Last year, online crimes related to real estate experienced an uptick of 64% according to the FBI. The total impact of these crimes totaled more than $350.3 million, and victims included both landlords and tenants in the rental market, those selling property and those looking to purchase a property. Massachusetts residents in any of these positions should keep an eye out for the following scams as they look to do business in the current market.
- False rental ads: With this scam, renters are typically lured in with an appealing online advertisement, often listing a lower-than-average rent. Potential tenants, eager to secure the property at the under-market cost, will then be asked to send a deposit to the supposed landlord. The best way to avoid these scams is to be vigilant and to not send payments for properties until they have been toured and the landlord has been met.
- Posing as a professional online: This entails a scammer posing as a real estate agent online, typically by creating fake profiles or websites using an actual agent’s identity. They will then use this fake identity to illicit deposits or other transactions from the unknowing seller or buyer.
- Lying about the interest in a property: Sellers can sometimes try to scam prospective buyers by lying about the amount of interest a home has had in hopes of encouraging a quicker or higher bid. Overselling and adding pressure based on falsehoods in this way can be considered fraudulent.
Scams involving dishonesty or high-pressure tactics on the part of buyers and sellers can cause significant financial turmoil. Those who are desperate to sell or buy can become particularly vulnerable to such scams. To avoid getting scammed by way of a misleading contract, false information on the property’s zoning or other key issues, it can be extremely helpful to work with an experienced Massachusetts real estate lawyer.