her to show her the home and would need $1000 for the security deposit. However, when it came time to meet, the scammer instead sent the reporter a link to the application and asked for the $80 application fee. The reporter even commented on how official looking the application was.

    The reporter called the scammer and asked him how long he owned the home, with the scammer replying two years. She then told the scammer she was both the owner of the home and a reporter. The scammer hung up the call, and when the reporter tried to call back, she only got the voicemail message.

    If you’re looking to rent or sell your home online, there’s not much you can do to prevent it being used in a scam. We have seen online listings where the seller states that the home is not listed on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. That may aid in discouraging renters from falling victim to a rental scam.

    We understand that there may be urgent situations requiring individuals to find a new home swiftly. However, regardless of the circumstances, it is crucial for potential renters to dedicate time to researching a property before making any financial commitments. One essential step is to determine the current rental rates for homes in the desired area. If a particular home seems remarkably affordable, exercising caution is advisable. Engage in a thorough web search using the property’s address to identify any other listings associated with different realtors and rental prices, as scammers often replicate legitimate real estate offers. Additionally, it is prudent to verify the true ownership of the property by consulting the county’s tax assessor office or website. By taking these precautionary measures, individuals can protect themselves from potential rental scams and ensure a safe and informed decision-making process.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 10, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , real estate, , ,   

    Another family homeless after rental scam 

    By Greg Collier

    After mistakenly believing they had legitimately rented a home, a Florida family finds themselves homeless and forced to live on the streets. Tragically, stories like this are becoming far too common, as rental scammers continue to prey on families who are just looking for a roof over their heads.

    This family found a home for rent in their price range on Facebook Marketplace. The person who listed the home on Marketplace then directed the family to tour the home using an app called Rently. For those unfamiliar with Rently, it’s a service that allows prospective tenants to view and access rental properties without the need for a leasing agent or property manager to be present. Lockboxes are put on the doors of homes for rent or sale, and people who want to tour the home are given a combination to the lockbox, which has the keys in it.

    To get access to these homes, scammers will pose as prospective renters or buyers just so they can get the lockbox combination. Many realtors aren’t very good about changing the lockbox combinations, so scammers can use them repeatedly if need be.

    After the family toured the home and said they were interested in renting, the supposed landlord asked them for four months rent in advance, which came to an eye-watering $7000. Part of the payment was even asked for in eBay gift cards.

    After they moved in to the home, a sheriff’s deputy showed up at the door to inform the family they were trespassing and needed to leave.

    The home was available for rent, but was being rented out by a property management company.

    To add insult to injury, the family’s trailer that they were towing broke just a few feet after leaving the property.

    Just because an ad is listed on a multi-billion dollar platform like Facebook Marketplace doesn’t guarantee the listing is legitimate. Facebook was a haven for scammers long before Marketplace was implemented. Another red flag in this story is the landlord not being present during the home’s tour, or at any other time at all. And the biggest red flag was when partial payment was asked for in gift cards. As we are fond of saying, gift cards are the currency of scammers.

    We understand there are times when someone needs to find a new home quickly as possible. But no matter the reason, prospective renters should always take the time to research a property before paying any money. Research the going rate for rental homes in that area. If the home you’re looking at seems like a bargain, be suspicious. Do a web search on the address to see if other listings appear with different realtor names and rental prices, as scammers often copy legitimate real estate listings. And as always, you can check with the county’s tax assessor office or website to see who the true owner of the home really is.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on July 6, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , real estate, ,   

    Are obituaries gold mines for scammers? 

    Are obituaries gold mines for scammers?

    By Greg Collier

    Recently, we’ve published a number of posts about a scam that involves funeral homes. In this scam, scammers comb the obituaries, looking for a notice that lists the funeral home being used. This allows the scammers to pose as the funeral home while trying to extort money from the deceased’s family. Now, it seems, that scammers are using the obituaries for a different scam.

    In Pennsylvania, a family was looking for a new home to rent. The family found a home for rent on Facebook Marketplace that they thought was quite the bargain at $800 a month. The home’s supposed owner said they had just accepted a job out of state, as to why they were renting the home. When the family asked to see inside the home, they were told they would need to send the money first, then they would be sent a key and a contract.

    This struck the family as odd, so they decided to do a web search on the homeowner. The name the family had been given belonged to a man who had just recently passed away. The home that was listed had belonged to the deceased man, but it was actually being put up for sale.

    The theory is scammers are using the properties of the recently deceased in order to avoid having their potential victims being warned away.

    While this family thankfully avoided being scammed, there could potentially be victims out there who lost money to this scam.

    When looking to rent a new home, you can never do enough research. Not only should you web search the home’s address to look for duplicate listings, also check the names of anyone involved who claims to be the landlord or homeowner. This is especially important when the rental price seems too good to be true.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on June 16, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: credit check, , real estate, ,   

    New type of rental scam changes the game 

    By Greg Collier

    We’re pretty sure when Craigslist first started allowing real estate listings, the rental scam was born. For any new readers, the rental scam is when a scammer will list a property online for rent which they don’t actually own. Scammers will copy a legitimate listing from a realtor of a property which is for sale, then post it for rent on unregulated marketplaces like Craigslist. The listing will have a below-market rent in order to lure in victims. Typically, these scammers will ask for either a security deposit or first month’d rent before disappearing with the victim’s money. These scams have cost victims thousands of dollars and have left many of them homeless.

    However, there is a new rental scam that’s occurring across the country, according to the Better Business Bureau. The BBB says these new scammers aren’t after renters’ money, but their personal information instead.

    The scammers are still using the same tricks to find a potential victim, but instead of trying to take their money, the scammers are having victims fill out phony credit checks. Victims are being led to a website that appears to be professional and legitimate, but once renters give their personal information, the scammers disappear with the victim’s identity.

    Now, it’s not unusual for landlords to perform credit checks before renting to a new tenant. However, there are ways to protect yourself from this scam, and many of them are the same ways to protect yourself from the typical rental scam.

    The first thing you should do is Google the address of the rental property. If there are duplicate listings and the landlord details don’t match, there’s a good chance you’ve discovered a scam listing. If the listing from a realtor’s website says the home is for sale, or the rent is more expensive, then the other listing is the phony one. And as always, you can always check with the county’s tax office or website to find out who the true landlord is.

  • Geebo 8:00 am on May 15, 2023 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: consumer alert, house flipping, houses for cash, real estate, we buy houses   

    Why you shouldn’t sell a home to house flippers 

    By Greg Collier

    Have you ever seen a billboard that advertises a company that will buy any home? Many of those advertisements belong to one company who has over 1000 franchises in the US. You may have even had to use their services. For example, say a family member passed on, and their house was left to you. The house had already fallen into a state of disrepair, and would cost too much money before you could even consider selling it. That’s where these house flipping companies come in. They promise to make the selling process quick and easy while paying you a fair price. However, the company might believe that promises were made to be broken.

    According to a recent report from ProPublica, the biggest of these house flipping companies has allegedly engaged in some shady business practices. ProPublica says that this company operates under the secret mantra of ‘find the pain’. The company accused of taking advantage of homeowners who may be suffering from mental declines, among other underhanded tactics to get homeowners to sign on the dotted line. And when some homeowners have changed their mind about the sale, they get sued by the company. While the company is not an outright scam, you may want to explore other options when trying to sell a home quickly.

    When selling such a property, be realistic about the value of your home. Price it too high, and you might turn off potential buyers. Price it too low, and you might not get the full value of the property. Consider getting a professional appraisal or consulting a real estate agent to determine the appropriate price.

    Also, consider being flexible with the closing date or accepting offers with contingencies, such as a home inspection or appraisal. This can make the sale process smoother and increase the likelihood of a quick sale.

Compose new post
Next post/Next comment
Previous post/Previous comment
Show/Hide comments
Go to top
Go to login
Show/Hide help
shift + esc