When your client hits your eye with a call from the FBI, that's not boring.

Real Estate Agent with Coldwell Banker Residential

It's a bit disconcerting when you get a call, out of the blue, from the FBI.

Your initial response is that this is just one more of those spam calls.  Clearly it's not really the FBI.  "Can you prove that you're really FBI?"

"Yes", the disembodied voice on the other end of the phone sounding a little like Sgt. Joe Friday, says "Go to the following FBI website"... (still a little suspect, if you ask me), "and then google my name... and FBI Chicago"... he goes on calmly, and clearly to ease my mind and build his credentials.

Once he's convinced me about his identity, (and he did convince me, in spades) he goes on to further blow my mind, explaining the purpose of his call, and asks me about one of my clients..

"Are you working with a buyer named "Sam Criminal"? [yes] .... Has he begun a transaction, yet? [yes] Has he turned over any money, yet? [yes, initial earnest money]...

Okay, he goes on to tell me that my client is now in jail, and has been arrested for a recent armed bank robbery.  He tells me to google a recent bank robbery in a local suburb... which I do, and poof.... up comes the FBI bank-robbery website... showing the bank surveillance video snapshot of ... who else... a very clear image of my client entering the bank, just two days before we wrote up our offer.  Clearly, he will not be completing this transaction with his ill-gotten-gains.

I need to call the listing agent and disappoint him, and his sellers.  There will be no inspection... there will be no sale.  I'm so sorry.  All I can tell him is that my client will no longer be able to perform.

I'd done everything right... asked for a preapproval... when he said he'd be paying cash, I had him provide "proof of funds".... little did I realize that he wanted to pay in small unmarked non-sequential bills... although I shoulda known, since his last name is "Criminal"... (just kiddin'... I made that up to protect the guilty) that would have been fun to see him show up at closing with a suitcase full of folding money.

The FBI told me that we would need to turn over the earnest money (which we were holding)... I told him that we'll need a subpoena, and they'll have to handle that through our corporate blue-suits.

Meanwhile, I'm just mourning a nice sale to start off the year.

I love this business.  Never boring. Never boring.

Posted by

 ALAN MAY, Realtor®   
Specializing in Evanston Real Estate and North Shore Real Estate

Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate, 1710 Central Street, Evanston, IL 60201
847.425.3779      Cell: 847.924.3313      Email: Almay@aol.com

Evanston Real Estate & North Shore Real Estate
Licensed in Illinois



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Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD
ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
REALTORS® in Clark County, WA

Good Lord, that's a new one for me. You can't make this stuff up - it's extraordinary to me that he tried to purchase a home with his stolen funds. Shouldn't he have fled the country or something. Mr. Criminal is not only dishonest, he's dumb. 

Jan 13, 2019 09:24 AM #17
Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Real Estate Agent, Top 1% of Lyon Agents
Lyon Real Estate - Sacramento, CA
Put 40 years of experience to work for you

FBI or no FBI, they would not extract any information out of me. Even if your client is a crook, and by all extenuating circumstances it would appear he was, you're probably still governed by fiduciary. Although in this case the guy is unlikely to sue, LOL.

I would ask for a warrant and then let the lawyers deal with it. How did they know to call you anyway? What happened? Did the guy tell the FBI, whoa, you can't haul me off to jail because I'm in the middle of buying a house, just call my agent, Alan May?

Jan 13, 2019 10:09 AM #18
Anna Banana Kruchten CRB, CRS 602-380-4886
Phoenix Property Shoppe - Phoenix, AZ
Arizona's Top Banana!

Holy smokes that came out of the blue - never heard of this before Alan but it doesn't suprpise me.  So sorry you lost the sale - that is a bummer. Thank goodness this FBi guy found you and made contact.  That would/could have turned into a whole other story if it had gone on longer.

Jan 13, 2019 10:44 AM #19
Francine Viola
Coldwell Banker Evergreen Olympic Realty, Olympia WA - Olympia, WA
In Tune with your Real Estate Needs - Olympia WA

Get outta town?!  Wow - well, that's a new one.  You seem to be handling this better than I would be.  

Jan 13, 2019 10:50 AM #20
Linda Metallo DiBenardo
RE/MAX Impact, Lockport, Illinois - Lockport, IL

Elizabeth Weintraub ( #18) raises a good question.   Crook or not, what is your fiduciary responsibility?     Interesting...

Jan 13, 2019 10:55 AM #21
Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland
HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400 - Pikesville, MD
Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome

I remember a call from the FBI but it was AFTER the deal was completed. Good for the seller that it was found before inspections and the house can be put right back on the market. Sorry, you have to deal with this... but it did make a good post!

Jan 13, 2019 02:16 PM #22
Kat Palmiotti
Grand Lux Realty, Monroe NY, 914-419-0270, kat@thehousekat.com - Monroe, NY
The House Kat

Wow, if that had happened to me, I'd have been disappointed and intrigued all at the same time. Obviously bummed that the commission wasn't going to happen but a bit intrigued that I was out mingling around town with a big-time criminal.

Jan 14, 2019 03:24 AM #23
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

Wow...never a dull moment doesn't seem strong enough here. LOL

I'm not sure I would have continued the call after hearing FBI. Probably would have just hung up. I wonder if he would have called back. LOL

Jan 14, 2019 07:33 AM #24
Margaret Goss
Baird & Warner Real Estate - Winnetka, IL
Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate

That's gotta be the best story of 2019 (young as it as.) Weird to think if he hadn't been caught he would have probably consummated the deal - after laundering it, of course.

Jan 14, 2019 07:50 AM #25
Gene Mundt, IL/WI Mortgage Originator - FHA/VA/Conv/Jumbo/Portfolio/Refi
NMLS #216987, IL Lic. 031.0006220, WI Licensed. APMC NMLS #175656 - New Lenox, IL
708.921.6331 - 40+ yrs experience

Wow.  Just ... wow.  And can I say it again??

Wow ...


Jan 15, 2019 11:03 AM #26
Kevin J. May
Florida Supreme Realty - Hobe Sound, FL
Serving the Treasure & Paradise Coasts of Florida

We've had three closings with the proverbial briefcase full of cash. None were with "Sam Criminal" although I was amazed at how much you can cram into one. If you get a call from Robert Mueller don't answer!

Jan 15, 2019 02:18 PM #27
Sondra Meyer:
Star View Real Estate - Colorado Springs, CO
See It. Experience It. Live It.


I was hoping that the FBI agent wanted to use you as their real estate agent to buy or sell a home.   

On the postive side, at least you were not driving the client around in your car when he got apprehended.     

Jan 15, 2019 04:51 PM #28
Alan Grizzle
Chestatee Real Estate - Dahlonega, GA
Full Time Realtor, Lifelong Resident of Dahlonega

I too had to speak with a FBI agent about a transaction.

It had a much happyier ending than your deal. She was my client and I sold her five acre river lot. 

Jan 15, 2019 07:19 PM #29
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Wow, Alan, that is quite a story. Hope I never get that call from the FBI.


Jan 15, 2019 09:57 PM #30
Amanda S. Davidson
Amanda Davidson Real Estate Group - Alexandria, VA
Alexandria Virginia Homes For Sale

Alan, I cannot imagine getting this call. Wish you had a picture of your face when he told you what happened! If there's any good from this it's the timing of when it happened for you, the listing agent, and the seller. Unreal.

Jan 16, 2019 06:02 AM #31
Kathy Akers
Fathom Realty NC LLC - Rocky Mount, NC
Your Trusted Real Estate Advisor

Alan, this would be a good lead off story for a book - "Everything I didn't learn in Real Estate School".  I am not sure how I would have handled that call.

Jan 16, 2019 07:58 AM #32
Anne Corbin
Long and Foster - Lake Anna - Spotsylvania, VA
Serving Lake Anna & Central Virginia

Oh my! What a learning experience. I don't know how you could have avoided it other than asking where the funds came from. You could have asked him if the money came from a bank robbery and then watched his expression, which I'm sure would have been priceless!

Jan 16, 2019 11:24 AM #33
Susan Haughton
Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545 - Alexandria, VA
Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results.

Look at the great stor and blogging material you got out of it!

Jan 16, 2019 03:23 PM #34
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

Have never heard a story like this!!!  So glad you got that FBI call in advance.  WOW...will be hard to top that one !

Jan 17, 2019 07:57 AM #35
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Holy Guacamole!  Now that's got to have been a chilling call.  Wow!  I'm sure they know that they have to go through the loop holes on earnest money, but what a call to receive!  

Jan 17, 2019 10:18 AM #36
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