2023 Real Estate Scams: How to Spot and Stop Scammers in Their Tracks

2023 Real Estate Scams: How to Spot and Stop Scammers in Their Tracks

With everyone vying for that perfect slice of property, it's no surprise that some shady characters are trying to take advantage of eager house hunters and current homeowners alike. It's essential to keep your guard up and your detective hat on to avoid falling victim to these tricks. Here are 6 to watch out for:


AI Property Scam

How It Works

You might have heard of it as vacation rental fraud, the invisible home trick, or even the Craigslist scam, but they all follow a similar sneaky playbook. These cyber tricksters employ fancy computer stuff, like generative artificial intelligence tools such as ChatGPT, Bard, and Midjourney. These tools help them create super convincing fake emails, texts, voicemails, videos, photos, and websites – all designed to swipe your sensitive info.


Sometimes, they take it a step further and use deepfake tactics to promote properties that aren't really up for grabs, making them seem like amazing "short-term" or vacation rentals. They're in a big rush to make you believe you need to pay up fast for a place that doesn't even exist. It's all a clever con game.


Disaster Contractor Scam 

How It Works

After disasters strike, there are some shady contractors out there who take advantage of homeowners in dire need of quick repairs. They'll ask for money upfront and then vanish into thin air, leaving families stuck in homes that are still damaged and unsafe. To make matters worse, some of these crooks go to extreme lengths, pretending to collect donations for disaster relief when, in reality, they're just pocketing the cash.


These guys are masters of high-pressure sales tactics. They'll push you into signing contracts and demand you fork over the cash immediately. When you try to get some basic info like their license numbers, insurance, or the total costs, they tend to be super vague. And guess what? They don't even have a proper business address most of the time. It's like they're ghosts in the construction world, only out to make a quick buck.



Real Estate Land Scam

How It Works

So, here's a sneaky scam that often preys on property owners who live out of state, especially those who might have inherited land or just haven't been around for a while. These tricksters pretend to be the "owners" of the property, and then they go ahead and list it for sale as if it's theirs.


They're not just winging it, though. Nope, they do their homework – they'll ask for copies of deeds and might even make a little trip to the property to chat with the folks in the neighborhood, all to make their scheme seem super legit. It's a whole production!



Real Estate Social Media Scam

How It Works

Okay, here's the deal with these cybercriminals: they're all about sending tricky messages to get their hands on info that helps them steal identities or break into people's online accounts. They're not just randomly asking for stuff, though. They go for the personal stuff, like your pet's name, the first car you drove, or the street you grew up on – things that often end up being the basis for your passwords. 


Once they crack the code and get into your account, they can really mess things up. They might change your profile, delete your stuff, or even post things that can cause some serious damage. 


Moving Scam

How It Works

Alright, let's talk about these shady movers for a minute. They start by offering you an unbelievably low price to move your stuff, and you're thinking, "Wow, what a great deal!" But here's the twist: once they've loaded up your belongings, they suddenly crank up the price. You're left feeling trapped and pressured into paying way more than you originally agreed to.


These situations, often called "hostage situations," are totally illegal, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) isn't messing around. They can slap those dishonest movers with hefty fines. So, here's what you should watch out for: if a moving company gives you a super low estimate that seems too good to be true, or they don't promise a binding or "not-to-exceed" price in the quote they give you, that's a red flag.


Also, they should provide pamphlets explaining your rights and responsibilities as a consumer, like the "Ready For Your Move" pamphlet. Keep an eye out for these warning signs, and don't let those sketchy movers take you for a ride!


'We Buy Ugly Houses' Scam

How It Works

Let's talk about this "we buy ugly houses" scam. These buyers go after homeowners who are in a tough spot, and they start by making offers way below the actual market value of the house. After snagging the property, they turn around and sell it for a hefty profit. Now, here's where it gets really sneaky: they might use high-pressure tactics or make false promises, like saying you can stay in your home even after the deal is done. 


Their targets are often folks who are in dire financial straits or individuals with dementia, which is just plain cruel. So, here are the warning signs to look out for: if someone approaches you with a super low cash offer, with no strings attached and no time for you to think it over, that's a red flag. They might also avoid giving you information about the company that's buying your house. Don't fall for their tricks – keep your guard up and protect yourself from these opportunistic scammers!


We're the Mortgage Professionals that look out for YOU!


We're all in this together, and sharing our experiences can go a long way in safeguarding our local real estate market from various schemes and scams. Have you come across any suspicious activities or encountered unscrupulous individuals in your neighborhood? Let us know so we can also spread the word!

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