Real estate fraud comes in many forms. There are many ways for a scammer to separate you from your funds, from rental scams to title fraud. Once you’ve fallen for a real estate scam, it can be very difficult to get your money back. Prevention is far better than cure when it comes to real estate fraud. Read on to find out some of the most common tricks and how you can avoid falling for them.
There are many types of rental scams out there. Typically, an individual or organization will claim to be renting a property they don’t own. They will ask for a “viewing fee” to look at the property, or want a big deposit up-front before you can move in. Once you’ve given them your money, you’ll discover that the property was never theirs to rent.
You can protect yourself by renting through reputable property companies.
Escrow Wire Fraud
This is one of the most common types of real estate fraud. It typically starts with a phone call, email, or text, ostensibly from an escrow or title company, often one that the target is already doing business with. These calls and messages originate with scammers. Targets are tricked into wiring money to the fake escrow company. The funds are then withdrawn and transferred to an offshore account, making it hard to recover your money even when you realize that you’ve been scammed.
Today’s fraudsters are very adept at setting up fake websites and phone numbers, so it looks as if you’re interacting with a real company. If you look closely at the email, URL, or phone number, it may be wrong — off by a digit or a letter. These differences can be hard to spot. Consult genuine documents to confirm contact details and access websites by carefully typing the URL into your browser. Before making any transfers, check with the escrow company to confirm any details.
Real Estate Investment Seminar Scams
Real estate investment can be an exciting opportunity. If you’re looking to expand your investment portfolio, you may have been tempted by seminars that promise to help you get started in real estate. These seminars, unfortunately, are often scams. Targets pay a large sum to attend — usually upwards of $1,000 dollars. These events don’t provide you with useful instruction. They are used to sell further training, which is even more expensive. Many people end up paying tens of thousands of dollars, far more than they’ll clear in future real estate transactions.
The best way to avoid this type of scam is to keep in mind this adage: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Take your time and don’t rush into anything. Ask to read the one-page disclosure document that they are legally obliged to provide. If it looks like a scam, you can report the company to the Federal Trade Commission.
Deeds and titles can be forged or subjected to fraud in other ways. Someone may pose as a seller (grantor) or their representative, possibly working with an unscrupulous notary. Scammers may also obtain access to deeds by presenting themselves as a property owner or through theft.
You can protect yourself through title searches and title insurance. Verifying that the deed is valid is an integral part of any real estate transaction.
As domestic and commercial real estate scams become more common, more and more people fall victim to them. Your best hope of recovering your money is to enlist the services of an experienced real estate fraud attorney. At Graves Thomas Rotunda Injury Law Group, we have the experience and knowledge to help you recover your funds from real estate frauds and scammers. If you’ve been a victim of real estate fraud in Florida, contact us today.