Common real estate fraud & scams to know

by JEFF CASHMORE 09/17/2023

Real estate transactions involve large amounts of money changing hands, which makes real estate frauds and scams unfortunately common. Rental scams, mortgage fraud, deed fraud and flipping scams are all examples of real estate scams to be aware of.

Whether you're buying, selling or moving, here are some common real estate scams to know:

Real estate escrow wire fraud scams

One common real estate scam involves somebody posing as a fake title or escrow company. They give you instructions to wire transfer funds into your escrow account, using spoofing tactics to mimic phone numbers and other contact info.

Before you send money to a third party, contact your lender directly using the information on the documents they gave you. Verify their instructions for escrow funds to easily avoid having your money stolen by scammers.

Unsolicited buyers wanting off-market sales

Another major red flag to be aware of is unsolicited communication requesting information about your home or an all-cash offering. While cash buyers can be legitimate, some cash buyers can be sinister attempts to take advantage of a homeowner facing foreclosure.

Also called a foreclosure relief scam, this nefarious scheme offers a "too good to be true" cash buy-out option to get relief on past due mortgage payments. If you're unsure, it's much safer to contact your lender and inquire about any programs they might offer to help you.

Forged deeds

Suppose you put up your home on the market, find your buyer, close the sale and discover another person has made claims against your property through a silent claim or a forgery. Often, this scam involves people giving a notary a counterfeit deed of property that is then considered in a county court.

A fraudulent deed might contain more than one false details including names, often claiming to be the real owner's personal representative.

Working with a real estate agent can help you in any real estate transaction, and also gives you valuable access to an expert opinion. If you're ever uncertain about an offer or situation in real estate, getting info from your agent is a good place to start.

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