Real Estate Scam Comes to Town
I hadn’t seen this particular real estate scam before today. Most real estate scams are targeted at consumers, but this one takes a slightly different path and goes at the real estate agents. One of our agents was corresponding with a prospective buyer via email after they inquired about a particular house we had listed. The property was under contract, so the agent sent the buyer some other properties in the area that were similar. Standard operating procedure for a real estate agent. What followed was an email from the buyer saying that they were away on vacation, but they included a link to “…view the pictures of the kind of property I am interested in.” My agent then approached me because he said his computer wasn’t cooperating and he couldn’t open the link. He often comes to me with computer problems, so still no red flags. He forwarded me the email and I clicked the link. This is when I started to realize that this was a real estate scam.
My browser popped up a warning from Google that this particular link looked suspicious and that it might be a phishing attempt. For those of you that don’t know what phishing is, it is a method in which a website looks and feels like one website, but is really designed to get you to login and enter your user name and password for nefarious purposes. A classic scam basically. It has become critical to get more info before proceeding with any website. You’ve probably seen bank phishing scams in your inbox, typically from banks you don’t have accounts at. I was curious about this one though, so I ignored the warning and clicked through to the site to review further (as long as I didn’t enter any information, I would remain relatively safe). The image used for this post shows what I saw next. The Realtor.com logo, with a request for me to login using an email service. Obviously, I didn’t enter any information there, but basically it wanted to pretend to give me the info I wanted, if only I would give the site my username and password for my email. Seriously dangerous ground, especially in light of the recent tons of Yahoo-originated spam I’ve been seeing. Of course, there are those that would see the Realtor.com logo and be more than happy to provide the information, since it’s a site real estate agents know and are familiar with. It’s not the most complicated real estate scam I’ve ever seen and certainly not well executed, but it will catch some people off guard, particularly agents hungry for a solid lead and a commission check.
Below is a copy of the email from the prospective buyer. It’s poorly written (as most real estate scams are), but I thought it might help someone as they often cut and paste these responses when running a large scale real estate scam.
Thanks for the reply, I’m sorry for the late response, I have been busy with my family on a vacation. I will only be available next week Wed Morning to talk on the phone because am on the Sea top I am able to reply via my satellite device. Below is the link to view the pictures of the kind of property am interested in.. Just click or copy paste the link..
Please let me know if you have the kind of property or find anything similar to what am looking for on the site.
This does not seem to be a real estate scam as much as it is a email scam. Beware of Nigerians and Greeks bearing gifts.
While we could split hairs over whether it’s an email scam or a real estate scam (if you ask me, a scam is a scam is a scam), I used the term “real estate scam” as it was specifically targeting real estate agents.
Kate Hawks says
Thank you for keeping this post alive! This scam is CURRENT. I’ve had two such inquiries (I am a Realtor) and fortunately, followed my gut instinct to back away. Your post is so valuable, as it confirms my gut was correct and now I can just delete any new same-type inquiries. Thank you!