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Beware of Online Real Estate Scams

10Realty.com has taken safety measures to prevent scam e-mails from being delivered to our listings' e-mail boxes. For example, all e-mails from outside of the USA are automatically scanned and blocked by a filter. Please be AWARE, however, that as a seller, you will need to use your good judgment in deciding if the e-mails received are valid responses to your ads. If the e-mail sounds too good to be true, it most likely is. For example, it is not realistic to think someone wants to mail a cashier's check to you to buy your home just because they saw a picture of it online. NEVER send your personal, bank or mortgage information to anyone!

Warning for Sellers

  • Do not reply to emails from people located outside of the United States. They most likely are scam emails looking to scam you out of your money. You have no protection from the US government when dealing with non-US buyers. You are (to put it bluntly) SOL!
  • Most Cashier's Checks or money orders offered to sellers are counterfeit.
  • Do not accept or wire money anywhere, especially overseas via Western Union or Moneygram.
  • Never give out personal information to anyone! (i.e. bank name, account number, mortgage company info)

Is the email I received a scam?

Use caution when replying to email requests about your property for sale. If it looks suspicious, immoral or illegal, it probably is. You should definitely raise a red flag if...

  • The person sends you an email saying they want to "buy your house" without even seeing the home. (99% of buyers want to see the home or other real estate before making an offer)
  • The person is from a country other than the United States. (The majority of people who have tried to scam our listings are from Nigeria, with others from South Africa, UK, France and Italy.
  • The email mentions "depositing funds" or "certified cashiers check" before seeing your home
  • You do an Internet search on the phone number or email address they give you and it is the number to an Internet Cafe or other suspicious information turns up.
  • Some scammer's emails are so obviously incredulous that it's comical. For example, a son of a Great Chief is not going to be interested in your condo in Tampa.
  • Look out for emails that have the words: inheritance, prince, next of kin, sheik, great chief, international business tycoon.

Click here to see actual scam e-mails received

What if I receive an offer to buy my home...

If you received an email that may be a scam and you are tempted to respond to the offer, stop and ask yourself important questions:

  • Why would someone want to buy my home without ever seeing it?
  • Why would someone from a foreign country be interested in my home?
  • Why is this person asking for private information about me but asking nothing about the home?
  • Why would you share your personal or financial information with someone you don't know?

How can I protect myself?

  • Never, under any circumstances, give out personal or financial information it is not necessary until closing. For example if the person emailing you wants to know "whose name the ownership is in", "is there an insurance certificate", or "are you a US citizen", etc...
  • Know who you are dealing with confirm the buyer's name, street address, and telephone number. Do a search on the internet for the name and telephone number. You may find some revealing information from doing a quick search on Google, Yahoo or MSN.
  • Avoid any dealings with people from outside the United States.
  • You have extremely limited protection from fraud when dealing with persons of countries outside of the United States. These scammers know there will not be any legal action brought against them.
  • If you accept payment by check, ask for a check drawn on a local bank or a bank with a local branch. You can visit that bank branch to determine if the check is legitimate. FAKE CASHIER CHECKS and MONEY ORDERS are common and banks may unknowingly cash them and hold you responsible when the fake is discovered weeks later.
  • Never accept a check for more than your selling price. This is a definite scam! The buyer offers to pay more than the asking price and wants you, in return, to write a check for the difference. Their check will most certainly bounce and you will be out thousands of dollars.
  • Never agree to wire funds via Western Union, Moneygram or any other service. Never write a check to a buyer a legitimate buyer will not pressure you to do so, and you have limited recourse if there is a problem with a wire transfer.
  • Resist pressure to "act now."

Check Overpayment Scam

The "Check overpayment" scams target consumers selling their homes or other valuable property through classified ads or online auction sites. A potential buyer offers to buy the property with a cashier's check, then comes up with a reason for writing the check for more than the purchase price for the item. The scam artist will ask the seller to write a check or wire the "difference" in the purchase price.

Later, the scammer's cashier check bounces, leaving the seller with a big loss. The FTC says although the checks are counterfeit, they may look real enough to fool bank tellers.

Nigerian Scam

Many scams originate out of the country of Nigeria because the Nigerian Government does not actively enforce laws to prevent scam and when they do, the punishment is equal to a mere slap on the hand. Scamming is big business there! Many young internet savvy Nigerians have made it their "job" to steal money from niave Americans by scamming them.

The Nigerian Scam, also known as the Nigerian money transfer fraud, Nigerian advance-fee fee fraud, or 419 scam named after the Nigerian Criminal Code that it violates.

Consumers have told the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) they receive dozens of email offers politely promising big profits in exchange for help moving large sums of money out of their country. Many compassionate consumers continue to fall for the convincing sob stories, the extremely polite language, and the promise of receiving money.

» How the Nigerian scam works: The scammer claims to be either royalty, a government official, civil servant, doctor, banker, business person or the surviving spouse of one of the above. These con artists offer to transfer millions of dollars into your bank account in exchange for a small fee. If you respond to the initial offer, you may receive "official looking" documents. Typically, you're then asked to provide blank letterhead and your bank account numbers, as well as some money to cover transaction and transfer costs and attorney's fees. Inevitably, though, emergencies come up, requiring more of your money and delaying the "transfer" of funds to your account; in the end, there aren't any profits for you to share, and the scam artist has vanished with your money.

Contact the Federal Trade Commission

Consumers who have been victims of the check overpayment scam or other fraudulent activities should file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC):

  • FTC Hotline: 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357)
  • FTC online complaint form (www.ftc.gov)
  • Internet Fraud Complaint Center (www.ic3.gov/)

The people sending these emails are scam artists and will not think twice about scamming you out of your money, your home or your dignity. Please DO NOT REPLY to their emails. Use your common sense in deciding if an email is legitimate or not.

Consumers who have been victims of the check overpayment scam or other fraudulent activities should file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at www.ftc.gov

Please note that these scam responses are not unique to 10Realty.com. Any internet site with classified ads is a potential target especially sites with a high amount of traffic. 10Realty is not responsible for the outcome of any transactions due to advertising on www.10Realty.com. We advise you to use caution when replying to e-mails.

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