Realtors, title companies and lot owners should be keenly aware of a current common scam involving illegally and fraudulently selling lots away from unknowing owners.
The Cape Coral Police Department has received numerous complaints of title fraud occurring or being attempted. The scam has shown that suspects are compromising the identities of the legitimate landowners and attempting to sell real property in Cape Coral. These reports have primarily affected victims living out of the country, but have also affected landowners living domestically. These scammers are providing fraudulent documents as identification to impersonate legitimate owners.
Many of the complaints have been related to vacant, unimproved lots located in various sections of the City.
Throughout the numerous investigations, our detectives have been able to develop similar trends in each of the listings and subsequent closing transactions.
Here are some things Cape Coral Police Detectives recommend realtors and title companies look out for when being contacted to sell properties:
- The scammers want a valuation of the property and express a desire for a quick sale and closing
- The scammers are asking realtors to list the property below market value
- The scammers are only communicating via text messaging or email, and are typically “unavailable” by telephone
- The scammers are usually unable to answer questions related to the property, such as assessments paid, seawall, or other improvements.
- Scammers may say they live in one country and have documents “notarized” from another country; the scammers may give wire instructions to an account in a third country different from the previous two
- Check the documents the seller provides for authenticity
- Foreign-based notarization should include Apostle to help verify legitimacy of identification
- Try to contact the real owners utilizing information from the previous purchase
- Verify IP addresses used to electronically sign documents (examples: DocuSign, DotLoop, or other similar products) and see if the IP address matches the location of the seller
If you have any questions or believe that you may have been scammed, please email our Financial Crimes Unit at email@example.com.