Mortgage fraud was rampant in 2005-2006 at the height of the United States housing bubble. Conduct a Google search and you will see find stories where mortgage fraud and house flipping schemes were perpetrated by mortgage loan officers, real estate appraisers, real estate agents. Sometimes, there would be a combination of all three, working together.
More recently, we have seen online scams where a foreign “cash buyer” contacts a real estate agent to buy an expensive property “site unseen” and want to close fairly quickly. An excellent source of the stories related to the online “all cash” foreign scam buyer can be found at http://homesteadtitle.wordpress.com/2010/06/15/real-estate-scam-warning/
Going back to 2010, you will see the first post and all the follow-ups by Realtors from around the United States about their experience with scam artists with names such as Ken Chin, Chang Lee, Otake Iwao, Miki Watanabe, Han Cheung, Han Hung, or Yuji Inoue, etc.
“Ken Chin” showed up as a Zillow lead in early October 2013 and said he wanted to buy a specific 2-family property that just came onto the market for $500,000 and it would be an all cash transaction. It would also be a “site unseen” purchase as there was no mention of coming to view the property. The offer, in my opinion, was weak to start with. The property was listed at $569,000 and this “buyer” was offering well under the asking price in a hot local market with strong competition. I discounted the offer from the beginning.
Here is what Ken Chin wrote via email about his intended purchase:
I am currently on an oil rig in the coast of South Asia as I would call you as soon as I get to shore.
However, my contact information is;
Home Address: Chiba-ken Ichikawa-si Tajiri 3-8-14-801
Telephone number: 047-700-4444
Below are my terms;
I would like to close early December (2013)
I would like the contract in my name only, i.e Ken Chin
I would like an inspection but it would not be contingent to the purchase.
I would like an appraisal on the property.
I would deposit $20,000 for the property.
FYI I have attached a scanned copy of my bank statement for the purchase would be a cash buy.
I hope the above information meet you well as I await the offer document to review in accord.
I ended up sending him an offer to fill out and he never got back to me. Figured it was a scam and did some online research on the subject. Opened my eyes.
Rules to deal with the scammers:
*never accept personal or bank checks from someone who fits the profile .. must be wire transfer only
*someone who says they will buy a property “sight unseen” and for “all cash” is most likely full of sh*t and the deal is too good to be true
*any lead through Zillow.com, Realtor.com, Trulia.com, etc., should be thoroughly Googled if it fits this profile (maybe even if it does not)
*take a close look at the grammar and spelling within the email sent to you. Too many errors should give a heads up.
*read this entire article and leaf through the replies (there are over 200 now, still active too) from http://homesteadtitle.wordpress.com/2010/06/15/real-estate-scam-warning/
Be careful out there!
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