Property buyers have been swindled out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in recent years by scammers who use counterfeit documents to sell undeveloped Florida land that they do not own. When questioned about the fraud, a U.S. Secret Service special agent said property sale scams are especially common in Florida because of the state’s abundance of undeveloped land. The schemes are characterized by sellers who want to complete deals quickly using electronic means of communication and payment.
The scammers who operate these schemes scour county records looking for undeveloped lots that are not already on the market. They then contact real estate agents and property buyers claiming to have land for sale. These fake sellers conduct business by email, and they offer very attractive prices to buyers who are willing to act quickly. Payment for the land is sent by wire transfer, and it is then transferred to accounts that scammers control. This is a form of wire fraud, which is the most common kind of real estate scam.
Avoiding land sale scams
Property buyers who wish to avoid land sale and other real estate scams should be wary of deals that seem too good to be true and sellers who are reluctant to meet in person or speak on the phone. They should also ask plenty of questions, verify wiring instructions before sending any money and remain in close contact with title companies and real estate agents until their transactions are finalized.
Scammers succeed when their victims abandon caution because the deals they are offered are so attractive. If you want to avoid losing money in a fraudulent land transaction, you should perform thorough due diligence and work with experienced professionals. You should be particularly cautious if the price you are being offered seems unusually low and the seller is anxious to close the deal as quickly as possible.