We have received multiple reports of a recent scam that is quickly becoming more prevalent in our area. In most cases, the fraud pertains to vacant land.
In this scam, a fraudster impersonates the rightful property owner and asks the agent to list their land for sale. This “seller” declines to meet in person and only conducts business via text or email. In some cases, the scammer signs the deed and has it notarized, though it is unclear if the notary is fraudulent, or the scammer is presenting false identification to a legitimate notary.
Unfortunately, scammers are not always easy to identify. Be on the lookout for potential clues that they are fraudulent including language which evokes a sense of urgency, misspellings of key information like names and businesses, an abrupt change in instructions, or any unusual attachments or links.
If you encounter suspicious activity, take additional steps to verify the identity and ownership of the property. While it is common to assist clients remotely, vigilance is more imperative than ever to verify a potential client is who they say they are.
Consult your broker for verification processes within your office.
To summarize, these scams include:
- Fraudsters posing as property owners attempting to sell vacant land they do not own.
- The “seller” unwilling to meet in person or communicate other than via text or email.
- The “seller” requesting cash and a quick close.
- The “seller” indicating they are out of state and must use a notary in their state.
If you suspect that you are a victim or see suspicious activity, please contact local authorities and the Attorney General’s office.
Be smart out there and keep yourself and your clients safe!