Real Estate Fraud
Given how complicated and time consuming buying a property and going through the conveyancing hoops can be, many could be forgiven for believing that once they have bought and paid for their property that it is completely safe. Sadly, this is not the case and every year a lot of people find themselves the victims of fraud, with their property having been sold behind their backs by criminals. A couple of recent cases came to light by chance. There was once when the owners enquired why their rental payments had ceased, and another when a document was fortunately sent to the owner by post, not email, with the transaction almost completed. Others are not so fortunate, only finding out that their property has gone after the money has vanished, leaving them with massive losses and serious looming legal fees.
Those involved with property fraud often use sophisticated and genuine looking, but in truth, scam emails to property owners overseas, requesting various forms along with passport copies and mortgage account numbers to be returned to them. When they subsequently contact real estate agents to sell the properties, they appear to be the legitimate owner, having the correct identification and details.
Fraudsters may also acquire fake birth certificates, or other identification, which only need to look genuine as solicitors will normally view them and take them at face value. Never release your identity details and documents to anyone you do not 100% trust and ensure you have placed security checks to ensure you are always contacted in person regarding your property.
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Inflating prices is a scam which hits many families, who often only realise that they have been conned some years down the road. Beware of exclusive or “industry only” offers, which are in truth actually priced way above true market value, but leave the buyer thinking they are getting a special deal. Things to look out for are claims which appear too good to be true, one stop shops with everything offered under a single roof, as independent advice is always important, and overly slick and pushy salespeople. Check other property prices in the area and be highly suspicious of rental guarantees offered for a short period only, or incomes above that which seems normal.
Buying a property is an expensive thing to do, and the temptation to save money wherever possible can be tempting. People concerned about conveyancing costs in Brisbane, or in Sydney should only talk to reliable professionals. Some trust one stop shops to do things as part of a “special” deal, though this is generally a mistake. You need to make sure that the conveyancing is completed in such a way that you have true title to the property, and have legal recourse, should something go wrong.
Be highly suspicious of any unsolicited invitation to investment seminars or chance of a lifetime deals, whether they be by mail, email or phone. Some of them even use emotive language such as retirement security, your children’s future, or wealth creation. Scammers know how to be very emotionally persuasive and can make their ideas seem perfect for you. Often in truth, many will turn out to be nothing more than a con, which will reduce your savings not increase them, by having you invest at a grossly inflated price in something which makes them money, not you.
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Never rush into anything. Do everything strictly by the book, and make extensive independent checks before agreeing to anything.