5 Common Real Estate Scams and How to Avoid Them

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5 Common Real Estate Scams, and How to Avoid Them

By David McMillin | March 30, 2022

Whether you’re buying, renting or refinancing the mortgage on a home, the last thing you want to worry about is being scammed. Unfortunately, criminals are getting more creative in how they target consumers. In 2021 alone, more than 11,578 victims reported instances of real estate or rental fraud, according to data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.

Here are five common real estate and mortgage scams to keep on your radar — and tips to avoid becoming a scammer’s next victim.

1 | Escrow Wire Fraud

Here’s how it works: You get an email, phone call or text from someone purporting to be from the title or escrow company with instructions on where to wire your escrow funds. Fraudsters set up fake websites that appear similar to the title or lending company you’re working with, making it seem like the real deal. Scammers use spoofing tactics to make phone numbers, websites and email addresses appear familiar. But in these cases, one number or letter is often off — an easy thing to miss at first glance, explains Melinda Opperman, chief relationship officer at Credit.org, a nonprofit credit counseling agency.

If you blindly follow the wire instructions and assume all is well, you may find that you’ve just become the latest victim of escrow fraud. The scammers? They’ve withdrawn the funds from an offshore account somewhere and are sailing into the sunset with your hard-earned money. Meanwhile, you have few options for retrieving it.


How to Protect Yourself

Before you send money to a third party, go back to the original documents you received from your lender and call the phone numbers listed there to verify the wiring instructions you received. Never click on email or text links, or send money online, without verifying wire instructions with a live person on the phone from a number that you’ve called and verified, says Opperman.

Be wary of any email or text requesting a change to wiring instructions you already have, adds Odeta Kushi, deputy chief economist with First American Financial Corporation. Always confirm the escrow account number before wiring money, and call your settlement agent to verify the transfer of the funds immediately after you’re done, she says.

Continue reading article: https://www.bankrate.com/mortgages/avoid-real-estate-scams/

Bourbon Balls

Total Time: 2 hours 30 mins | Yields: 24-28
2 cups raw unsalted pecans
2 cups (about 36) vanilla wafers
1 cups powdered sugar
6 tbsp. (3 oz.) bourbon whiskey
2 tbsp. maple syrup
2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/3 cups decorative sparkling sugar

Preheat oven to 350°. Spread pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until fragrant and golden in the center, 7 to 9 minutes. Let cool.

In a food processor, pulse toasted pecans and vanilla wafers until they’re the texture of coarse bread crumbs (a few larger chunks of pecans are okay). Add powdered sugar, bourbon, maple syrup, cocoa, and salt and process until combined. Transfer bourbon ball mixture to a medium bowl; cover and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

Pour decorative sugar into a small flat container. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Using a tablespoon measuring spoon, portion and roll balls to 1" in diameter. Roll balls in decorative sugar, gently pressing so sugar adheres, and arrange on prepared sheet.

Refrigerate bourbon balls at least 1 hour to set up.  


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