Skip to content
Land & New Construction

User Stats

2,492
Posts
4,514
Votes
Steve K.
  • Realtor
  • Boulder, CO
4,514
Votes |
2,492
Posts

Scamming Land Scammers Back

Steve K.
  • Realtor
  • Boulder, CO
Posted Mar 25 2024, 22:06

Alright BP brain trust, I need help coming up with ideas for how to get back at land scammers because there are so many right now they're driving me crazy. I sold a few land parcels in my area last year and ever since then I get a few calls a week from people impersonating the real owners of a property, trying to get me to list it for them. I'm getting good at sniffing them out thanks to these common red flags: they often have a foreign accent, they can't meet in person, they are looking for a quick cash sale so they're okay with me listing it below comps, don't want a "For Sale" sign placed at the property, etc. 

I usually just look up the real owner in public records, skip-trace their contact info, let them know someone is trying to use their land for a scam and offer to put a sign up at the property that says "NOT FOR SALE" (ironic for a real estate agent right?). Sometimes I can't get in touch with the real owner right away however so it can take up a bit of my time. While I'm waiting to get in contact with the real owner, I ask the "seller" for ID, a copy of the deed, etc. to vet them before wasting any more time. Lately I've even gotten convincing fake ID's and fake photos of the deed though and I even had to have my title company do an O&E on one property where I couldn't find the real owner anywhere and the scammer was pretty convincing. If you're not familiar with the scam I'm talking about, it's this one and it's super common right now: 

https://www.nar.realtor/magazine/real-estate-news/law-and-et...

Here are some other threads about it on here:

https://www.biggerpockets.com/forums/311/topics/1096347-sell...

https://www.biggerpockets.com/forums/530/topics/1124674-bewa...

Apparently these scammers are having some success. There was even a case a few years ago in CT where the buyer started building a house on the property and sold it again before the real owner found out it had been "sold": https://www.ctinsider.com/columnist/article/fairfield-real-e...

Title companies are catching on more now and are not allowing mobile notaries, do O&E's on any vacant land sales including a letter to the owner's primary address from public records, etc. but some of these are still going through with the money ending up being wired to various scammers. Since the scammers are overseas, authorities can't do much about it after the fact unfortunately. 

Anyway my question to you all, especially the criminal masterminds here on BP, is how can I really mess with these scammers? I have a phone number (nothing turns up when I use reverse phone look up obviously) and they all use an outlook email. I have some ideas like giving their number out to wholesalers or whoever texts me 10 times a day asking if I need help finding health insurance, but I'd love to hear your ideas as well. So far I have just been stringing them along asking them to complete or provide documents for me (sellers property disclosure, listing agreement, survey, etc.) and then I pretend I never got them and ask for those same documents again and again and again until they get annoyed and stop replying. How can I scam these scammers back good though? Any ideas?

User Stats

759
Posts
435
Votes
Bryant Brislin
Pro Member
  • Developer
  • Irvine, CA
435
Votes |
759
Posts
Bryant Brislin
Pro Member
  • Developer
  • Irvine, CA
Replied Mar 26 2024, 09:11

I'm a full-time land broker in California, and haven't come across this yet, but I'm very glad you put this out there, especially since many sellers don't really seem to want to meet any more ever since COVID, and especially the elderly sellers don't seem like they are dying to meet up with me, they just want the Docusign.  I think I've been doing this long enough to where I can sniff out a fake seller, plus I have a strong title background, but again, grateful to be informed about this!  While it's disgusting that "people" are doing this, I don't think I'd want to give them so much energy and time.  The problem is that these bad guys are always going to exist, it's like trying to kill ants during a really hot/dry season, there are just more and more of them, and while we need to stand up to them to a certain extent, I personally don't want to give them too much of my bandwidth, I feel the world needs our talents doing the stuff we are good at.

Cash Source Homes Logo

User Stats

2,492
Posts
4,514
Votes
Steve K.
  • Realtor
  • Boulder, CO
4,514
Votes |
2,492
Posts
Steve K.
  • Realtor
  • Boulder, CO
Replied Mar 26 2024, 11:54
Quote from @Bryant Brislin:

I'm a full-time land broker in California, and haven't come across this yet, but I'm very glad you put this out there, especially since many sellers don't really seem to want to meet any more ever since COVID, and especially the elderly sellers don't seem like they are dying to meet up with me, they just want the Docusign.  I think I've been doing this long enough to where I can sniff out a fake seller, plus I have a strong title background, but again, grateful to be informed about this!  While it's disgusting that "people" are doing this, I don't think I'd want to give them so much energy and time.  The problem is that these bad guys are always going to exist, it's like trying to kill ants during a really hot/dry season, there are just more and more of them, and while we need to stand up to them to a certain extent, I personally don't want to give them too much of my bandwidth, I feel the world needs our talents doing the stuff we are good at.

Yeah that’s the best advice, move on and spend as little time as possible on them. Watch out for this! I’m surprised you haven’t encountered any of these yet. We’ve been getting a ton of them here and there are “BEWARE, LAND SCAM, PROPERTY NOT FOR SALE” signs all around now. I’ve considered entering some of these into our MLS with this language in the listing description also, so any agent thinking that they have a real listing will see it, but that goes back to your point of not spending any more time than necessary on them and I’m also not sure if that would be allowed with our MLS since it’s the opposite of a listing lol. Scammers just annoy me. I talked to one for awhile yesterday before writing this post. 
BiggerPockets logo
BiggerPockets
|
Sponsored
Find an investor-friendly agent in your market TODAY Get matched with our network of trusted, local, investor friendly agents in under 2 minutes