Wire fraud has become a significant problem affecting countless individuals. The advent of technology has made business transactions easier. However, with that convenience comes those who use innovation to commit crimes, particularly real estate businesses, and their consumers.
CertifID Inc., used by Steier & McCormick, LLC, is recognized for its leadership in protecting consumers from wire fraud. They recently collaborated with federal law enforcement to address the trend of so-called “sellers” who are nothing more than imposters that target real property owners.
A 2022 FBI Congressional Report covering real estate wire fraud cited Business Email Compromise (BEC) as the top source of losses totaling $2.48 billion in 2021, according to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (CC3). Data reveals significant incidents related to listing and selling vacant land properties supposedly free of mortgage leads, with bad actors playing the role of owners.
November saw declining home sales for ten consecutive months, forcing cybercrime organizations to employ new strategies to account for the lack of volume they usually would have access to. In any economic setting, various tactics are used.
Easily accessible public records identify real estate and land owners who own vacant lots or rental properties without mortgages or liens. Scammers reach out to realtors to list the properties for sale. To conceal their identity, they communicate digitally to avoid face-to-face interactions.
From there, they list the real estate below the current market value to gauge and subsequently generate interest in the property. Offers are quickly accepted, with the buyer preferably paying cash.
When it comes time to close, the scammer will refuse to sign documents in person. Instead, they would request a notary signing in a remote location with the grifter also serving as the notary, falsifying paperwork. Even the final step, the transfer of closing proceeds, does not typically alert. The scam is uncovered upon documents being transferred to the appropriate county.
Steier & McCormick, LLC, is committed to ensuring quality legal service and security in all transactions courtesy of CertifID Inc.