youtube  facebook  linkedin  twitter fairHousewebsite  R blue whitewebsite

You are here: Home | Member News | Potential Scam

Potential Scam

The HIGH DESERT ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® to make you aware of a potential scam that will involve your agents and an attorney:scam

A person claiming to live in China will contact an agent and ask to purchase property in the area. The person will entice the agent with a request to write an offer and get the transaction open. They claim they will be in the U.S. for the closing. They also ask to recommend an attorney to assist with the review of documents and assist with the transaction. After they get a referral from the agent they will contact the attorney and state they were referred by the agent. They wil ask for help on the transaction. The attorney will probably ask for a retainer agreement and amount to be placed in trust with the attorney. After some prodding the person from China will have a check delivered to the attorneys’ office drawn on a British Columbia Bank and allegedly paid through Wells Fargo in the U.S.—a process used in the past and not used so much today because of wire transfers. The check will be for far more than the retainer and is allegedly for a deposit on the property. Here are some of the problems with this scenario:

1. The agents are being used to lend legitimacy to the scam. Agents are always hungry to sell property. Attorneys want to help agents they know.
2. These types of checks take 4 to 8 weeks to clear because they constitute international funds. The validity of the check is supported by a co-conspirator in Canada so calling on the check only furthers the scam. The check is not good, but can’t be verified for four to six weeks.
3. Such a check can be money laundering as it is money being brought into the United States in possible violation of currency laws.
4. The person from China will be asking that the attorney immediately deposit money in escrow or pay money to a new account for the benefit of the client, thereby using the attorney’s own fund rather than the funds the attorney thinks he or she is using.
5. When the check is deposited, the person in China now has the attorneys’ bank account information and can remove funds.
6. If an agent’s trust account is used instead the same thing can happen to the agent or broker.  

This information was provided to us by our Associations Legal Counsel, Thomas N. Jacobson

You are here: Home | Member News | Potential Scam