WARNING: This Real Estate Scam Costs Buyers A FORTUNE
There is a relatively new real estate scam that is targeting home buyers, and it is highly effective against people who have not been warned.
This con has occurred in Tallahassee several times over the past six months, and I suspect in most other markets too.
How The Scam Works
Real estate agents have to coordinate a host of vendors and third-party providers in order to close on the sale of a home.
Often times, we communicate wiring instructions to buyers so that they can either make a earnest money deposit or completely fund a property (for those that are not financing the home).
What the "scammers" are doing is hacking real estate agents' email accounts. They are investing the time to find communications with buyers and then are sending them bogus wiring instructions.
Picture this. You find your dream home and work-up an offer with your trusted real estate agent. When your agent goes to present the offer to the seller, you head home to your computer. Your agent has told you she would send you wiring instructions for your deposit and sure enough, there they are in your email inbox.
You proceed to wire $10,000 to secure your offer.
You call your agent and let her know you've wired the money, and she says "great." But when she checks with the escrow company, they report that no wire has been received.
Unfortunately, you have secured nothing.
Your $10,000 is now in China and you won't get it back.
How To Beat The Scam
If you are planning on buying a home, you can ensure that you don't fall prey to this scam by doing one simple thing.
ALWAYS CONFIRM WIRING INSTRUCTIONS BY PHONE
Any time you receive wiring instructions, always take the time to call the person who sent you the instructions and verify it was indeed them who sent you the information. If possible, skip wiring the money and use a certified check.
Sometimes, when time is of the essence, you'll truly need to wire money. Just make sure you avoid the scam.