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

Real Estate Agent with Jameson Sotheby's International Realty

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

Jameson Sotheby's International Realty, 2934 Central Street, Evanston, IL 60201
Office: 847.869.7300      Cell: 847.924.3313      Email: Almay@aol.com

Evanston Real Estate & North Shore Real Estate
Licensed in Illinois



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Suzanne Strickler
Realty Mark Associates - Havertown, PA
School is never out for the Successful.

When you're happy and snug, but your buyer's a thug.

That's a bummer!

Feb 02, 2019 12:30 PM #45
Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland
HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400 - Pikesville, MD
Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome

Alan May I just found this post about the FBI and the IRS.

Feb 02, 2019 12:44 PM #46
Wayne L. Brown
Franklin Advantage Inc. - Alpine, CA


Wow!  I'm speechless.

Just glad that you are holding up.  

Don't ever give up.

Feb 02, 2019 12:59 PM #47
Shirley Coomer
Keller Williams Realty Sonoran Living - Phoenix, AZ
Realtor, Keller Williams Realty, Phoenix Az

I think we would all be hung up on "This is the FBI".  Sure.......   Quick thinking to ask for a subpoena or the earnest money.  I hadn't thought that far into this, but I am sure that must be the right answer before one hands over earnest money.  Good thing he wasn't a mass murderer!

Feb 02, 2019 01:19 PM #48
Mel Ahrens, MBA, Kelly Right Real Estate
Kelly Right Real Estate - Hood River, OR
Customized Choices for your Real Estate Needs

You were right to be skeptical of an FBI caller.  And he knew people would be cautious since he walked you through how to verify his credentials.  Next time you get a spam FBI call, you may have to listen to it a bit longer given this experience. 

Feb 02, 2019 01:24 PM #49
Mary Ann Daniell Realtor
Coldwell Banker United, Realtors - Subsidiary of NRT LLC - Killeen, TX
Delivering Successful Results Since 1999

This busines is  never boring.  Had a PD detective reach out asking for the floorplan of one of my sales from last year - possible double homicide involved.  So sad.

Feb 02, 2019 02:53 PM #50
Liz and Bill Spear
RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 www.LizTour.com - Mason, OH
RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton)

I worked with a buyer a couple of years ago that went to jail.  Nothing quite as exciting as a bank robbery, just simple B&E and squatting in vacant houses.  Never got to the point of writing a contract.  I ditched him after he stiffed me for an appointment.  The next agent DID write a contract and had it blow up when the buyer got busted.

Feb 02, 2019 03:38 PM #51
Vicki Marsh

I had the DEA contact me about one of my sellers. The government did let the sale go through thank goodness.

Feb 02, 2019 05:47 PM #52
Scott Godzyk
Godzyk Real Estate Services - Manchester, NH
One of the Manchester NH's area Leading Agents

That sure would make for an interesting day Alan May 

Feb 03, 2019 05:37 AM #53
Tom Bailey
Margaret Rudd & Associates Inc. - Oak Island, NC

Wow!! That is a new one. In my previous life as a truck dealer I have seen bags of cash, but never for a home!

Feb 03, 2019 01:32 PM #54
Rebecca Gaujot, Realtor®
Vision Quest Realty - Lewisburg, WV
Lewisburg WV, the go to agent for all real estate

Alan, oh my that had to be somewhat scary. Glad you got the call about Mr. Criminal before you got to the closing table.

Feb 03, 2019 07:24 PM #55
Debe Maxwell, CRS
www.iCharlotteHomes.com | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
Charlotte Homes for Sale - Charlotte Neighborhoods

Oh my goodness, Alan! You're so right - this profession is NEVER boring! Did you have any sense that this guy was a 'bad guy?' Besides being an all-cash buyer, do you look back and see anything that would have tipped you off that his real last name is Criminal?! 

And you're also wise to have the blue suits handle anything from this point on. I do hope you aren't called to testify (that he was under Contract on a property). Not a 'fearful' thing but, just a PITA beyond having a sale that now won't Close.

Ugh! So sorry you had to deal with this, Alan!

Feb 03, 2019 07:41 PM #56
Marney Kirk
Cummings & Co. Realtors - Towson, MD
Towson, Maryland Real Estate

Wow, that is CRAZY, Alan! I can't imagine getting that call - and realizing it is true...and..WOW. Just...WOW.

Feb 04, 2019 08:07 AM #57
Nick Vandekar, 610-203-4543
Long & Foster Real Estate Inc 610-225-7400 - Devon, PA
Tredyffrin Easttown Realtor, Philly Main Line

Great story, you will get free dinners out of this story for a long time. 

Feb 04, 2019 12:04 PM #58
Michael Eisenberg
eXp Realty - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham Real Estate Guy

What a story! Are you going to have to go visit him to get signatures on a rescission? 

Feb 04, 2019 12:17 PM #59
Dan Tabit
Keller Williams Bellevue - Sammamish, WA

Well, at least your client can still use the change of address cards. 


Feb 04, 2019 03:15 PM #60
Joseph Domino 480-390-6011
HomeSmart - Scottsdale, AZ
Real Estate Made Easy

Sounds like a new question we are going to add to our scripts:

  1. Are you working with another agent?
  2. Are you pre-approved with a lender?
  3. Have recently robbed a bank?
Feb 04, 2019 06:21 PM #61
Kevin Mackessy
Blue Olive Properties, LLC - Highlands Ranch, CO
Dedicated. Qualified. Local.

Great to have a wealth of stories, so you can say I have seen it all.  Even surprises to this day get added to the list.  

Feb 05, 2019 09:53 AM #62
Steven Beam
RE/MAX Alliance - Parker Colorado Real Estate. - Parker, CO
Parker Colorado Real Estate

Great story. The rest of your year will be boring now. Hopefully!

Feb 07, 2019 07:49 PM #63
Lisa Weiler
PM LLC - Los Angeles, CA
Interior Design Expert & Home Stager

What a crazy story!

Dec 02, 2019 08:39 PM #64
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