Don’t Lose Your Identity While Buying or Renting a Loft – Avoid Real Estate Fraud and Identity Theft

HEY YOU — WANT $6 MILLION?

Real Estate News (Downtown Los Angeles) April 24, 2017  —  Here are two recent stories of how two innocent persons, both eager to move to Downtown L.A., lost their money and their identities when trying to move to Downtown L.A. One was a renter, and the other a prospective home buyer.  #dtla #fraud

Real Estate Fraud Fake Check

Here’s $6 million for your free luxury condo — NOT!

The first was a young lady named Diane who was looking for a good deal on Craigslist. Upon finding what she thought was the perfect deal, a 1,200 sq ft 2 bedroom 2 bathroom sky loft with amazing panoramic views, modern gourmet kitchen and large bathrooms and closets with many upscale designer touches — all for only $980 per month.  She had to

Craigslist rental fraud

Craigslist rental fraud

have it quick before someone else took it.  She filled out the online application.  Diane never heard back from the property owner, except by an unlisted text phone number responded with text messages encourageing Diane to submit her application along with her personal information such as name, address and social security number. Weeks later, Diane still never heard back, and the text phone number was no longer responding to her messages. A few months later, Diane learned that her credit was bad because there were unauthorized charges and new unauthorized credit cards. Her identity had been stolen.  After many hours and months of work, Diane has still not cleared up her bad credit caused by the identity theft.

While renters are the most likely targets of fraudsters, they are the only victims. Home buyers can be attached, often with larger losses. Here’s how a prospective home buyer lost everything just last week:

Peter is a friendly, caring, honest and trusting 50 year old man wth long-term health issues that are under control. He ran into an old friend a couple months ago.  The old friend, going be the name Andrew Christian, told Peter that Andrew was was recently diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and needed to spend his millions of dollars of trust funds right away before he passed away and before his antagonistic parents took away his access to the funds. Peter was concerned about Christian’s supposed terminal illness and trusted that Christian really was going through these issues. Peter believed that Christian was telling the truth when Christian offered to help Peter buy a nice home for himself so that Christian could enjoying spending his trust fund money in a way that he found satisfying in his final days on this planet. This trust was tragically misplaced.

At first, Peter was stunned and delighted when they got into escrow with an amazing $1.4 million dollar luxury high-rise condominium in a vibrant neighborhood of Los Angeles. When Christian began to ask for small amounts of money and use of Peter’s credit card to help prevent Christian’s meddling parents and beaurocratic trust officers from catching word and interfering with their benevolent plans, Peter complied. After all, they were in escrow with a fantastic property that would be in Peter’s name, and Christian said he would also pay for 1 year of HOA dues plus extra money for taxes, insurance and miscellaneous expenses so that Peter would not need to worry about anything financially. On top of that, Christian had already handed Peter a check for $2.6 million dollars, to be used at the end of escrow. While Peter had not driven for years, he received a new car from Christian. Christian had really given Peter a much to be hopeful for. So he thought.

Fraud and Identity Theft in Downtown Los Angeles

Fraud and Identity Theft in Downtown Los Angeles

In the mean time, they had found an experienced Downtown real estate professional to help with the purchase of the property. The agent believe that the stories could be true because Peter had known Christian for 30 years and trusted him. After escrow reported that the earnest money deposit was never received, the agent notified Peter and Christian of this problem.  Christian always had answers to everything: the trust funds and trust officers had a lot of rules an bureaucracy to deal with. Compounding the problem, the seller was particularly eager to work with the buyer because the comps were only about $1,200,000 yet the accepted offer was substantially higher than that. The listing agent was so excited that he failed to notify the seller that the earnest money deposit was never received by escrow, a major violation of agent fiduciary responsibility. Then, after Christian began to ask the buyer’s agent for assistance in the form of cash and credit card use for Christian’s hotel, the buyer’s agent notified Peter that the behavior of Christian looked very suspicious, and appeared to match that of common fraud schemes — an offer that is too good to be true, combined with a request for cash, credit cards or personal information to make the fantasy deal come true. This fantasy turned into a nightmare. Peter informed his agent that Christian had been engaging in the same suspicious behaviors with Peter, and that Christian and Peter really did not know each other that well. By the time the buyer’s agent and Peter reported Christian’s behavior to the police (the police were reluctant to even take a police report because fraud is so difficult to prove), the helpful buyer’s agent was out more than $1,000, and Peter had given Christian everything he owned — many thousands of dollars — plus racked up thousands more on Peter’s credit cards. On top of that, at least 2 more victims were known to have been taken. Probably many more. Checks and earnest money deposit given by Christian all ended up being fakes. The fantastic gift of a new car turned out instead to be a rental that was placed on Peter’s credit card without Peter’s knowledge. Peter’s gifted new car turned out to be a stolen car on Peter’s own credit card.

These fraud cases are painful yet excellent reminders that, if something seems to good to be true, it probably is. This especially rings true when a deal is offered to a renter or buyer that does not match the local market conditions, and comes with strings attached in the form of cash, credit cards or personal information.  Buyer’s agents and listing agents have a duty to inform and warn their clients when earnest money deposits are not made on time, and when other suspicious and problematic issues occur. Buyers and renters must always be suspicious and ask many extra questions with they are not paying a market price for a home. Never give money, credit cards or personal information to anyone who is offering an special deal out of the blue.

Downtown Los Angeles is the most exciting place on earth, and, with homeless, lawsuits, loft lending problems etc, DTLA has more than its shares of dangers and pitfalls. Fortunately, these problems can all be avoided with the right information. Get a free list of 6 mistakes to avoid in Downtown Los Angeles real estate. Fill out the online form:

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Copyright © This free information provided courtesy L.A. Loft Blog and LAcondoInfo.com with information provided by Corey Chambers, Realty Source Inc, BRE#01889449 We are not associated with the homeowner’s association or developer. For more information, contact (213) 880-9910 or visit LAcondoInfo.com  Licensed in California. All information provided is deemed reliable but is not guaranteed and should be independently verified. Properties subject to prior sale or rental. This is not a solicitation if buyer or seller is already under contract with another broker.

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Your Loft Sold GUARANTEED or I'll Buy It* Corey Chambers, REALTOR® (213) 880-9910 corey@laloft.org http://www.LAloftBlog.com *by the end of the listing term at a price acceptable to the seller. Realty Source Inc. BRE#01889449
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