According to Savills World Research, the value of the world’s real estate reached US$280.6 trillion at the end of 2017. With such a vast store of wealth in the market, it is no surprise that criminals are scheming to capture some of it for themselves. Here are a few of the techniques that wrongdoers will use to defraud people of their money.
Payments by Email
A hacker infiltrates an email account belonging to a real estate professional and monitors his or her correspondence until a closing date is set. Using the compromised address, the hacker reaches out to the buyer and offers an account for the wire transfer.
Brokers and real estate lawyers are frequently on the move, and they often use public Wi-Fi. The behavior makes either professional a perfect target for this type of scam.
A legitimate real estate company advertises a rental. A scammer copies the listing and posts it on a classifieds site at a lower price. It is not done to undercut the broker; instead, it is done to attract a wire transfer from someone desperate for a roof over his or her head. The would-be tenant then arrives at the property to find that the landlord has no idea about the setup.
The Unlicensed Realtor
An individual posing as a licensed realtor takes a client through the entire purchase process until it is time to close. Then, when the check is written for escrow, the poseur takes it and deposits it in one of his or her accounts before vanishing into thin air.
One can expect warning signs. However, it is tough to imagine being robbed blind by someone with whom you have had a face-to-face relationship.
How to Stay Safe
When there is money involved, it is best to trust no one. Fortunately, this can be achieved with tools like Propy, a real estate platform that leverages blockchain technology to allow parties to purchase and sell properties without trusting or even knowing each other. It is accomplished via self-executing smart contracts that not only simplify transactions but also remove the element of risk in dealing with new faces.