How to Avoid Online Real Estate Scams

by Isaac Benmergui, Esq on August 8, 2017

online real estate scamsReal estate scams are happening all over South Florida. With a hot housing market, everyone is looking for a way in, and not everyone is stopping to ask, “Is this too good to be true?”

Most of the scams target out-of-towners looking to move who may not be able to come see the place in person first. Most begin with fake photos on listing sites like Craigslist, continue through conversations with a very responsive “landlord” online, and end when money is wired and the landlord goes dark.

Here’s how to protect yourself from real estate scams like this one.

  • Never wire money or use a prepaid card to put down a deposit. If you use a credit card, you can get that money back after you report the fraud. Wiring money is like sending cash—you’ll never see it again.
  • Verify the credentials of anyone you’re working with on real estate through the Better Business Bureau.
  • Insist on seeing the unit in person before you sign a lease or turn over money.
  • Do online searches for phone numbers or email addresses associated with online real estate ads. You may find the same exact listing pop up in other cities.
  • Be wary of amazing deals priced well below market value.
  • Scammers generally pretend to be overseas or out of town the entire time your dealing with them. That should be a red flag.

If you discover a fake listing, flag it or report it on the site it appears on. If you find yourself the victim of a real estate scam, report it to your local police department, the Federal Trade Commission, and the FBI’s Internet Crimes Complaint Center.

Call Miami Real Estate Lawyer Isaac Benmergui at 305.397.8547 and set up a no charge, no obligation consultation to discuss your case. We have over a decade of experience handling Real Estate and Civil Litigation cases throughout Miami and South Florida, and will use our expertise to help your case to the best of our abilities.

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