There are more and more scams these days. They are using new technology and techniques to get us to fork over our hard-won dough.  Here below is a list of some common schemes, potential red flags, and tips to stay safe in today’s world.

As a legitimate business, we try hard to present ourselves in a trustworthy way so you can have confidence in booking with us. OTA’s say that you can get ripped off by a smaller operator but you are actually more likely to encounter fraud on their platforms. The scammer knows that an OTA has a lot more potential scam victims than just a lone operator does. The OTA stands alone and you have to trust them since the guest cannot communicate with the host directly. These tips are for when you decide to #bookdirect in order to save the fees and have a more direct and personal experience. See our article on #bookdirect and its advantages.

Scams Related to Real Estate

  • Fake sellers and landlords  Someone poses as the owner of a property to fraudulently sell or list it for rent.
  • False documents, applications, or contracts — People forging documents, agreements, and applications, such as identification documents and commission advance applications. They may also create false emails, websites, and phone numbers to control all means of communication.
  • Renting a fictitious property – Check the address and then google map it. Check the reviews. Is there a separate website for the property? Are they listed on several OTA websites?

General Scams

  • Wire fraud — Typical wire fraud can involve a scammer hacking the email of a party in a transaction and creating a fake email address. Then, the scammer provides the buyer with wiring instructions, directing them to place the funds into that account. Funds are then wired directly to the scammer. Always call the other party to the wire and confirm the account and routing number.
  • Fake IRS, State or Federal Agent – This one tricked several of my friends. A person calls you on the phone. Typically they say that your bank account has been compromised. They start requesting you buy gift cards to prove you are who you are. They then get you to tell them the gift card numbers. Typically they will not let you off of the phone even as you drive around buying the cards. They also tell you not to tell anyone else.

Possible Red Flags*

  • Person will only communicate online and avoids in person meetings.
  • Person will not use Zoom, Facetime or other video teleconferencing.
  • Person does not have a full suite of identifying information. Full Name, Address, Facebook page, Linked in, Instagram
  • Person is unable to provide identification/ makes excuses.
  • Address is sketchy and perhaps even a Vacant lot. Double check addresses by Googling the address using Google Maps.
  • Person is in a hurry to complete transaction/ puts pressure on receiving money.
  • The terms seem too good to be true or even simply just good. Bernie Madof promised 10% returns, not outrageous but still a bit too good.
  • Any incoming email or phone call should be viewed with suspiscion.
  • Name is a little off; examples are Robin Sherwood , Robert Michael, Murphy John


  • Stay educated on typical fraud schemes.
  • Trust your intuition if any of the details seem off.
  • Use complex passwords
  • Store them in a password App such as Lastpass, One Password etc..
  • Enable two-factor authentication for emails.
  • Be thoughtful about what you post publicly or on social media, as it is an easy way for scammers to find information.
  • If your spidey sense is tingling then trust it. Ask for more confirming information.
  • Ask to see the ID of the person and then a picture of them standing next to the property.

This information is provided for educational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or representation and should not be relied upon as such. Broward, Palm Beaches & St. Lucie Realtors® cannot provide legal advice or opine about the specifics of your situation.