How to Avoid Real Estate Rip Offs
It's a shame that in this day and age there are still criminals and con artists who prey on innocent victims. Fox10 News and several news stations recently reported that the Phoenix police are on the hunt for thirty-one year old Alfredo Juarez Gandarilla for real estate fraud. Gandarilla would allegedly help victims find a home they wanted, request a cash down payment up front, and then disappear with the money. Sadly, police say there have been at least eight victims who paid out $1,500 to $11,000. Anyone who thinks they were a victim or know about suspect Alfredo Juarez Granadilla, should call Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS. When it comes to purchasing an Arizona home or renting a Phoenix property management home, it's important that you know what you're looking for and keep an eye out for red flags. Here are some tips on how to avoid real estate rip offs.
The con: This is alarmingly common real estate fraud makes victims of both homeowners and renters. Con artists find homes that will be abandoned for an extended period of time to rent out or sell to unsuspecting renters and buyers. The properties can be anything from a seasonal vacation home, a foreclosed property, or belong to owners who are on extended work leave such as active military duty. Swindlers can break into the home, show the property, forge false contracts, and take down payments or rental deposits with a promise to provide keys to the victim. Unfortunately, when the victims show up on moving day, the criminal is nowhere to be found. Or worse, they're given keys to a place they later find out is owned by the bank.
Protect yourself: Phoenix property management companies recommend that you always ask for ID and references for any real estate agent you deal with. Be sure to check them out online to make sure they're a legit agent and verify the phone number you've been provided with is a real number to a business.
The con: The number one goal of a criminal is to get away with your money as quickly and as cleanly as possible. This means they'll usually request funds for their properties to be paid in cash or to be wired to an undisclosed location since it's harder to trace these payment methods and allows them a faster getaway. When fraudulent for sale or rental properties are listed online, they're typically advertised way below market value to attract more interest. Then, criminals impersonating the land lord, Phoenix property manager, or agent will respond to emails and calls to lure in prospective tenants. If they find a desperate enough buyer or renter who will take a place sight unseen that's when they've got you hooked. Once they've got a victim or sometimes even several victims, they'll request funds be wired to secure the property. However, once the victim arrives to move in they'll find the home is already occupied or that the listing was never really legitimate. And when they try to contact the “agent” or try and retrieve their money, the frauds are long gone.
Protect yourself: When it comes to renting or buying a property, always avoid using cash or wiring money. You want to pay in a way that can be more easily traced should something go wrong. Also, never take ownership of a property you've not first seen, no matter how desperate or quickly you need to get into a home. Even if you're making your move from out of town, you should always make the time to view the property and meet with the landlord or agent prior to move in.
One of the top mistakes victims and uninformed buyers make is believing something like this could never happen to them. There are professional criminals out there that make it their business to con even the smartest potential buyers and renters. If you think you're being too cautious by researching and protecting yourself, you're wrong. Better to take the extra time to make sure you're making a legitimate transaction than to lose your hard earned money to a swindler.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of real estate fraud there is something you can do. Online cons can be reported on the FBI website and rental listing scams can be reported on the Federal Trade Commission website. It's important to not only protect yourself and your loved ones, but to also help protect others from real estate rip-offs by reporting offenders. The more awareness is spread about a swindlers scheme, the less chance they'll have to take advantage of someone else. Don't be afraid to step up and share what you know.
Simply Property Management – Paielli Realty, Inc.
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