Reports in SC and USA of real estate scams.
Vacant land (fake seller) listing and sale scam (typical parameters):
1. The Licensee gets a cold email from a distant seller wanting to list and sell vacant land.
2. The transaction is conducted via the internet.
3. The closing attorney wires proceeds to the fake seller.
4. TGTBT, red flags
Many times this scam might involve valuable resort land where the true owner is distant and neighbors are distant. So, an HOA compliant "for sale" sign might not immediately alert neighbors, HOA, or the true owner to a fake seller scam.
Potential risk management strategies:
Use safety and anti-scam due diligence on the seller.
Talk to any owners association (e.g., HOA, POA) and perhaps neighbors regarding the seller (e.g., contact information, stated plans) to help verify the seller.
Pay for forms vendor public database questions that must be seller answered before seller can e-sign.
Consider using a reliable background check service.
Alert closing attorneys that you have never met the distant seller and have no connections to the seller other than the cold email.
Any other risk management strategies that you have used in the past? Please call the hotline!
Regarding these potential risk management strategies:
Several standard forms vendors offer a "pay to use" feature where the email recipient must answer several public database questions to help ensure proper identification before e-signing the e-document (e.g., listing agreement, contract).
"Which of these three streets did you never live upon?
A. Oak Street
B. Western Avenue
C. Atlantic Circle
D. None, I have lived on all these streets"
Alert the closing attorneys/escrow that you have not met the seller before and all the transaction’s communications have been performed across distance (e.g., email, internet).
There are some reliable background check companies that can help to verify the seller’s true identity and contact information.
Many of these scam con artists are very smooth and sophisticated and are part of billion dollar international organized crime rings.
Report to law enforcement.
Report to FBI www.ic3.gov
Watch for red flags.
Keep your brokerage and team leader in the know asap.
Posted by: Byron King on 11/03/22 (This information is only accurate as of 11/03/22. You must contact SCR for updates and changes to this information after 11/03/22 as laws and regulations may change over time. SCR 803-772-5206 or email info at screaltors.org or email byron at screaltors.org)
This information is not legal advice. This information is intended only to provide general information and may not be relied upon as specific legal guidance. Legal counsel should always be consulted before acting in reliance on this information.