NewsRegion S Palm Beach CountyBoca Raton


Scammers targeting realtors, renters in South Florida

Posted: 3:27 PM, Feb 18, 2020
Updated: 2020-02-18 21:11:52-05

BOCA RATON, Fla. — For many people, buying a home will the most expensive purchase they will make.

South Florida realtors say the price tag on homes is drawing scammers.

Three realty companies are warning buyers and sellers about scammers trying to get involved in the home buying process.

"It is really not hard for the bad guys to get our information and try to insert themselves into the transaction," said Ben Schachter with Signature Real Estate Companies.

Schachter said earlier this month someone posed as a seller. The person had all the proper documentation to sell the property. When the buyer’s title company asked for the seller’s social security number, they disappeared. Schachter said that is when they learned that person never owned the property and if the sale went through, it could have been years before anyone found out.

"It might have been until that time when the property was virtually stolen and sold from one person to another," said Schachter.

Better Clark with Remax in Boca Raton said that in December someone hacked into an email chain with her buyer. They pretended to be the title company and told the buyer to wire transfer them money.

The buyer wired $65,000, not knowing this was a scam.

"I was in shock," said Cark.

Remax President David Selre said the hacker made it look legitimate.

"Any normal buyer would look at it and say, yeah," said Selre.

Florida Best Reality realtor Christopher Tapia said renters are also being targeted. He said someone tried to rent out a property he owned by taking nearly $5,000 from a potential renter.

"He actually has the lockbox code and showed the property," said Tapia.

The three companies agree that verifying information can help protect buyers and sellers. Schachter said it is smart not to trust email or technology and to never be afraid to make a phone call and ask questions throughout the process to make sure your information is accurate and secure.

"You may want to put up a little bit more concern with the people you are dealing with by phone and email," said Schachter.