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Land Fraud, Here is How I Handle Inquiries

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Reputable Realty # 01804752

Land fraud is on the rise. Whatever the game is to get the deposit or to actually sell the land and collect the money. We know it’s out there and if it hasn’t come to your neighborhood yet beware it’s coming soon.

I’ve gotten two inquiries this week And sure enough flags on the play. Red flags everywhere. So the first one sounded legit and we started going down the road. They were trying to sell a piece of land in one of my market areas and the legitimate owners lived in my other market area so I offered to go to their home or to meet them somewhere near their home to sign the papers. Oh no, we can’t do that. I happen to be in Dubai on business blah blah blah. OK I called a Title rep and had a discussion with them and another agent in town had the exact same inquiry and had called that same title rep. so we knew that they were not legit. I did write a letter to the landowner. I haven’t heard back from them, but I let them know that they needed to call the sheriffs department where the land was and let them know that people were attempting to fraud them out of their land.

I get another inquiry less sophisticated same week. So we respond back and I said we are happy to list your land. We need to know a little bit more about it. We need the APN number and I will need you to fill out the attached statement of identification in order to, make sure that we can have a speedy escrow and no title issues. Please complete that form and send it back to me and we can proceed. End of communication.

So what can you do as a landowner to protect yourself. Make sure that you do a google alerts. Put in your property addresses put in your APN numbers. if anything pops up on the Internet with those identifying markers you will get an email from Google. Be safe out there.



Michael J. Perry
KW Elite - Lancaster, PA
Lancaster, PA Relo Specialist

I have a Developer who has had two lots ( one in NJ and the other in PA) wind up for sale on Zillow and one was also in the MLS . We were able to scare the con artist away , but they had AOS ready to be signed from other agents . One even had a phony Photo Drivers license that was totally correct except the photo 

Apr 17, 2024 12:18 PM

If people would only use their gifts for good instead of evil.

Apr 17, 2024 04:43 PM
Ed Silva, 203-206-0754
Mapleridge Realty, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

Interesting, We don't have a lot of vacant and in our area so the scammers need to try another avenue.

Apr 17, 2024 02:28 PM

Hopefully they just stay away.

Apr 18, 2024 07:55 PM
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Karen, we got an email from our commission this week stating land fraud is definitely on the rise.   I have been letting my clients know to put an alert on their deed.

Apr 17, 2024 02:50 PM
Leanne Smith

I just read an article confirming wire fraud and title fraud continue to increase quarter over quarter.

Apr 18, 2024 11:00 AM
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

How appropriate, I had one of my clients land listed with a well known brokerage's agent and guess what they were fake... my client wanted to prosecute the 'fake listing' I tried to tell him not much luck with that since cops in Los Angeles do not even focus on murder etc.  we shall see where it goes..Endre

Apr 17, 2024 09:40 PM
Leanne Smith

How sad about the lack of police protection due to administrative policies and funding.

Apr 18, 2024 11:01 AM

San Bernardino County has it's own unit to handle such things.

Apr 18, 2024 07:54 PM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Hi Karen... these days it seems we need to be hyper-vigilant about everything. You are certainly on the ball and I'm sure land owners in your area are appreciative when you provide them information.

Apr 18, 2024 04:37 AM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Pasadena And Southern California 818.516.4393

Hello Karen - the world of real estate is quite large in many ways.  However, it can actually seem smaller as your post shows.   Local connections continue to make sense out of the chaos.  

Apr 18, 2024 04:53 AM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good morning Karen,

We are seeing the same thing in Austin. Several agents in our office have received calls to list land and the red flags shot up everywhere. We have to be super viligent with all the fraudsters out there!

Apr 18, 2024 07:11 AM
Ginger Harper
Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage~ Ginger Harper Real Estate Team - Southport, NC
Your Southport~Oak Island Agent~Brunswick County!

Your experience and what you shared is so valuable to all of us. THANK YOU!


Apr 18, 2024 07:22 AM
Mark Don McInnes, Sandpoint-Idaho
Sandpoint Realty LLC - Sandpoint, ID
North Idaho Real Estate - 208-255.6227

Good morning Karen.  We had a rise in fraud attempts here as well earlier in the year.  They seem to have ebbed a bit.  Everyone in our MLS was very good about putting out alerts when something/someone suspicious out and about.  M

Apr 18, 2024 07:48 AM
Matthew Sturkie, CRS, GRI 909-969-3805
Action Realty - Apple Valley, CA
CRS, GRI 909-969-3805

Hi Karen, Great post!. The SI form is a great idea that I will use. These scammers will keep trying until they get an agent that will fall for it.  

Apr 18, 2024 09:18 AM
Leanne Smith
Dirt Road Real Estate - Golden Valley, AZ
The Grit and Gratitude Agent

Funny thing when one asks for a copy of a driver's license, the sales lead suddenly goes dark.  Good catches on your part.

Apr 18, 2024 10:29 AM

I've heard of people sending in a DL with the wrong pic!  The scammers are getting braizen. 

Apr 18, 2024 07:52 PM
Kat Palmiotti
eXp Commercial, Referral Divison - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

Thank you for sharing your experience. Unfortunately, vigilance against scams is a must!

Apr 18, 2024 02:31 PM
Buzz Mackintosh
Mackintosh REALTORS - Frederick, MD
“Experience, reliable, leadership”

I recently had a title company call me that they received a contract for one of my listings. It looked fishy and the attorney looked the listing up saw it was active and called me. He indicated they are getting quite a few fake contracts in lately.

Apr 19, 2024 03:46 AM
Silvia Dukes PA, Broker Associate, CRS, CIPS, SRES
Tropic Shores Realty - Ich spreche Deutsch! - Spring Hill, FL
Florida Waterfront and Country Club Living

I inform sellers who I have not met personally that the listing agreement will be mailed to the owner address of record in order to ascertain identity and legitimacy.  If the true owner is scammed, this will bring it to light quickly. 

Apr 19, 2024 06:24 AM

I like it! 

Apr 21, 2024 07:24 AM
Sam Shueh
(408) 425-1601 - San Jose, CA
mba, cdpe, reopro, pe

A lot of scammers ... Good agent responds to real ones.  On eMail I may return but if there is not even a contact # bye bye.

Apr 19, 2024 09:35 AM
Mike McCann Nebraska Land Broker
Mike McCann - Broker, Mach1 Realty Farm & Commercial Land Broker-Auctioneer Serving Nebraska - Kearney, NE
Farm & Commercial Property For Sale 308-627-3700

Had a call the other day about a Storage Unit facility I have listed.  However the caller, who I know well, said the city name on the internet ad was yyy while the actual location was xxx.  I told him it was xxx and he said "dang....I was hoping it was correct."  I asked him if he could send me the link or take a photo...and he said he could not find it after he talked with me.  

Apr 19, 2024 11:31 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Karen:

Being vigilant, and perhaps suspicious, and verifying information is essential and becoming more and more important these days.


Apr 19, 2024 11:50 AM

I had no idea that I would turn into a suspicious detective when I got a real estate license.  I came in pretty doe eyed. 

Apr 21, 2024 07:29 AM
Debra Leisek
Bay Realty,Inc Homer Alaska - Homer, AK

we have had the scammers up here too!  One even had a driver's license with his picture on it! It was pretty well done, but we knew it wasn't the owner of the land. Our troopers did get involved and we have been turning all scammers over to them! 

Apr 21, 2024 02:06 AM
Michael Elliott
Fathom Realty - Burlington Township, NJ
Burlington, New Jersey Residential Sales

Wow, this has become the day and age of scammers.   Repulsive, and they have zero shame when called out on it.   Thanks for the post.

Apr 22, 2024 03:59 AM
Karen Martin Real estate agent Safe Harbor Realty
Safe Harbor Realty - Westport, MA
Westport, MA Realtor Helping Home Sellers & Buyers

Thank you  Your post caught my eye  since we listed land and found out, luckly within a few days,  it was a scam  They had a fake email ( similar to the owners name ) and even had a fake drivers license!  Tell tale was when we got him on the phone, the owners name was a certain nationality and the person on the phone definately wasn't .   

Apr 28, 2024 03:10 PM