Hella M. Rothwell, Broker/Realtor®, Rothwell Realty Inc. CA#01968433 Carmel-by-the-Sea

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Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

It is easy to do too & is done in many facets of Real Estate. Fraud? Scams? I am reminded of the time I had a couple move into a vacant home scheduled to be demolished with the land to be developed into townhomes. They had decorated the wails, had furniture and the kicker? A signed lease by the owner. Their intent was to stay there for years until I could get them out or buy them out. They had all the answers too. The one answer he didn't have? I worked for the company that owned the property. This was my backyard. He refused to get out. I call the police. I already knew what police were going to tell me i.e., it is a civil action. I said look, we have plans to build hundreds of units and transform this neighborhood. Police says: we surely need it as it was a homeless area. I further stated we had the cooperation of the mayor on down (we did) I could arrange a phone call. Police looked at me, then the trespasser and says: We will be back this afternoon. Have all your stuff and you gone by then. They left!

Jan 28, 2023 12:39 PM
Alan May
Jameson Sotheby's International Realty - Evanston, IL
A moving experience!

While it might be prevalent right now, it's nothing new.  Back when I was a new agent, a colleague of mine listed an actual condo... she marketed it, she sold it, and arrived at the closing table, before the title company uncovered the fact that they were not the owners... they were the tenants.

It's because of this colleague's close-call, that I always check the county records to make certain that I'm dealing with the official owner of any property that I list.

Jan 28, 2023 02:08 PM
Debra Leisek
Bay Realty,Inc Homer Alaska - Homer, AK

This is happening up here in Alaska. We had 3 tries in our office in 1 week. We caught them all, but it is because we are a small community and we know so many of the owners.  So, they went to Realtors in Anchorage and Soldotna and listed them. We called those agents and let them know and they were deleted from MLS.

Also asking for ID doesn't solve the problem because they have fake ID's that look pretty darn convincing. 

We have a trooper working on this and can send them the ID's to verify which is nice. 

They also have fraudulent notaries.

This was happening in Hawaii too!

Jan 28, 2023 01:53 PM
Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP
Selling Homes Changing Lives

Hella M. Rothwell, Broker/Realtor® - yes, I have been warned and posted about a similar fraud scam a few weeks ago. It's a pity. We all need to raise awareness. 

Jan 28, 2023 02:08 PM
Shayne Stone
HomeSmart - Fulshear, TX
"Your Rock Solid Choice Realtor"

Guess it's time we start pulling background checks on owners and when meeting have owners bring two (2) forms of ID... Oh maybe we should start thinking about having a DNA test. LOL

Jan 28, 2023 02:45 PM
Diana Dahlberg
1 Month Realty - Pleasant Prairie, WI
Real Estate in Kenosha, WI since 1994 262-308-3563

That's horrible!  i had not heard about this before your Q&A.  I guess we will need to ask for proof of ownership (as well as their identification) ... sad that people have so much time to waste.  Of course, if it is working for them, I guess it will only get worse.  Thanks for the warning!  Hella M. Rothwell, Broker/Realtor® 

Jan 28, 2023 12:24 PM
Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

This scam has been around for years. Verify and reverify! If suspicious , a title company can be of assistance.

Jan 29, 2023 04:10 AM
Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets
Big Block Realty 858.232.8722 - La Jolla, CA
& Host of Postcards From Success Podcast

Thank you for the scam alert Hella M. Rothwell, Broker/Realtor® 
I think "well below market value" would send up some red flags in San Diego 😂

Jan 28, 2023 06:24 PM
Doug Dawes
Keller Williams Evolution - 447 Boston Street Topsfield, MA - Georgetown, MA
Your Personal Realtor®

First I've heard of it Hella M. Rothwell, Broker/Realtor® I'll check my MLS site today

Jan 28, 2023 11:18 AM
Bob Crane
Woodland Management Service / Woodland Real Estate, KW Diversified - Stevens Point, WI
Forestland Experts! 715-204-9671

Our broker warned us of this a few days ago, two of our agents were approached by this scammer.

Jan 28, 2023 10:43 PM
Debe Maxwell, CRS
Savvy + Company (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
The right Charlotte REALTOR!

I hadn't heard of this but, thank you for the heads-up, Hella!

Jan 28, 2023 10:41 PM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Hi Hella... I've heard of the scam and we had a warning in our brokerage. Don't remember seeing anything from the MLS, however.

Jan 28, 2023 11:46 AM
John Juarez
The Medford Real Estate Team - Fremont, CA

Our mls, which may share information with the mls of which Hella M. Rothwell, Broker/Realtor® is a member, posted a warning every time you logged on for a week or so a few weeks ago.

Jan 28, 2023 07:08 PM
Kathleen Daniels, Probate & Trust Specialist
KD Realty - 408.972.1822 - San Jose, CA
Probate Real Estate

Yes, I am aware. We share the same MLS. 

A deep dive into title and vetting needs to be a standard protocol for all agents.

Jan 29, 2023 08:09 AM
Jeff Pearl
RE/MAX Distinctive / LIC in VA - Lovettsville, VA
Full Service Full Time Realtor

Title search up front might help avoid this if there are any questions about ownership. I haven't seen our mls mention it, but they might have. I have heard of similar scams, but the title company was involved in the scam.

Jan 29, 2023 06:11 AM
Lyn Sims
Schaumburg, IL
Real Estate Broker Retired

Part of our job is to be sure the owners are who they say they are. If things don't match up - we should stop & start to verify.

Jan 29, 2023 06:02 AM
Don Baker
Lane Realty - Eatonton, GA
Lake Sinclair Specialist

How do they close?  The patriot act requires a photo ID at closing.  Another reason for buyers to have title insurance I guess.

Jan 29, 2023 12:11 PM
Michael J. Perry
KW Elite - Lancaster, PA
Lancaster, PA Relo Specialist

What is it they are attempting to do ? Are the just trying to create chaos or to steal some money 

Jan 29, 2023 09:50 AM
Carla Freund
Keller Williams Preferred Realty - Raleigh, NC
Carolina Life RealEstate & Relocation 919-602-8489

Yes, this happened to someone in my office. Fortunately it was caught.

Jan 29, 2023 08:33 AM
Chrissi Chapman Topoleski
Coldwell Banker Realty - Woodbridge, VA
Helping agents live an exceptional life!

We have been notified by our company attorneys of this scam! They'll try anything and everything, won't they?

Jan 29, 2023 01:03 PM
Anna Banana Kruchten Phoenix Broker
HomeSmart Real Estate - Phoenix, AZ

Yes it's not just on vacant land and I have been aware of title theft for quite some time.  A couple of attorneys  in town give presentations on this issue time to time.

Jan 29, 2023 11:59 AM
Jerry Lucas
ABC Legal Docs LLC - Colorado Springs, CO
Notary Training, Consulting. Colorado Springs, CO

As a vacant land owner, my name and address is shown on the deed and in the county tax records.  My signature is on the deed.

My land is actually owned by an LLC, which is registered with the SOS, and has its own website, email address, and my phone number.

The LLC management would need to pass a signed notarized Resolution to sell the land.

The LLC website would include a notice of the land for sale.

My website has strong 2FA security so a hacker cannot break in and change my website contact information to impersonate me.

My email account is protected by strong 2FA security so a hacker cannot break in and impersonate my email.

Cell phone numbers are less secure and subject to SIM swap attacks by hackers so are not reliable for identity verification.

Colorado also now has digital ID/DL cards that can be verified.

Use multiple forms of identification, mailing address, paycheck, utility bills, etc. to Know Your Customer (KYC).

You can send a mailing to the seller's home address that includes a random 6-digit number (one time passcode OTP). They must respond with the 6-digit number to confirm they received the mail.

Jan 29, 2023 09:11 AM
Will Hamm
Hamm Homes - Aurora, CO
"Where There's a Will, There's a Way!"

I hear about this scam in the last few days, to many scams out there


Jan 29, 2023 08:56 AM
Gary Frimann, CRS, GRI, SRES
Eagle Ridge Realty / Signature Homes & Estates - Gilroy, CA
REALTOR and Broker

My MLS did warn us (I use the same MLS as you) and I found it fascinating that there is this new scam out there.

Jan 29, 2023 08:46 AM
Adam Feinberg
Elegran - Manhattan, NY
NYC Condo, Co-op, and Townhouse Advisor

Manhattan doesn't have an MLS (surprising, I know, but it's been a contentious issue between the brokerages here). Vacant land is pretty rare- so if a lot comes up in a strong location- it's the talk of the town. I don't know if this would flush out the fraudster, but I would hope so. 

Feb 03, 2023 09:10 AM
Tony Lewis
Summit Real Estate Group - Valencia, CA
Summit Real Estate Group Valencia & Aliso Viejo

I would expect a Title Search would spot the fraud and Title Insurance would protect the buyer.  Any sale without Title Insurance is insane.

Feb 02, 2023 04:48 AM