!!! CONSUMER ALERTS !!!
With the continuing advancement of internet and mobile communications capabilities and the sophistication of criminals, real estate related scams are increasing in our state and across the nation. The agency is proud to provide consumers with alerts to help educate the public about such activities so that there will be fewer new victims. If you are aware of any real estate scams that Texas consumers should know about, please contact us.
A Warning for Consumers in the Rental Market
TREC has been notified of a scam that has been affecting consumers who are looking at rental properties in North Texas. A leasing advertisement is re-posted on real estate websites and other listing sites by "fake agents". These listings are typically offered at a much lower rate than the actual rates being offered. Then when consumers respond to the listing, they are directed to an online "apply here" web address. This site requests the completed lease application and full deposit up front - then the "fake agent" disappears, taking with them the deposit money. Always verify the agent's licensing information before any transaction is completed or transfer of funds. You can do that using TREC's License Holder Lookup Tool.
Warning to Consumers About Wire Transfers
TREC has recently become aware of a scam involving a request to wire funds for a pending real estate transaction. The solicitation email looks
like an official request from a real estate agent, lender or title company to send funds via a wire transfer. Never make any wire transfers
without first confirming the request by phone or in person with your real estate agent, title company and lender. Do not use the phone number
provided in a suspicious email nor reply by email. Never login to an unknown website or give out personal information without first confirming
Houston Real Estate Radio Program Finds New Home
10/07/13 — HOUSTON (RREA Media) – “Houston Real Estate Radio” is moving to Newsradio 740 KTRH, the largest AM radio station in Houston and the fourth largest in the nation. The program will debut on KTRH Sunday, Nov. 3, at 6 p.m. It will also be available on the iHeartRadio mobile app, iTunes, KGCP Internet Radio and VoiceAmerica. For almost two years, “Houston Real Estate Radio” has helped Houston residents make housing decisions through a combination of online video, social media interaction and good old-fashioned airwaves. Real Estate Center economists are among the show's regular guests.
The show, which is hosted by Shannon Register, brought home the best “TV/Radio/Talk Show” at the 2013 AVA Digital Awards.
FREE FORUM TO ADDRESS MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE SCAMS
08/27/12 — A Loan Scam Alert Forum, sponsored by the Alamo Area Council of Governments, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, NeighborWorks America and the City of San Antonio Human Services Department is planned for Friday, Aug. 31, from 9 a.m. to noon. The forum will be held in the Al J. Notzon III Board Room at 8700 Tesoro Drive, Suite 100 in San Antonio. The forum will address the increasing number of mortgage foreclosure scams homeowners face and will offer information on how to identify such scams, how to help families at risk of foreclosure, free resource materials and an opportunity to network with local and federal agencies. The event is free, but space is limited so those seeking to attend should RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday, Aug. 27. For more information, call 281-536-9939.
RENTAL SCAMS ON CRAIGSLIST IN THE VALLEY
08/08/12 — In the Brownsville area, license holders who have rental listings in
MLS with multiple pictures, are having their listings pulled redacted, and
put on Craig's List. If the license holder rental price is say $1,000, the
scammer is putting it out for $500.00 and when people contact the scammer,
he or she tells them to send the first month's rent and deposit. When the
people arrive and find out they have been scammed, they are upset.
See more information here from the FBI regarding this criminal activity: http://www.fbi.gov/majcases/fraud/fraudschemes.htm. Also, Craigslist recommends you take the following precautions when locating opportunities through their website: http://www.craigslist.org/about/scams
CRAIGSLIST REAL ESTATE SCAMS
07/28/10 — Beware of real estate scams, in particular rental offers, which are found on Craigslist. Many of these scams have to do with individuals who claim to be away from the U.S. doing missionary work in Nigeria. This is a version of “419” fraud which violates section 419 of the Nigerian criminal code. See more information here from the FBI regarding this criminal activity: http://www.fbi.gov/majcases/fraud/fraudschemes.htm. Also, Craigslist recommends you take the following precautions when locating opportunities through their website: http://www.craigslist.org/about/scams
SCAM WARNING TO LICENSE HOLDERS
07/27/10 — License holders should be cautious when contacted by an international buyer and/or their attorney or real estate professional, who is interested in purchasing U.S. property. While it may seem legit, even if they send proof of funds, the only way to know for sure is to verify with the bank that the supposed funds came from. Read more about this scam through Texas license holder, Joe Bryson’s post on www.trulia.com: http://www.trulia.com/blog/joe_bryson
CBS 11 INVESTIGATES POSSIBLE REAL ESTATE SCAM
04/02/10 — Texas is warning Dallas/Fort Worth residents about what it calls a real estate brokerage scam. The Texas Real Estate Commission said it's investigating complaints that an unlicensed real estate brokerage company cheated dozens of customers out of thousands of dollars. The CBS 11 Investigators caught up with the owner of the company. Read the entire article and watch the news clip: http://cbs11tv.com/local/real.estate.real.2.1609190.html
TREC WARNS PUBLIC OF REAL ESTATE BROKERAGE SCAMS IN DFW AREA
04/01/10 — The Texas Real Estate Commission Standards and Enforcement Services Division (TREC) has received complaints against a group of individuals and companies that have been doing business in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. The individuals and companies named in the complaints represent themselves as real estate agents and real estate brokerage companies but do not hold Texas real estate licenses. Owners of real property, tenants, buyers, and investors claim to have lost large sums of money related to the group’s real estate schemes. Among other things, the complainants allege that the group takes and keeps deposits for properties over which they have no authority or no control. They allegedly do not pay rent to property owners on property they claim to manage for those owners, or take large security deposits from tenants and then keep the money. They take deposits or earnest money on properties that they claim are available for a short sale but in reality are days away from foreclosure. Apparently, much of the solicitation of potential victims has been conducted through www.craigslist.com. Read the entire press release.
TALCB ENFORCEMENT DIVISION ASSISTS LAW ENFORCEMENT IN COMBATING MORTGAGE FRAUD
03/23/10 — The Texas Appraiser Licensing and Certification Board (TALCB)’s Standards and Enforcement Services Division (SES) regularly receives requests for assistance in ongoing state and federal mortgage fraud investigations. HB 716 (80th legislative session) created the Texas Residential Mortgage Fraud Task Force, of which TALCB is a member. TALCB’s SES Division regularly provides assistance to the Texas State Attorney General, county district attorneys’ offices, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Texas Department of Public Safety, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Inspector General, among others. In late 2007, the Collin County District Attorney’s Office contacted TALCB SES and requested assistance with several mortgage fraud cases in which appraisers were alleged to be involved. TALCB SES Investigator Jack McComb was already investigating regulatory complaint cases involving some of these same real estate appraisers. TALCB’s assistance to Collin County led to the conviction of several of the appraisers. Read the entire press release.
RENTAL AND REAL ESTATE SCAMS
03/12/10 — Individuals need to be cautious when posting rental properties and real estate on-line. The IC3 continues to receive numerous complaints from individuals who have fallen victim to scams involving rentals of apartments and houses, as well as postings of real estate online. Rental scams occur when the victim has rental property advertised and is contacted by an interested party. Once the rental price is agreed-upon, the scammer forwards a check for the deposit on the rental property to the victim. The check is to cover housing expenses and is, either written in excess of the amount required, with the scammer asking for the remainder to be remitted back, or the check is written for the
correct amount, but the scammer backs out of the rental agreement and asks for a refund. Since the banks do not usually place a hold on the funds, the victim has immediate access to them and believes the check has cleared. In the end, the check is found to be counterfeit and the victim is held responsible by the bank for all losses.
Another type of scam involves real estate that is posted via classified advertisement websites. The scammer duplicates postings from legitimate real estate websites and reposts these ads, after altering them. Often, the scammers use the broker’s real name to create a fake e-mail, which gives the fraud more legitimacy. When the victim sends an e-mail through the classified advertisement website inquiring about the home, they receive a response from someone claiming to be the owner. The “owner” claims he and his wife are currently on missionary work in a foreign country. Therefore, he needs someone to rent their home while they are away. If the victim is interested in renting the home, they are asked to send money to the owner in the foreign country. If you have been a victim of Internet crime, please file a complaint at http://www.IC3.gov/ .