Unfortunately, the world of real estate is not exempt from scammers. It’s absolutely imperative to become familiar with real estate hoaxes to ensure you don’t fall victim to their ploys!
Please use extreme caution if you are contacted by an individual and it sounds completely bogus. Listed below are two examples of known real estate scams.
TIMESHARE MARKETING SCAM
Timeshare owners are being contacted by fake companies who promise to sell or rent the victims’ timeshares. Typically, the owner receives an unexpected or unsolicited phone call or e-mail from someone posing as a sales representative for a timeshare resale company. The individual promises a quick sale by using high-pressure sales tactics to add a sense of urgency to their deal. Some victims have stated the “sales representative” pressured them with claims that a buyer was on their other line or present in their office.
Owners who agree to sell their timeshare are told they must pay a fee upfront to cover listing fees, advertising, and closing costs. Many victims have provided credit cards to pay for the fees and have ranged from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Once the fee is paid, owners have reported that calls go unanswered, numbers are disconnected, and websites no longer exist.
In some instances, owners have even subsequently been contacted by a fake timeshare fraud recovery company. This representative promises to assist in the recovery of money lost in the previous sales scam.
If you happen to be contacted by someone who offers to sell or rent your time share, be very wary if asked for up-front fees. Read the fine print on any sales contract or rental agreement, and confirm the company is reputable by contacting the Better Business Bureau.
Property owners who have rental property advertised online have been contacted by someone claiming they are an interested party. Once a rental price is agreed upon, the “interested party” sends a check for the deposit. The check is often written for an amount over the amount required and then they ask for the remainder to be sent back to them. In other cases, the check is written for the correct amount, but the interested party backs out of the agreement and requests a refund. In instances where the bank does not place a hold on the funds, the property owner has immediate access to the funds and believes the check has cleared. Unfortunately, the check is found to be counterfeit and the property owner is held responsible by the bank for the loss.
A different type of scam involving rental properties occurs when the scammer posts an advertisement for an available rental property. The scammer duplicates a posting from a real ad and alters it. They even go as far as creating an e-mail address with the broker’s real name to appear more legitimate. When an interested renter contacts the scammer by e-mail, they receive a response from “the owner” that states he and his wife are currently doing missionary work in another country. The “owner” indicates they need someone to rent their property while they are away and request the funds to be sent to them in the foreign country.
Those are just two examples of the hundreds out there. The links provided below contain a list of known scams related to each topic, as outlined by usa.gov.
REMEMBER! It’s always important to check out any activity that seems suspicious to you.
Here are a few ways you can protect yourself:
1. Call the company directly to determine if an e-mail is trustworthy. Do not use contact information provided on a website connected a request.
2. Do not reply to unsolicited e-mails even if the sender threatens to disable an account.
3. Never reveal personal or financial information through e-mail.
4. Report any suspected scams to the federal government.
5. If it seems too good to be true… it probably is!