Beware Fake Seller or Fake Buyer Scam

Beware Fake Seller or Fake Buyer Scam – Real estate fraud is one of the fastest-growing scams across the country, In recent years, the FBI reports a 42% increase in the number of real estate crimes as scammers specifically target home sellers and buyers.

The Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation is making people aware of some incidents in states involving fraudulent sellers and buyers attempting to sell a property they don’t own. The scam commonly targets unencumbered and vacant lots owned by persons out of state.

Here are some “red flags” to look out for:

The buyer/seller is traveling on vacation (sometimes abroad), claims they cannot meet in person, and must do everything by email.

The seller has a family emergency, needs a quick cash sale, and will accept substantially less than full price if they can close in a very short time.

The email address or phone numbers are from another country. Of course, there are legitimate buyers and sellers who live overseas, but this does raise a flag that should be checked.

The photo IDs, such as drivers’ licenses or passports, are barely legible.

The seller does not require an Earnest Money Deposit, or a low Earnest Money Deposit combined with a quick closing (in order to obtain quick proceeds before a scam is discovered).

The buyer/seller makes constant excuses, is not able to perform the terms of the contract or is not returning paperwork.

The buyer/seller gets very angry as the transaction gets closer to closing and applies pressure on the other party to make sure the deal goes through. Sometimes they offer an incentive such as commission bonuses or promising other opportunities to buy or sell.

If you have questions or suspect you have been approached by a fake seller or fake buyer,

please report it to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at

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