Real Estate Scams: More twists on old con games
Local agent relates a recent scam experience
by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online!
March 24, 2008
Local real estate agent James Thomas, with High Mountain Real Estate, wrote in to comment that earlier in March he had an experience similar to the classified ad scams we wrote about in a previous article. His incident was in the form of what he believed was a real estate scam.
The agency received an inquiry from a potential buyer claiming to be in the United Kingdom about a vacant lot he saw listed on a website. Over the course of subsequent e-mails, the Pinedale real estate agent grew more suspicious about the buyer. "This looked perfectly (100%) legit to begin with. The second email looked semi-legit. Making an offer without seeing my property was the first tip-off to me that something was going on and then being International was an even stronger signal that it was fake. When I got the third email from this individual I ‘definitely’ knew it was a scam."
In this case, the prospective buyer was offering $137,000 for a 40-acre parcel of land currently listed in Sublette County. Below are portions of the correspondence:
Portion of initial e-mail from the prospective buyer:
Lead from real estate website:
“Hello I need more information about the property listed in the subject for sale. Update me on the present condition,the asking prices and if possible send me more present pictures of it.”
Portion of 2nd e-mail from prospective buyer (regarding setting up a meeting to see the property):
"Thanks for you response. I am interested so far. Am actually purchasing this property for my dad as a gift for his upcoming retirement from service. I would need us to set up a meeting so that I can take a good look at it before we proceed. I am offering $137,000.00 for it. Currently am attending a summit in Uk with W.H.O but hopefully I should be done by the weekend so anytime from Monday will be fine with me. I await your response ASAP."
Portion of 3rd e-mail from prospective buyer:
I truly appreciate your effort in all. I regret to state that i won't be able to make it on time to come over to view the property. I will send you a comprehensive mail with the way things are going to go through as I don't know how soon I can leave the United Kingdom because of some new developments over here.
I would be sending a group of Survey team down to meet with the owner of the property but i know there won't be any transaction unless you have given me your words and approval. A check will be drawn out to your name so as to proceed with this transaction.I am purchasing this property for my dad as a gift for his upcoming retirement from service and the date is fast drawing near. A check of $50,948.00 will be sent to you, you will take 20% of it as deposit for the property just to make sure that it is not sold to any other person,and to pull off the ads on any advert that it might have posted on. You will make sure the rest are been remitted to the Survey Firm so as to enable them carry out all the Survey and rightfully responsibilities as regards to this transaction,because they have confirmed to me that unless they receive some part payment Asap they won't be coming over to your location.
As soon as they complete all Survey and confirm the status of the transaction successfully and approved by government that is after going through Survey and all legal proper documentaries the complete funds for the property will be wired into the nominated account of the owners before the release of the title or the change of ownership documents. I will be needing you to provide me with either your company name or name and address that will be attention ed to the check. Thanks for your understanding and effort. Please keep me advised as to any additional requirements you have."
The correspondence came in from a Mr. Mathew Joseph, firstname.lastname@example.org. But in his signatures over multiple e-mails he couldn’t even get his own name spelled correctly:
The incident was turned over to the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office for investigation. The agent has not had any more contacts from this prospective buyer asking about the property. “I knew immediately that there was some suspicion when the person offered $137K for a property sight unseen,” Thomas said.
Thank you to James Thomas with High Mountain Real Estate for passing along his experience in the hopes it might help prevent another real estate agent from getting duped by a similar contact.
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