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Foreign buyer sets off scam alert

Last week I had a person contact me about buying a high-end home I recently listed. The “man” was from Dubai and wanted to offer almost asking price for the home site unseen! He wanted me to do up an offer right away for him to sign. He was going to put $12,500 earnest money down. He and his wife would be arriving in the U.S. next month and wanted to close on the home the middle of January and the sale would be a cash deal. He even attached a bank statement revealing his millions of dollars.

Total cake sale! Uh-huh…

Just remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Of course, I didn’t fall for it. Nothing about it seemed right. Instead of calling my seller with the fabulous deal that had just been offered, I called my broker. Come to find out another agent/broker in Keller Williams had the same deal on another high-end home she had listed. And the scammer used the same name, contact info and letter with poor grammar.

After some research, I think this is the scam and here's how it works as outlined on

The buyer signs an offer to purchase remotely from China (or England or Canada) and then sends in the earnest money to either the REALTOR or the attorney. The earnest money check will be far larger than the customary amount — it may even be for the entire purchase price. Oops. And some cases, the buyer will also send another check for a hundred thousand dollars or more. OOPS again! But then, after the checks have been deposited, the buyer will request that the excess funds be returned via wire or Western Union. Even if the funds appear to have cleared or been credited to the REALTOR or Attorney account, the check will bounce. The wire goes to a foreign bank and is gone forever.

In this case the 'purchase' was from Dubai, U.A.E.

When I had explained to him in depth, twice, that his earnest money would be held by a title company and not me or the brokerage I am with, Keller Williams Capital Realty, he fell off the grid.

Surprise, Surprise!

I know most real estate professionals will not fall for this scam, but there must be some that do, otherwise criminals like this wouldn’t be wasting their time.

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