Scam Warning!

January 12, 2023

- By The MAR Legal Team

The real estate industry has become accustomed to the ever-evolving threats of fraud, whether it be through wiring instructions, postings of listed properties for rent, or a novel scheme. MAR has recently become aware of a new scam occurring in marketplaces across the country, including Massachusetts. In this scam, an individual contacts a broker to list a property for sale, often times land or a vacant home, but they are not the owner of the property and do not have the authority to sell that property. Frequently, the “seller” will be located out of state and may only communicate via email, text, or phone call. 

REALTORS® should take extra caution when receiving an online or blind lead to ensure that the information provided is legitimate. Prior to entering into a contract with an out-of-state client, REALTORS® should engage in some due diligence, such as: 

  • Have a video meeting with the lead; 
  • Ask to see the individual’s identification;  
  • Search the internet and social media to see if they seem legitimate; 
  • Ask for proof of funds;  
  • Check the property records – do the names match? 
  • Verify that the email address does not seem phony or come from a suspect extension. 

If you receive a lead that seems too good to be true, or otherwise seems suspicious in any way, stop and have a conversation with your broker prior to moving forward. Failure to engage in due diligence could result in significant harm to you, your broker, the buyer, and the true owner of the property.