Scams that target home buyers have seen an alarming rise in recent years. The scam methods are not new, but criminals have realized the potential to make a lot of money quickly by targeting real estate transactions. The terrible truth is that it’s not that difficult to pull off. Afterward, new home buyers may never see their money–or their new home–ever again. If you’re in the market for a new custom home, familiarize yourself with the latest scams targeting new home buyers.
Stealing Your Down Payment
Some scammers intercept communications between the real estate agent, the title company, and the home buyer. Once aware of those communications, they wait and intercede right at the last moment. Then they can divert the funds meant as a down payment into their own accounts.
Real Estate Email Scams
Where did these con artists find a means to leech onto real estate transactions? The same place lots of other scams occur; via email. With real estate sales information readily available online, it isn’t that difficult to target a realtor or title company. Once the thief has hacked the proper target, often a realtor, they lay in wait. Then they act in the final moments of the home sale. When the money is due, they tell the home buyer that a last minute change has occurred and they need to send their payment elsewhere. Just like that, the money is gone.
Scammers Prey on Anxious Home Buyers
New home buyers and realtors need to be aware of a trend that, according to CNBC.com, has risen nearly 500% in recent years. The keys to avoiding this type of scam is to be suspicious of last minute changes. The other, and perhaps more important thing to understand, is that these scammer prey upon people under stress. If the transaction must occur quickly in order to secure or lose the house, that’s when buyers should be most alert. Phone calls work well to verify the validity of email communications.
An article on Time.com’s Money alerts home buyers to call previously used phone numbers, not the number on the most recent email, the one that asks for a change in payment format. The other tactic that shrewd future-homeowners should employ is to check every letter of the return address of that last email asking for a diversion of funds. Scammers may create addresses that differ from the originals by only one letter, making the difference invisible at a casual glance.
Outsmarting Scammers that Target New Home Buyers
Outsmarting the scammers requires vigilance. Savvy home buyers should be suspicious of last minute changes, pay attention to the sender’s email address, verify changes with phone calls, and most of all keep your cool! With a level head you can take the needed time to confirm the legitimacy of the very important transaction you are about to make.