BluefoxToday blog : Real estate rip-offs on the move

Real estate rip-offs on the move

The housing and mortgage markets are having a less than robust time these days and that is like an invitation to scam artists who know a thing or two about the real estate business. They generally go for the homeowners struggling with their finances, in other words the ones who are rather susceptible to any sort of a solution that could bail them out. But they also increasingly seek out those who are just plain, payment-making homeowners, preferably with plenty of equity on the property.

One of the latest tricks according to the FBI is house stealing. The whole sequence begins with the owner's identity being swiped. After that the swindler generates a false Social Security card and often other IDs. Now he gets his hands on some needed and widely-available forms, fabricates the necessary signatures, files the paperwork with the local authorities and this way manages to transfer the house to another name.

This maneuver works best on vacant homes, preferably with good equity. Las Vegas for instance has an ample supply of them today, empty bank REOs are all over the place and as a resort destination there are thousands of vacation properties throughout the valley that are only occupied intermittently.

Then comes the real move. The crook now puts the property up for sale, unloads it to a trusting prospect that likes the attractive price and smiles all the way to the bank with his profits. Just like that. In the process the happy home buyer got stung, as did the real owner and the mortgage lender that made the loan.  

Identity theft of course continues to be a major problem nowadays. Each and every year over 8 million people become victims and the losses associated with it reach beyond $15 billion annually, according to the Federal Trade Commission. U.S. Secret Service, tasked with prosecuting federal cases, says that half of the time a business was somehow the source of the pilfered private information. Regardless, it pays to keep a wary eye on anything unusual in your financial statements and other official paperwork.



Provided by: 

Esko Kiuru
Mortgage, real estate and apartment industry analyst - syndicated mortgage, housing and property management blog
My cell: 702-499-1006

Comment balloon 12 commentsEsko Kiuru • June 29 2008 10:10PM


Hi Esko;

I agree with your post...Scams are very active. I do home that home owners are not falling for those escams.


Posted by Anthony Stokes-Pereira, Realtor (Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty) over 10 years ago

Hi Esko... This is a scam that is running rampant!  An agent in my office just had a vacant listing get caught up in exactly what you describe 2 weeks ago.  What a nightmare for EVERYONE involved!

Posted by Steve Shatsky over 10 years ago

Scams are all over the place. If the deal is too good to be true- it probably is.



Posted by Bill C. Merrell, Ph.D. - Merrell Institue (Merrell Institute ~ Appraisal Education Network) over 10 years ago

Esko the crooks are always out there seeking their prey no matter what the economic climate.  We need to constantly be on the lookout or fall into their traps.

Posted by George Souto, Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert (George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages) over 10 years ago


Homeowners have to be extra vigilant nowadays.

Posted by Esko Kiuru over 10 years ago


Vacant homes are really ripe for scamming.

Posted by Esko Kiuru over 10 years ago


Too-good-to-be-true scenario should get the bells ringing.

Posted by Esko Kiuru over 10 years ago


Homeowners need to keep their guard up at all times.

Posted by Esko Kiuru over 10 years ago

where is the title company in all this?

Posted by Alyce Martin, Albuquerque - THE Place To Be! (The Realty Group, LLC) over 10 years ago


They likely got hoodwinked, too.

Posted by Esko Kiuru over 10 years ago

Thanks, Esko. I'm not surprised. Criminals always sense an opportunity to make a fast buck. The only saving grace is they usually get caught and often have to pay a heavy price!



Posted by Paul McFadden, Pest Control, Seattle, WA. (Paratex) over 10 years ago


Crooks seem to be especially hungry during these tough times.

Posted by Esko Kiuru over 10 years ago