Welcome to the RealTown Real Estate Network!
Member Login | Join RealTown
The Real Estate Network
Page 1 of 2Previous Page | Next Page

SCAM Alert Targets Real Estate Agents!

Licensed Real Estate Agent

Sarasota, FL

June 24, 2010

This scam apparently targets real estate agents (mostly) off Trulia - and most of you probably spend time on Trulia.

In the last 7 days, I have heard from real estate & closing agents (including real estate attorneys) throughout the US.

They too got caught up in this SCAM.

  • To my horror and sadness, I heard reports of closing agents NOT clearing funds before refunding FAKE certified funds.
  • I heard of SELLERS moving out and/or putting money into a property they "thought" they were selling.
  • I also heard from realtors who admitted fronting money to pay for inspections, etc when the scammers promised compensation.

For more details and see exact language and images of certified check, etc. click real estate scam for the rest of this horrible scam.

Here's what you need to know now:

• Scammers mention Trulia in the initial email to them asking for help in buying a property. In my case, there was no mention of Trulia, though I have a Trulia account.
• Scammers use this phone number: 1-416-824-1768
• Scammers use these email addresses: edbrown@lawyer.com& seiichiro@asia.com
• Scammers ask for listings of 4 bedroom, 2 bath properties to be provided in $400,000-$500,000 price range.
• Scammers provide bank statement with $3.4MM, drawn off CIBC Bank in Canada as proof of funds.
• Scammers ask for closing agent's full contact information in order to provide $155,000 earnest money deposit in certified funds. If agent requests wire instead of cashier's, scammer indicates "Mr. Matsubayashi" temporarily is out of Canada and not able to execute a wire through his appointed law firm, Cassells Brock.
• Scammers request quick close with REALTOR paying out of pocket for required inspections - to be reimbursed later (of course).

Fortunately, I pulled out my old files to confirm previous customer's "correct" name...not this "Mr. M."

Listing agent, sellers and I were inconvenienced, but no one lost money.

Please warn your colleagues of this scam hitting many parts of the US. At first I though only RE agents in distressed markets would face this type of scam. Not so.

I have heard from realtors in many different states. In fact, in Florida many closing agents have confirmed they now REQUIRE all wired funds - no cashier's checks at all. They refuse to open a file until (initial) earnest money is wired in

Hope this helps you,

Mike Payne

Sarasota Foreclosures

New York, NY

June 24, 2010

Hi Mike!

Thanks for sharing this here and on Trulia. We take this very seriously and have actually just posted a blog today on how to spot these phishing scams.

See here.

If anyone has received any type of scam/spam email via there Trulia profiles, please forward them to me so we can address them

Thanks!

Rudy from Trulia

Licensed Real Estate Agent

South Hill, VA

June 25, 2010

Mike Payne thanks for sharing this SCAM Alert for Agents to beware of . Almost the exact same thing happen to me here in Virginia several Months ago . I have done my best to spread the word to as many Agents as I could as well . No one lost any money(which was a good thing) and My Seller Client had just gone through a divorce so no extra stress was needed to say the least . The fake Buyer's name was Ming Xing with a asia.com email address and I recieved a $100k fake deposit from Cassells Brock as well . Please, Agents pass this info on and I hope and Pray that something will be done and these Scam Artist will be bought to Justice !

Licensed Real Estate Agent

Sarasota, FL

June 25, 2010

That's great, Rudy. Unfortunately, real estate agents, closing agents, home sellers and buyers *might* appreciate details re: each scam.

Why?

  • (Some) buyers really do buy sight unseen - and this seems too good to be true.
  • (Some) buyers really do provide bank statements with $3.4MM as proof of funds for cash buys.
  • Some buyers really do assign assistants to handle back and forth with paperwork.

Therefore, Trulia and RealTown *should* post detailed warnings as I did exposing known aliases, phone numbers, email addresses, MO, etc.

As reported, real estate agents, closing agents & house sellers have LOST money to this growing "phishing" scam.

I was happy to put all this together and I know how to get wide distribution on the Internet...so I'm trying to help others avoid LOSS.

Trulia's generic PSA easily will be passed over by Trulia's visitors/members as common sense, when this scam targets "common" and "sense."

Just my $.02, Rudy.

Mike

Sarasota Foreclosures - Sarasota Homes For Sale

Licensed Real Estate Agent

Eden, UT

June 25, 2010

I also received an email which mentioned Trulia. I was very cautious from the beginning but like Mike said, sometimes people do buy sight unseen, etc. My broker was in the loop and we decided to play it out. We got the signed offer and I told Mr. Inoueye that we could not present the offer until we had the Earnest money of $2500. Sure enough I received a check for $150,000. My broker took it to the bank where our trust account is and they started the investigation and verified it was a scam. The Canada factor was in there as well. Andrew St. Claire is the Canada connection.

I never presented the offer because I did not want to waste the time of the sellers or their agent. 2 weeks later I received another email supposedly from Japan with the same request/scenario. Both email extentions were .asia. The most important thing is that if anyone gets caught up in this do not deposit the earnest money check. If you do, they will probably ask you to send them the balance after you take out the earnest money amount in the contract and then stop payment on the check they sent you. Also they will have your info on your trust accounts.

When I was in the process of this I did post on this forum and did get some good input from a couple of agents who had something like this happen to them.

Rudy from Trulia if you are on here and want any info let me know. Is there any way they can be caught and prosecuted?

Montreal

June 26, 2010

I would like to hear from anybody else their "scam" storys. I received a potential buyer from China as yahoo.jp address. He did send me a copy of his passport. I am in Canada and when I explained we do not use lawyers but notaries he just seemed to vanish. He was going to

buy using pictures only, and even waived the inspection. He did send a copy of a passport that looked very very legitimate.

Was this a scam? We verify checks so how do they think they will get away with it?

Thanks

Licensed Real Estate Broker

Carlsbad, CA

June 26, 2010

@yahoo.jp is a Japanese email address but the individual could be in China for business. More than a passport, you want to know where is the money. In international sales you want to make sure that the money is ASAP in the currency of the country where one is going to buy the real estate otherwise there can be too many uncertainties

Licensed Real Estate Broker

Carlsbad, CA

June 26, 2010

Thanks Mike for posting the warning. I have never heard of this before in San Diego, CA. Here the typical scams seem to come from craiglist.org and it involves most rental homes where the deposit sent is in the form of a cashier check larger that the amount required, the seller or the agent are asked to send back the difference. Needless to say the cashier checks are bogus.

Licensed Real Estate Agent

Sarasota, FL

June 27, 2010

Thank you, Daniela.

Whether or not a lead is legitimate comes down to $MONEY$.

In Florida, a new de facto policy (according to many agents and escrow agents) quickly is becoming the ad hoc litmus test:

Wire your EMD to prove you're legitimate!

Certified funds no longer will be enough to open a file or present an offer. To all prospective buyers I carefully will explain why. I might actually lose some business.

Together, we have to try to put scammers out of business.

Unfortunately, Trulia's WEAK public service "announcement" regarding this particular scam does not provide enough warning to realtors, sellers & buyers. When realtors, closing agents and/or sellers/buyers report a scam to these "big board" sites such as Real Town, Zillow & Trulia (and they independently verify the scam), these sites should issue a DETAILED warning, not some weak-ass psa. In this case, many, many agents contacting me confirmed the email they received specifically named Trulia as the site from which scammers found them.

These sites have a RESPONSIBILITY to the people who visit their sites. They're more than thrilled to allow US to build up their sites, but then they don't responsibly protect people when it's EASY to issue detailed warnings.

Mike


Sarasota Homes For Sale

Licensed Real Estate Broker

Carlsbad, CA

June 27, 2010

Unfortunately someone must be falling for this scams otherwise the con artists would have moved on to another scam.

By the way, a long lost relative just left me a $5, 000,000 inheritance that is sitting in an African bank.......I better rush to cash in.......

Reply to Discussion

Please log in to post a reply to this discussion.
Page 1 of 2Previous Page | Next Page