Just imagine this unfortunate but true nightmare scenario: a man in Charlotte, NC, had his $300,000 home sold out from underneath him for a mere $9,000 when perpetrators forged his name on a quit claim deed. The shocked homeowner only became aware of the situation when the ‘new’ owners came to his house and changed the locks!
Fraudulent listings for sale or rent play an active role in housing fraud. DomiDocs HomeLock™ proactively protects properties from deceitful activity by utilizing the most comprehensive security and monitoring technology available today by seeking out third-party listing sites and checking official records to alert you before any damage can be done.
Think it can’t happen to you? You may want to think again.
Documented police cases of housing fraud in North Carolina alone range from the example above to a multi-million dollar mansion in nearby lakeside Davidson. In these cases, criminals simply forged deed signatures at the courthouse giving them complete access and ownership of the properties. It’s then up to the no doubt frustrated and angry homeowners to try and prove they are the legitimate owners!
Fraudulent listings seem to regularly appear on Craigslist and other similar sites where a scam artist hijacks a listing for an already advertised home for sale or rent. They scrape the ad using the same photos, sometimes adding elaborate stories, while offering the property up at a seemingly unbelievable low price. This can obviously trigger an incredible amount of interest from potential buyers and renters, while the crook simply waits to collect money through damage deposits and rent for a property they’re not even legally associated with. Homeowners and potential residents are left in confusion and with lighter pockets.
The use of fake ads is an especially prevalent scam targeting empty vacation homes as homeowners may only visit their property a few times a year so they don’t know it’s being occupied by someone else in their absence. This is a good time to ask your neighbors to alert you to any unusual activity near your vacation home. Again, it could cost thousands of dollars if not more to prove you’re the rightful homeowner instead of an unethical crook.
According to the Consumer Information division of the Federal Trade Commission, there are also rental listings for homes that don’t even exist or are not for rent. Many times they’ll offer great locations, amenities, and/or inexplicably low rental prices. The goal of the scammer is to get someone excited about the property and to take their money before they figure out the listing isn’t real. And yes, this could even apply to the current home you’re living in now.
Are You Selling Your Home
Another version of fraudulent listings can occur when you’ve listed your home for sale with a realtor or entrusted your property to be managed by a 3rd party. Your home is now an easy target because the listing contains everything an unsavory criminal needs to know to then advertise your home as a rental property with the goal of stealing deposits/rental money from unsuspecting renters. Some tricksters will even go as far as to put ‘for rent’ signs on the front lawns of properties that are actually for sale, and if questioned, they’ll respond that the real estate company is no longer representing the owner and the sign is yet to be removed.
Do your due diligence by proactively protecting your home from unscrupulous activity with HomeLock™, the most advanced home title tracking and digital property monitoring available. HomeLock™ provides complete fraud monitoring along with alerts if there’s an unpaid bill, a missed payment, or a county clerical error. As an added bonus, HomeLock™ includes our award-winning homeowner management platform where you’ll find easy-to-use home finance and management tools.