Anatomy Of A Real Estate Scammer

Commercial Real Estate Agent with Next Wave RE Investments LLC Bullhead City AZ Commercial RE Broker AZ BR 528507000

In the past 2 years, two 'near misses' . . .

And even more 'not evens'  . . .

It becomes easier and easier to spot real estate scammers because strangely, they virtually never deviate from the script.

First, they will ask for additional information on a property. You send a full package.

A couple of days go by and then without any further contact, they ALWAYS want to make a FULL PRICE OFFER with NO earnest money, because they're gonna pay the full amount on execution (which we can guess at but won't know till we know the close date).

There is always a 'distress' reason they cannot view the property, meet with you or go over the paperwork together. Traveling, illness, busy, dog peed on their homework.

It will immediately become apparent that they DID NOT REVIEW the information package. 

They will give you a mailing address that shows they do not own the property and don't seem to have any relation to the legal owners. They could be co-conspirators but more likely they have no idea their address is being used.

Google the email address and it either goes nowhere or to something completely unrelated (try this one, LOL what the hell business is this guy in?)

Then, SHOULD YOU send them a contract (they'll Docusign) and open an escrow . . . they will tell you their personal banker in China or Canada or some other foreign country needs to mail a check because a wire transfer just is not possible (of course it is, but they will make an excuse).

When we say we must wire, they say 'surely you must understand how my banker feels'.  Uhhhh, no actually we don't. 

They think that they can obtain title to property with a phony check. Often made out in an amount WAYYYYY over the deal price and asking to be reimbursed for the overage by the escrow company.

There is often 'poor English'. 

They will either not give you a phone number ("I am sooo very busy on a very important top secret project and unavailable to speak via phone") or it is not their phone number or the name on the voicemail is not their name.

OR you can hear it transfer from one phone number to another, you'll hear the clickthroughs on a VOIP.

If you encounter something like this, chances are it is just not legit . . . I turn in these grifters to Loopnet practically monthly. Block them and you can even turn them into the FTC as internet fraudsters . . .

Escrow companies are wise to these attempts and many of ours have national fraudster lists that get turned over to the FBI as well.

A legitimate lead who is a real buyer will almost always want to 

  • phone you with questions
  • negotiate price
  • not have a problem with earnest money and
  • have a verifiable mailing address, company info and phone number.

Crooks are smart these days, but it's pretty easy to tell the dumb ones if you are watching. Don't be so eager to make a deal that you put your seller client in danger! 

We've always put language into the contracts that say 'Closing cannot occur until funds to close are received and verified' . . . 

so the worst of it is they waste our time with their lame attempts.

I have 2 words for these idiots . . . nope, it's not those. LOL

I said hey, shut up (can't shut up) They could not shut up

Comments (13)

Ray Henson
eXp Realty of California, Inc. (lic. #01878277) - Elk Grove, CA

I just received a lead that says they are too busy to take phone calls.  Please follow me on Instagram and we can talk there.  It just does not make sense. 

It is getting to the point that real estate agents have to become detectives.

May 13, 2022 11:00 AM
Candice A. Donofrio

Yeah come on I work with people that are busy, I just closed a guy with 23 businesses and he still had time to communicate. Wanting to be a ghost is a good tell.

May 13, 2022 11:09 AM
Nick Vandekar, 610-203-4543
Long & Foster Real Estate Inc 610-225-7400 - Devon, PA
Selling the Main Line & Chester County

I have had emails from supposedly the CEO of a local company, however looking closely the email was just a little different spelling and as you mention, the language had lots of errors. But similar MO. I even had one who attached copies of his Chinese Bank account showing he had the funds. It looked like it had been created in Word.

May 13, 2022 11:05 AM
Candice A. Donofrio

We had one recently where the difference between the legit company and the fake one was a simple hyphen.

May 13, 2022 11:12 AM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Candice - more evidence that scammers (and spammers) never sleep.  Now, there's a marketing angle to consider. . .    

May 13, 2022 11:14 AM
Candice A. Donofrio

They should sleep, they are tired LOL

May 13, 2022 11:22 AM
Anna Banana Kruchten Phoenix Broker
HomeSmart Real Estate - Phoenix, AZ

And the stories go on.  I can't even think of how many bogus scams I've heard over the years.  Not happening kids.

May 13, 2022 11:49 AM
Candice A. Donofrio

I follow Jesi Wolnik on FB and the title fraud cases, astounding! So many scammers!

May 13, 2022 11:52 AM
Anna Banana Kruchten Phoenix Broker

Yes I first heard of the fraud charge issue at a broker meeting from Jesi and then went on to let my client base know about the seriousness of the issue. She is a wealth of information and I so appreciate her.

May 13, 2022 12:30 PM
Candice A. Donofrio

I do too, I am a client!

May 14, 2022 11:46 AM
Bill Salvatore - East Valley
Arizona Elite Properties - Chandler, AZ
Realtor - 602-999-0952 / em:

Thank you for the great information in your blog today to share with us here on the Rain.  Make it a great day! bill


May 13, 2022 12:02 PM
Candice A. Donofrio

Thank you!

May 14, 2022 08:37 AM
Rocky Dickerson
Realty One Group - Las Vegas, NV
Superior Service!

I guess that I am lucky enough to have never been contacted by one. Thanks for sharing

May 13, 2022 05:48 PM
Candice A. Donofrio

Sooner or later they pop up, far more in commercial it seems for me but title fraud has been a problem down South according to my attorney!

May 14, 2022 08:38 AM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Good morning, Candace... I can relate... we get phone calls, we get flyers in our mail box, we get letters, we get postcards. Sooo tiresome. I mostly worry about the people who don't realize this is a scam.

May 14, 2022 05:50 AM
Candice A. Donofrio

It 'looks legit' at first and they might slightly deviate from the script in some way but the bad English is a big tell!

May 14, 2022 08:39 AM
Brian England
Arizona Focus Realty - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

These types of scams have been going on for way too long, it seems that it should be possible to track them down, arrest them and make sure they never scam again.

May 14, 2022 06:59 AM
Candice A. Donofrio

It is, so first Loopnet blocks their IP, turning them into FBI/FTC can get them investigated and some skate but others can get caught!

May 14, 2022 08:39 AM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Candice- it's sad and disgusting that these scammers continue to try to steal money (and our time.)  We need to keep reading posts like yours to remind us of what to look for. 

May 14, 2022 11:49 AM
Candice A. Donofrio

I get so sick of them and they are for many people indistinguishable from legit leads . . . but they do have 'tells' . . . as economy shifts about there will be more and more of these crooks coming in looking for a mark!

May 14, 2022 11:55 AM
Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can!
Red Rock Real Estate (435) 632-9374 - St. George, UT
St. George Utah Area Residential Sales Agent

Yep, these yay-holes continue to separate people from their money through scams. A title company's email here was breached (they use I will not use them as a result! More businesses need to be more proactive to protect their customers.

May 29, 2022 05:29 PM
Candice A. Donofrio

Wow. Title company using Gmail?

Everything with the title companies here are encrypted and secure, sometimes it's a PITA for some of our clients, especially those with government or military emails. But getting scammed is worse.

May 30, 2022 04:57 AM
Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP
Selling Homes Changing Lives

Candice A. Donofrio - these are great observations! With your fortune telling mentality and high intellect, it is easy for you to discern what is fake and what is real. Sadly, other agents may not be as keen and will adhere to your warnings before they get scammed. 

This is excellent information! Nobody I know wants to get scammed. Thank you for writing this article. It was very educational and helpful. 

Jun 06, 2022 05:26 AM
Candice A. Donofrio

You are very welcome. Anything to get rid of these idiots.

Jun 06, 2022 08:59 AM
Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP

Candice A. Donofrio - Scammers be gone!!! Not wanted!

Aug 12, 2022 02:15 AM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones


Great post and so true! These idiots  are always trying  to help you part with some of your money and would take it all if they could! If they just spent the same time on a legit business it might be amazing to see what they could make! I've gotten calls and emails but they were so obvious it was easy to ignore them!

Jun 10, 2022 09:08 AM
Jim Patton
Aspire Home Real Estate 209-404-0816 - Modesto, CA
Realtor - Stanislaus ,Merced, San Joaquin Counties

Hi Candice A. Donofrio unfortunately the scammers are not going away anytime soon.  They keep evolving with their schemes and there's always another one to take their place should they be caught.  We just have to be careful. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. 

Thanks for the Joe Walsh fix too!

Jun 10, 2022 11:01 AM