Don Sabatini, a real estate agent in Willow Glen, CA, relates his true story of his client becoming the victim of a digital real estate scam. The COVID-19 outbreak meant that Sabatini had to conduct much of his business via email, though he and his client agreed to present the cashier’s check in person, while following social distancing guidelines. Despite this agreement, a scammer had been looking in on the email exchange. The client received several emails posing as the title agent, lender, and even Sabatini himself, increasingly threatening in tone. The scammer told the client that the offices will likely be closed, so she should simply wire the money. Feeling pressured by the barrage of threatening emails, she did so. The client and Sabatini realized she’d been scammed the next afternoon, but by then some of the money was irreparably lost. Fortunately, she was able to recover most of it, losing only $2000, and complete the transaction.
This story isn’t an isolated incident. The most recent data is from 2018, with the FBI estimating 11,300 people became victims of an online real estate scam in that year alone. It was an increase of 17% from 2017. Even without data from this year, you can imagine that with current pandemic increasing the rate of online real estate transactions, the rate of scam attempts is also increasing.
We are still conducting business, so don’t hesitate to call or email us if you are looking to buy or sell, but do be careful of scams.