REAL ESTATE AGENTS BECOMING PAWN IN SCAM ON ATTORNEY TRUST ACCOUNTS
Real Estate Agents and Brokers should be aware of a scam in which they are being unknowingly recruited. It involves fake cashier’s checks from what seems like a qualified buyer and an easy and fat commission check. The buyer finds the real estate agent for the purchase of a home and is asked to refer the financially qualified buyer to an attorney whom the real estate agent recommends for the purpose of purchase of a home.
The qualified buyer is using the name(s) of real people, mostly in the United Kingdom. Two of the recent names being used are Dr. Timothy Perrin, an Oncologist in Leeds, England, and Dr. Andrew Cowley, a Pediatrician in Wales. It is unlikely these people have anything to do with this scam. Other names could be used.
Once the qualified buyer or his financial go-between has the attorney’s contact information, he often asks for a retainer agreement, and sends a check (usually a Cashier’s check mailed from Canada) for the entire purchase price, or more. The buyer asks that the attorney deposit the check into his or her trust account immediately, and let him know when it has been deposited. Sometimes he talks about his pregnant wife.
If the attorney follows these release of funds instructions, the buyer will then manufacture a reason why all or part of the money should be wired to an account in a foreign bank, usually in Asia. A few days or weeks later, the attorney will be notified by his or her bank that the check was fake, and their trust account is now short by hundreds of thousands of dollars.
My alert staff stopped a fraud exactly like this one described which came as a referral from one of my ActiveRain referral brokers. It is a lesson learned for both of us. Fortunately we saw this for what it was. The Dr. Crowley was the buyer. He “disappeared” when we received a cashier’s check for about a quarter million dollars and I wrote to the buyer saying we don’t accept a cashier’s check for current closings – we only accept wires. I gave him the choice of my depositing the check but we would have to wait 21 days for it to clear, or returning the check and getting a wire. Amazingly the buyer never contacted me again and here I am with this big cashier’s check. YOU’D THINK HE WOULD WANT HIS $250,000 BACK!!!!!! yeah, sure !!! Don’t worry – I don’t expect to have a big party with the abandoned money.
Don’t be part of this “too eager a buyer to be true” scenario and be sure to alert your “referred to” attorney of these issues.
Copyright 2011 Richard P. Zaretsky, Esq.
Be sure to contact your own attorney for your state laws, and always consult your own attorney on any legal decision you need to make. This article is for information purposes and is not specific advice to any one reader. Richard Zaretsky, Esq., RICHARD P. ZARETSKY P.A. ATTORNEYS AT LAW, 1655 PALM BEACH LAKES BLVD, SUITE 900, WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA 33401, PHONE 561 689 6660 RPZ99@Florida-Counsel.com – FLORIDA BAR BOARD CERTIFIED IN REAL ESTATE LAW – We assist Brokers and Sellers with Short Sales and Modifications and Consult with Brokers and Sellers Nationwide! Shortsales@Florida-Counsel.com Website www.Florida-Counsel.com.