Is it Fraud? REALTORS® Beware!!!

By
Real Estate Broker/Owner with MyLethbridgeRealty.com

I recently was working on a listing for a nice young couple from my former hometown. They had asked me if I would list their property after they had tried for several months to sell it privately. The catch was, they first wanted to wait to see if a private deal they had secured would come to fruition. They were waiting for a cheque in the mail from a man from overseas who had expressed interest in their property and had promised to send a "deposit". Well, the day that we (my partner in real estate) and I were to go list, they got that cheque in the mail. They canceled our listing appointment, but still wanted us to do the paperwork for the transaction.

After several questions about the private deal, we learned that:

RED FLAG #1: the man had sent a very large cheque which he wanted the young couple to cash and then send back half of so that his "financier" and his "investment partner"could fly to Canada and view the property first hand.

RED FLAG#2. The man claimed that he was from England, yet the postmark was from a different country.

RED FLAG#3. The cheque looked legitimate they said, but was missing a return address and the man had provided no contact information for himself.

After gently insisting to the unknowing couple that they were possibly in the middle of a money laundering scheme and providing them contact information for Phonebusters, they decided that they would go with another REALTOR®.

Disappointing??? Not in the least. I would much prefer to work with clients who trust that I am a professional and give credit to the high standards that a REALTOR® must adhere to (which now in Canada includes being aware of and reporting possible suspicious transactions, among our many other roles).

Do I hope they cash that cheque?? Of course not. It is devastating to be a victim of fraud and I would not wish that upon anyone. Do I hope they will report it and find out for themselves or check online to see that it may be an integration technique of money laundering? Absolutely!

As REALTORS®, our role in the real estate transaction seems to be growing daily. We must be aware of financing options, property structures and condition, techniques to determine market analysis, market trends, changes in zoning and future developments, the state of the economy and now money laundering techniques too??? There shouldn't be a professional REALTOR® out there who can't justify the commission they charge... we are the multitasking bargain of the day if you ask me!


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Rainmaker
808,936
Anthony Stokes-Pereira
Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty - Nanuet, NY
Realtor

Hi Liz;

Great job.. you did the right thing and I wish you well.

Anthony

Jul 16, 2008 02:34 PM #1
Rainer
13,183
K. Davis
Davis Enterprises - Sarasota, FL

Oh lord... scam, scam, scam! The most basic of schemes. By the time they cash the check and the banks process it, they will find the check (or cashiers check or money order) are fraudulent. Then they will be out the money they sent the con artist back and their own bank fees for the amount. Bad bad.

Hold your head high as a real estate professional.

Avoid these types of sideways scams. Anything too good to be true usually is [not true in the end].

 

 

Jul 16, 2008 02:36 PM #2
Rainer
25,795
Sandy Gleason
North Pointe Realty - Buhl, ID
Realtor for Southern Idaho-Magic Valley

We had that happen in our retail business a few years ago. They wanted to purchase a large

amount of Bibles, they sent the check but we took it to the bank and they informed us

of the fraud. It is scary because they really make it look real. The funds  were there but

they can default on the funds within so many days and that is how they get you.

 

 

Jul 16, 2008 02:39 PM #3
Rainmaker
1,478,296
Donna Harris
Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - TexasRealEstateMediationServices.com - Austin, TX
Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator

Don't these people watch Judge Judy?  She's had a lot of cases lately where people have sued others for paying back loans with bad checks because the money they deposited in their accounts from a check was not valid, and the people don't think they're responsible because how did they know the check wasn't good.  Anyone with 10% of a brain knows about these scams, unless they've been living in a hole.

Jul 16, 2008 02:40 PM #4
Rainer
24,314
Liz Toles
MyLethbridgeRealty.com - Lethbridge, AB
Lethbridge Real Estate

Anthony: It was a no-brainer to walk away... I just hope they get their heads on straight! Thanks for the encouragement!

Kae: TGTBT - Too good to be true, you are so right!

Sandy: Glad your bank caught it... good on them. Lot's don't bother to check and especially in a small town.

Donna: Haha... Judge Judy.. I love it! I don't think she's as popular here as she is there, but apparently we should start watching a little more of her!

 

Jul 16, 2008 02:50 PM #5
Rainer
132,419
Jon Wnoroski
America's 1st Choice RH Realty Co., Inc. - Green, OH
Summit County Realtor

Beware of any email communication suggesting such a scam.  I've gotten a number of those... each with a slightly different twist.. but the overall theme is the same.  Hit the SPAM button on those emails without opening them. 

Jul 16, 2008 03:08 PM #6
Rainer
21,227
Jeff Thornton
Jeff Thornton ABR CRB CRS CSP e-Pro GRI - Lansing, MI
ABR CRB CRS CSP e-Pro GRI

I would like the follow up.  that time when they find out you were helping them and they realized they should have listed with you.

Jul 18, 2008 11:01 PM #7
Rainer
24,314
Liz Toles
MyLethbridgeRealty.com - Lethbridge, AB
Lethbridge Real Estate

Jon: I receive a few of those a week as well, so I guess maybe I am just desensitized to it by now! Why just this morning I was notified that I have 1,500,000 pounds waiting for me from a contest I didn't even enter! Frustrating, but probably the price we pay for having such public contact information as REALTORS!

Jeff: I will try to keep up on how it turns out and will do follow up if there's anything to report. Thanks for your comment!

Jul 19, 2008 01:18 AM #8
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Rainer
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Liz Toles

Lethbridge Real Estate
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