Total financial loss in 2020: $213,196,082
Total United States victims in 2020: 13,638
Yes, you're reading those numbers right. Over $213 million lost to real estate scams in 2020 alone with over 13,500 victims. What type of real estate scams are the most prevalent?
Loan flipping: it's a predatory practice that happens when a lender
convinces a homeowner to repeatedly refinance their mortgage, accruing high
fees and points with each refinance.
Escrow wire fraud: where scammers, many times in other countries, infiltrate a legitimate real estate transaction and cause monies to be wired to accounts they control as if they are the closing company when, in fact, they aren't. Victims have reported that everything looks real, has the right names, numbers, addresses, etc, yet the account number for the wire transfer has been changed. Most victims never receive the lost funds back so this is one everyone should be aware of.
SerRental scams: in this scam the conman places a rental listing on various real estate rental websites and takes a deposit for either a vacation or long-term rental for housing. There's been many cases where the renter shows up thinking they have this nice place to stay, only to learn that the occupants/owners have no idea what they are talking about.
Moving scams: moving scams are also classified as real estate scams and they take many forms. We've seen so-called moving companies hold a truckload of household goods hostage for additional payments over and above what their "estimate" was. Make sure you use a well-known, stable company with a track record whenever moving from point A to B, even if it may cost you a little more than the ad on Craiglist you saw.
Homebuyers and real estate agents should be especially diligent. Keep
personal information secure, use licensed lenders and realtors for all
transactions, never pay upfront fees for home services, and educate yourself
on how to spot a scam. Be aware of anyone pressuring you to make quick
decisions, and be wary of improper documentation and requests for wire
transfers of large sums of money.
Never resist the temptation to not follow up when you have a funny feeling about something or when any large sums of money are involved. Check and double-check and get on the phone to verify everything or, better yet, go in person to make sure you don't become the victim of one of these real estate scams.
EXCALIBUR Private Investigation
Serving all of Colorado and beyond