Buyers and Agents beware: Phishing and Pre Approvals

Mortgage and Lending with HomeBridge Financial Services (NJ) NMLS 248937

don't get hooked by a Phishing attempt

After decades in this industry I am still surprised at what happens. Yesterday was a doozy...  

Standing at my desk yesterday morning (I'm cool like that, I have a fancy standing desk....)  I get an email from an agent I know, but do not do a lot of business with..

"Fully executed contracts for you"  

Awesome.. One of my buyers found a home in this crazy market..  I open the contract and I don't recognize the name at all.  I search everywhere in my computer even into archive files... confirming I never spoke to them.  

Next.. Call the agent- assuming the contract came to me by mistake, and they must be working with someone else from my office.  Nope- she has a pre-approval letter from me.. At this point I am beginning to worry about my mental health.. I'm busy, but never so busy I completely forget a buyer...  I asked her to email me the pre-approval letter.. It looks JUST like one of ours, It has similar verbiage, it has my name, my address, my license number.... But there were RED flags... It had an old company logo, it had the wrong phone number and a few other things that would only be evident to me.

Now my gut is in a huge knot, I'm angry and want to figure out who is posing as me, (and why??)  The "client" isn't returning emails, I get his phone number, straight to Voicemail.. and the anger level and knot in my gut continue to get worse. Looking at the contract, I know most of the people involved.  I know the listing agent accepts offers based on MY letters.. so I decide I need to call the buyer's attorney, who I also know.. He is shocked, I explain how my reputation is important and I need to figure this out.. he agreed and reached out for his client.

Finally my phone rings, it is the buyer.. He explains how he did a web search for lenders, filled out an online form - I popped up on the list and he was happy I was local and chose me and it generated a pre-approval for him.. This is not something I am subscribed to, nor is it something my company does. You cannot blindly qualify people accurately, you need to speak to them. 

Now there is a two fold concern:

  1. The client gave all his personal information to some stranger on the internet.. I am concerned what is happening with his information, have they already applied for credit in his name?
  2. For Me: There is some nefarious person using my information for an unknown (but probably bad) purpose. I need to figure out who these people are and how do I stop it.

Buyer Beware: It is the biggest transaction in your life. Make sure you actually speak with someone before you fill in a generic form online. This is probably the biggest financial transaction in your life, you need a trusted advisor to be your partner working with you.

Agents beware... CALL the Loan Officer when you get a pre-approval, Confirm it is real. (I never thought I'd actually have to say that) I have seen horrible pre-approvals from other loan officers that didn't even run credit, but to see a fraudulent one truly shocked me especially since it had my name on it.

Phishing attempts are real, and they can come in many forms. Most of us realize that email is the number one form and most are pretty easy to recognize.  Another popular method that we had seen as a company is phone calls where the perpetrator calls pretending to be someone from the company to gain access to your system. Never (Ever) give anyone your log in information.  Now this "fake" web page shows another way the bad guys can fish for your information and how good they are at making it look real.

Be vigilant, be cynical, and keep your eyes open... and do your best to work with trusted local people, that will help to avoid being a victim of.

The Saga for this buyer continues, he will be dropping off information to my office today, in person.. We are still trying to figure it all out.. To Be Continued......

Have a great day, and stay safe!


Call me for all your residential lending needs!


Robert Rauf 
Mortgage Loan Originator NMLS# 248937 
or my blog: 
Office: (732)908-4868  Cell (732)740-0175

Since 1987 I have been helping my clients fulfill their dream of home ownership! HomeBridge Financial Services, Formerly REMN, HomeBridge Financial Services is located at 9 Grand Ave, Building 2 Suite A Toms River, NJ 08753. NMLS #6521. New Jersey Licensed Lender and Mortgage Banker #L041053. Visit for more information. NJ Mortgages, New Jersey Mortgages, Mortgages in NJ, mortgage in New Jersey, Mortgages in New Jersey, Toms River NJ 08753, Toms River NJ 08755, Brick NJ 08723, Brick NJ 08724 Mortgage in Ocean County NJ, Mortgage in Monmouth County NJ, Jackson NJ 08527, Howell NJ 07731, Lacey 08731 08734, Beachwood 08722 Bayville 08721, 

Comments (4)

Joe Jackson
Keller Williams Capital Partners Realty - Columbus, OH
Clintonville and Central Ohio Real Estate Expert

This is a great post and thanks for sharing with us!

Feb 10, 2021 07:59 AM
Debe Maxwell, CRS | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
The right Charlotte REALTOR!

Thanks for the warning Robert. You can never be too careful these days.

Feb 11, 2021 02:53 PM
Will Hamm
Hamm Homes - Aurora, CO
"Where There's a Will, There's a Way!"

Hello Robert and Thank You, You were the first person to comment on my first blog in January 31,2011!


Feb 24, 2021 08:03 AM
Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®
RE/MAX Platinum - Waukesha, WI
Giving Back With Each Home Sold!

Great information.   Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful day!

Nov 12, 2021 07:08 AM