In recent months, MIBOR has received an increasing number of calls from members who receive leads from websites from buyers who are attempting to purchase properties sight unseen. It is extremely important that you exercise due diligence with these leads as it is strongly suspected that they might be scams. The simple fact that they want to purchase sight unseen is not in and of itself the determining factor. You should look at the entire scenario. The typical story is as follows:
- Buyer contacts REALTOR® via email through a lead generated by a housing website of some kind.
- Buyer wants to purchase the property sight unseen.
- Buyer says they would like to purchase a specific listing, usually in the price range of $300-800,000. Buyer wants you to recommend a good attorney for them to use.
- Buyer wants to send a very large earnest money deposit/down payment to you or the attorney you recommend. (It is suspected that they might want to have this money deposited in the attorney’s escrow account, or have the REALTOR® deposit it in their company’s escrow account.)
These buyers are “fishing”, sending many emails to REALTORS® with stories such as intending to retire in Indiana. It is suspected that the intent of these scammers is for you or the attorney to deposit a check into an escrow account, possibly walk away from the transaction, and have the money refunded to them. If the check wasn’t good to start with, then it is possible that the attorney or company writing the check might be out the funds. In addition, it is suspected that the scammer may be trying to access the attorney’s escrow account.
Be aware that these scams have been occurring on and off for the past several years. Please continue to report them to MIBOR so that we can track them for patterns and post information on the Welcome Screen. Knowing that there are legitimate buyers from outside of the country, we will post names only if we receive multiple reports on the same individual.