Warning: Scam targeting realtors and title companies

Published: Oct. 11, 2022 at 8:06 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - A local realtor and title company have a warning about an apparent scam targeting their industry.

Local realtor Deborah Anderson said the buyer communicated only by email, and offered to pay cash on a million-dollar house. When asked to send $5500 for a deposit, he sent what he said was a $316,000 cashier’s check.

“It did not appear to be an official cashier’s check. It didn’t have a watermark or anything which they typically do,” Anderson said.

As expected, once the check was deposited, he said he needed his money back.

“I get an email telling me his wife doesn’t want to live in Lake Charles, she’s not happy with the purchase and she wants to live in Connecticut and he’s going to have to cancel the contract. So, it was all an attempt to get funds from a title company,” she said.

Luckily, Anderson and the title company averted the scam by refusing to move forward until the check clears. So far, it has not.

Besides the title company potentially losing money, Anderson said it’s important to catch for the homeowner’s sake too.

“If an offer is accepted then the property comes off the market into a pending stage. So, when the deal falls through it can come back on the market, but it can really hurt that property. It can stigmatize the property making people think there’s something wrong with it coming back on the market,” Anderson said.

She and Lexie Webre with Cypress Title want to alert others in their industry.

“We all need to just be on the lookout for shady behavior and people like this who are unfortunately trying to take advantage of the system and the market right now,” Webre said.

She added wire fraud is prevalent right now.

Anderson said another red flag is that the buyer said he would pay cash for a million-dollar house. She said while it does happen, it’s rare.