Renting or buying, Las Vegas realtors warn about scams
LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - Whether you’re buying or renting, scams come in many forms and Las Vegas Valley realtors are warning about the recent scams they’re experiencing.
A week and a half ago Michael Marino, a realtor out of Henderson, was contacted by a man looking to sell two properties within the MacDonald Ranch community.
“Some of the answers that he gave kind of set off a couple red flags the way he answered them the fact that he didn’t know certain things about the land but not everyone knows every little detail about their property so it was in a guard gated very exclusive community. So he somehow had access to that guard gated list and I didn’t think anything of it he must be the real owner. Went to the property and got an estimate of what the property is worth,” Marino said.
Marino looked up the seller’s name, who already owned property nearby.
“I saw that this particular person owned a vacant piece of land, and then couple streets away within this guard gated community owned a 5,000 square foot house so if you live in that house and you own land just up the street you should have a basic understanding so that was a red flag,” Marino said.
He spoke with his broker at his company, Realty One Group, about some concerns. Marino went online and looked at the last sale for that property. He reached out to the realtor from four years ago which got him in touch with the real owner.
“He said in a text, I’m in a meeting I don’t know who you are, I don’t know what you’re talking about. I said - this is Michael Marino from Realty One Group we spoke this morning on your other phone number, and he said ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about.’ So as soon as he told me that and as soon as I got off the phone with his agent from four years ago I knew at that point it wasn’t the real seller,” Marino.
Marino said it’s about knowing how to separate somebody that is serious to somebody who is trying to take advantage.
“The scammer will get the realtor to list the property, sometimes go into escrow and in some cases close on that property so we didn’t get to a point where we listed it,” Marino said.
Tony Madaffari has been a Las Vegas realtor for the last eight years. He said he sees scams come his way in different form.
“I get text messages all the time hey Tony can you tell me about this property and it will be a link to a property. That link is malware because there’s a lot of scams going on with wire fraud. So you have Bob and Mary buy a house, you know they maybe are going to pay cash or put in large deposit. The escrow company wants you to wire the funds well a lot of the times the escrow companies have encrypted email - a lot of agents do not. So you’ll see a lot of scammers come towards the agents in kind of hopes of getting malware on your phone or your computer. Because the second a client wires that money it’s gone if it goes to the wrong account,” Madaffari said.
And it’s not just homebuyers, renters are targets as well.
“And these are the red flags ‘hey if you have bad credit I’ll work with you, if you can’t afford the security deposit I’ll work with you.’ They’re always willing to work with you but it’s always they want the money in advance,” Madaffari said.
Madaffari says that if the price sounds too good to be true, it probably is. It’s all about being vigilant.
“Zillow and Trulia and them, they will let you put an ad up without actually verifying that you own the property,” Madaffari said.
According to realtor.com, wire fraud is the most common kind of real estate scam.
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