Consumer Fraud Alerts
Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC knows you work hard for your money. That is why we want to provide you with some tips that may help you avoid being scammed.
IMPORTANT NOTICE TO PROSPECTIVE HOMEBUYERS AND TENANTS REGARDING FRAUDULENT BANK WIRING INSTRUCTION SCHEMES
Recently, there have been increased reports across the nation of a theft scheme that involves hackers stealing email addresses and sending fraudulent wiring instructions to homebuyers and tenants. REALTORS®, lawyers, title agents and buyers could be affected. The criminal scheme has many variations and this notice is not intended to describe each situation. As an actual or prospective buyer or tenant, we want to alert you to the situation so that you can minimize the risk that you could be a victim.
We strongly recommend that before you wire any funds to any party (including your own lawyer, real estate broker or title agent whom you know to be involved in your transaction) that you personally call them to verify the wire instructions (you should confirm the ABA routing number or SWIFT code and the credit account number). You should call them at a number that you have obtained on your own (e.g., the sales contract, their website, etc.) and should not use the phone number that is contained in any email - even if the email appears to be from someone you know. A common aspect of the scheme involves the criminal hacking the sender's email (unbeknownst to them) and sending you an email that looks like other legitimate emails you have received from that party. The email contains the criminal's wire instructions and may contain the criminal's phone number and once your funds are wired by your bank to the criminal's account there may be no way to recover those funds.
PLEASE EXERCISE CAUTION BEFORE WIRING FUNDS TO ANY PARTY
This Important Notice is not intended to provide legal advice. You should consult with a lawyer if you have any questions.
Coldwell Banker has recently become been made aware of a scam perpetuated through the telephone and through e-mails from the root "@coldwellbankerllc.com". Please be advised that Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC and coldwellbanker.com are not in any way connected to this solicitation which is in fact fraudulent. The scammers cold-call small businesses identifying themselves as representatives of "Coldwell Banker's Preferred Contractor" program (or something similar variations) offering the business to be their exclusive contractor in the area. They offer to include ads featuring the business on printed materials distributed by local Coldwell Banker agents and brokers. This is followed up by emails from the @coldwellbankerllc.com email addresses offering this deal "at no cost to Coldwell Banker", the only cost being the direct cost to the printer, New Horizon Concepts, which the business must is required to pay. We have identified the scammer is actually to be the printer and so just who pockets the money without delivering the goods. Regardless of whether the materials are actually printed, since this is a scam unaffiliated with Coldwell Banker, the materials are never distributed by Coldwell Banker agents and brokers as promised.
It has come to our attention that various Internet solicitations have appeared with increased frequency on such posting boards as Craigslist.com encouraging consumers to deposit escrow funds to secure an apartment via payment through Western Union payable to www.coldwellbanker.com. Please be advised that Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC and coldwellbanker.com are not in any way connected to this solicitation which is in fact fraudulent. Craigslist, Western Union and law enforcement are being advised.
Additionally, we have been made aware of an Advance Fee Scam involving the unauthorized use of a brand name such as the Coldwell Banker® brand name, website and email address.
The scammer lures the victim (e.g., a prospective tenant) by posting an offer of a high-standard apartment for low cost, even showing pictures of the apartment. The scammer uses online classified ad services such as craigslist.org to post such offers. The victim is told that the renter is "traveling," "vacationing abroad" or "relocating." The victim is required to pay a deposit via Western Union in exchange for the "keys" to the property. In an effort to instill confidence in this transaction, the scammer fraudulently claims to have listed the apartment with a local Coldwell Banker office and arranges for a fraudulent email notification posing as a Coldwell Banker representative (and using Coldwell Banker logos) to be sent to the victim. The scammer disappears once the deposit is received, leaving the prospective tenant defrauded.
Here are some tips to help you avoid such scams:
- KNOW THE PERSON YOU ARE SENDING MONEY TO - you receive an email from a Coldwell Banker Sales Associate with payment instructions, call the requesting office using the phone number located in our Office Search.
- CRAIGSLIST IS NOT INVOLVED IN ANY TRANSACTION, and does not handle payments, guarantee transactions or provide escrow services.
- USE CAUTION WHEN GIVING OUT FINANCIAL AND OTHER PERSONAL INFORMATION VIA EMAIL (bank account number, credit card number, social security number, etc.)
- AVOID DEALS INVOLVING SHIPPING SERVICES and know that ONLY A SCAMMER WILL "GUARANTEE" YOUR TRANSACTION.
- These types of scams often claim that an MTCN or confirmation code is needed before withdrawing your money - this is FALSE, once you've wired money, it is GONE.
- PROPERTY/APARTMENT LISTING MAY BE LOCAL, but landlord/owner is "travelling" or "relocating" and needs you to wire money to them abroad.
Most scams involve one or more of the following:
- Inquiry from someone far away, often in another country.
- Western Union, Money Gram, cashier's check, money order, shipping, escrow service, or a "guarantee."
- Inability or refusal to meet face-to-face before consummating transaction.
Who should you notify about fraud or scam attempts?
- FTC toll free hotline: 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357)
- FTC online complaint form (www.ftc.gov)
- Canadian PhoneBusters hotline: 888-495-8501
- Internet Fraud Complaint Center (www.ic3.gov)
- Non-emergency number for your local police department.
- The government agency in your country responsible for dealing with fraud
Thanks in advance.
Coldwell Banker Customer Care