Our state’s hot real estate market is bringing great opportunity, unfortunately, to some scammers.
Earlier this month, The News Tribune reported on a phony loan officer ruse. This time, it’s a fake escrow scheme. In both cases, individuals were asked to wire money.
In the latest case, a Washington consumer lost more than $30,000.
According to the state Department of Financial Institutions, the consumer was called and told someone wanted to buy the victim’s land. The caller claimed to work with Resort Closing Inc., and said that entity would close the sale.
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(DFI points out the outfit should not be confused with Resort Closings Inc., which is licensed in Montana, or Resort Closing Network LLC, which is registered with the Florida Secretary of State.)
According to the agency: “Resort Closing Inc is not licensed by DFI or otherwise authorized to perform escrow services in Washington state.”
The victim was told to wire money to individuals in Largo and Lakeland, Florida.
The consumer wired money more than 70 times over several months, according to DFI, with the total adding up to more than $30,000.
In a follow-up interview with The News Tribune, DFI said that in many cases, victims are strung along with fake documents sent to indicate the process advancing, as the scammers press for more money.
The department would not disclose what the actual conversations were in this case.
“There is no evidence that the land sale was real or that the individuals involved in the scam actually worked with an escrow agent,” DFI said in its Friday news release detailing the case. “The consumer has not recovered his money,”
The state urges consumers to be on the lookout for these phone numbers, which appear to be associated with this case:
You can verify an escrow agent at http://www.dfi.wa.gov/and click “Verify a License.”