Beware of Real Estate Escrow Check Scam

By  //  September 2, 2012

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REAL ESTATE

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA  – We recently received an e-mail correspondence  regarding a buyer wanting to purchase a Florida condo.  

The so-called buyer portrayed himself to be a ready, willing and able buyer, and seeking to make a sight unseen offer on a condo, pay all cash and close quickly. With all this being said, we googled his name and everything seemed to be on the up and up.

In a nut shell, this is how the scam goes: They ask you to deposit the check and before the check clears they portray to need you to wire them a certain amount back because they have had some type of family emergency – all in hopes that they get you to mail the funds before the bank clears the so called check.

Unfortunately, the property he originally inquired about had just gone under contract with another buyer.  We then sent him other comparables for sale. He quickly identified another property and wanted us to make a close to full price offer immediately. Also, we received a call from the potential client asking for us to refer him to a reputable attorney to represent him in this transaction.

At this point, buyer “Dr. Andrew Crowley,” had done nothing unethical. However, Crowley was very quick to identify a property (without actually seeing it), very quick to make an offer (without having knowledge of comparable sales) and insisted on mailing us his escrow check (instead of wiring the funds).  We asked him on several occasions if he would be having the property inspected and he would not reply. At this point there seemed to be way too many red flags for a normal transaction.

Crowley eventually contacted Brevard County attorney Curt Mosley with Mosley & Wallis P.A. in Melbourne to make sure he would have legal representation throughout the entire transaction.

“Cowley submitted an escrow check for $205,000. This escrow check was dated before we told Cowley who to make it payable to, and our guess was that the check was counterfeit.”

“If this in fact is a scam, then it will more than likely take place with the $10,000 escrow deposit,” said Mosley.

Cowley submitted an escrow check for $205,000. This escrow check was dated before we told Cowley who to make it payable to, and our guess was that the check was counterfeit.

The next day, Crowley called multiple times wanting to know if his check had cleared. We have represented many buyers and sellers in our career and not once have we had someone seem so anxious about the status of their check clearing.

Needless to say, his check was counterfeit and did not clear. We tried to contact Crowley several times to no avail.

In a nut shell, this is how the scam goes: They ask you to deposit the check and before the check clears they portray to need you to wire them a certain amount back because they have had some type of family emergency – all in hopes that they get you to mail the funds before the bank clears the so called check.

“This scam is very active at the present time,” said Mosley.

“If a realtor or attorney is contacted by a professional who wants to buy a local home for cash sight unseen who claims to be in the UK and wants to send you a cashier’s check, not wired funds, most likely the transaction is probably fraudulent.  Don’t fall for this scam because it not real. Put the scammer ‘s name on the fraud hotline as soon as possible to protect others who may fall for the scam.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Freeman

Bobby Freeman, a life-time resident of Brevard County, has been a top Realtor in the area for two decades. In his first year as an agent, Freeman received a Rising Star award from his Brokers. Since then he has achieved numerous sales awards and has recently been presented with the prestigious RE/MAX Hall of Fame Award.

Freeman, Jennifer McCoy and Nikki McCoy Freeman are family partners for RE/MAX Elite’s McCoy-Freeman Group. Together they have more than 30 years of extensive experience in all aspects of the real estate industry and have sold over $150 million. Among McCoy-Freeman Group’s achievement are RE/MAX Hall of Fame, RE/MAX 100% Club, Certified Distressed Property Experts (CDPE), Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR) and voted Best Realtor in Brevard County. The group has been featured in many news publications including CNN Money Magazine, CNNMoney.com, WFTV 9 ABC News, Florida Today, Coastal Condo Living, & Hot Retirement Towns Magazine and SpaceCoastDaily.com.

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