By Bob Walsmith Jr.
Santa Barbara Association of Realtors
We all know that the real estate market is hot and that homes are being purchased almost as soon as they are listed. However, this hot market can bring out the worst in people as well.
Finding a place to live can be an exciting but stressful experience. As people hurry through the home buying or renting process, their eagerness will sometimes lead to fatigue. They may let their guard down and not notice the signs of possible real estate fraud.
According to one recent study, real estate is the third most common sector for fraud attempts behind construction and commercial services. Housing scams are prevalent across all aspects of the housing industry, with criminals targeting both renters and owners. This is due to the large sums of money involved in the transactions as well as the sharing of sensitive information among multiple parties.
Traditional real estate transactions revolve around email, which makes them vulnerable to cyber-attacks. The FBI announced in its 2020 Internet Crime Report that real estate fraud complaints resulted in over $1.8 billion in losses in 2020 alone. Despite growing awareness around cyber-attacks, it continues to be a threat in the real estate industry.
Being aware of common forms of real estate fraud is an important step in avoiding scams. The following are ways criminals often target the public:
Wire Transfer Fraud –