The Better Business Bureau has come out with a warning about the disturbing rise in cases of real estate fraud.
According to the BBB, losses from real estate scams totaled $360 million in 2016. Just two years later this figure multiplied to about $1.3 billion. BBB investigations specialist Steve Baker authored a report that sheds light on a surge of similar real estate scams in recent years.
The most prolific recent real estate scam comes in the form of an email sent out to recent home buyers. These emails will most often have a scammer impersonate a lawyer who asks the home buyer to wire them large sums of money for “closing fees” or similar fake expenses. Baker’s report, titled “Is that email really from the boss?” reveals the disturbing extent to which these scams are taking place. Between 2015 and 2017 there was an “explosion” of email scams of this nature. During this time, reports of real estate scams jumped up by 1100%. It is estimated that 80% of businesses and organizations have gotten one of these emails during the last year.
To avoid these real estate scams, it’s best to call to confirm all large transactions. The BBB advises that you don’t correspond over email alone. Baker’s report also recommends that businesses take “technical precautions” like multi-factor authentication for email logins and specific employee training on avoiding fraud and taking security more seriously. The report calls on further cooperation between law enforcement agencies as well, as many “fraud gangs” are becoming quite organized and creative.