Real Estate Trust Account Scam

OnlineEd

(OnlineEd) – Numerous real estate brokers have reported receiving emails and phone calls from a person out-of country who claims to need assistance with an all-cash real estate purchase. The caller may also insist on the need to retain a lawyer with a trust account, and requests a referral. The real estate broker or referred lawyer soon receives a substantial check (reports are from $150,000 to $500,000) to be deposited into the broker or lawyer trust account.  Soon thereafter another call is received from a person purporting to be the attorney for the original caller. This attorney says that the funds were sent out of country without appropriate government authority and must be immediately returned in order to avoid sanctions and penalties. The holder of the funds (in this case the real estate broker or attorney) is pressed to wire the money without delay (before the original check has cleared the bank). The check from the caller never clears because it is fradulent and the owner of the trust account is out the wired money.