Jun

21

2010

Sarasota Real Estate SCAM – Beware Disgusting Scam Targeting Sellers!

Sarasota real estate scam forces sellers, closing agents & real estate agents to tighten standard operating procedure to STOP disgusting scam!

real estate scam Sarasota Real Estate SCAM   Beware Disgusting Scam Targeting Sellers!

<<<UPDATE 6/14/2011>>> Real estate agents, house sellers & title agents throughout the US have contacted me both privately and publicly, sharing their experience with (this) scam.

  • One email came from a lady who claimed they have LOST ~$6,000 to this scam. She claims they paid to move out of their home, expecting to sell. She paid movers, cleaners and a short-term leasing agent for the place they no longer need. Wow.
  • A couple emails allegedly have come from people identifying themselves as “closing agents” who (on condition of anonymity – I understand why) claim they violated their own policy by refunding escrow before clearing funds. If true, Ouch!
  • I’ve heard from MANY real estate agents whose quick thinking stopped this scam from wasting people’s time, energy & MONEY! One of those agents is Rich Vinesett of ReMax United in Cary, NC. Rich sent me a copy of a passport (see below) that the scammers provided him when Rich demanded proof of identification. Rich adds, “Notice the signature line in English looks nothing like Hirao Noriaki.”
hirao noriaki passport1 Sarasota Real Estate SCAM   Beware Disgusting Scam Targeting Sellers!

Is this the "real" Hirao Noriaki?

PLEASE inform everyone you know (including real estate agents, house sellers, real estate attorneys & title agents) to beware a real estate SCAM targeting HOUSE SELLERS throughout the United States.

What you are about to hear is a scam that could have been WORSE. In fact, in the past few hours I have received emails from realtors and closing agents admitting they too faced a similar scam.

SADLY, some of these real estate agents and closing agents admitted damage much, much worse than I faced. No doubt, these scammers really are causing damage beyond lost time & lost opportunity to sell at list price.

NOTICE: If you are out of the area (or country) and want to buy a Sarasota home for sale, for instance, PLEASE understand we must confirm you are legitimate before taking seriously your request to purchase. This is how it is now….

Last week, I received an email from a person identifying herself as an assistant to a person (buyer) identified as “Seiichiro Matsubayashi“. Here’s where the SCAM begins….

PLEASE click Read More below now to grab the rest of this shocking scam, already sucking in many real estate and closing agents, spitting out home sellers as well.

REAL ESTATE SCAM HITS SARASOTA COUPLE

Instantly, I recalled a businessman from Japan with Canadian ties named Seiichiro (same name as this person) whom I had helped purchase a property a few years ago in Orlando, Florida.

If not for this recollection, I would not have let down my guard. As it was, I let down my guard for just a second to a scammer also named Seiichiro Matsubayashi.

Mr. “M” Is Not “S. Matsubayashi”

I *THOUGHT* I was hearing once again from a legitimate buyer.

I *THOUGHT* I already had confirmed this Mr. M.

Therefore, I didn’t question my point of contact (an assistant to Mr. Matsubayashi), who informed me Mr. Matsubayashi requested I serve as his Sarasota Realtor with the following criteria:

  • Minimum 4 bedrooms, 2 baths
  • Private, safe neighborhoods
  • $400,000 – $500,000
  • Close quickly as possible

Clearly, the Mr. M. I had known (of) was a private or very busy person, who assigned an assistant to be my point of contact and who did NOT want (or plan) to SEE the property. It was sight unseen then as it was to be sight unseen this time as well.

Years ago, I never received much help from Mr. M’s assistant regarding what Mr. M. wanted, i.e. specific location & amenities. On price alone, I sent listings then as I did this time.

You see, I sincerely  *thought* I was dealing with a LEGITIMATE buyer (Mr. M) who this time wanted to buy a Sarasota home for sale.

I sent listings as requested. Within days (both times), I received an email pointing out a specific property and terms on which to submit an offer, similar to what you see below:

“Thanks so much for your email. I will like to offer $499,000.00 on MLS#A39xxxx  because I love the curb appeal of this property. Please send me the contract for me to sign and return immediately. This will be my retirement home and it will be a cash buy.
1. I will want to close on 8th July, 2010
2. I want to put down $5,000.00 Earnest money + $150,000.00 down payment towards home.
3. I want to put contingency on inspection on the contract.
4. Please include all requisite disclosures.

Obviously, I demanded proof of funds – which promptly arrived as an email attachment (see image below):

CIBC Proof Funds Sarasota Real Estate SCAM   Beware Disgusting Scam Targeting Sellers!

Bank statement "proves" legitimacy...right? Gotta love that nice round number ~ $3.4 MILLION in a "chequing" account icon smile Sarasota Real Estate SCAM   Beware Disgusting Scam Targeting Sellers!

And then I received the following information from this fraudster:

My legal name is Seiichiro Matsubayashi of 2000 Sheppard Avenue, Toronto Ontario Canada M3N 2J1. I will not be in Canada before the closing date to wire the funds to the closing attorney so I will advice (sic) you to send me the closing attorney information for a check to be drawn to give enough time for check clearance since I wont (sic) be in Canada to wire funds for closing.
Please forward me a purchase contract agreement in docusign format, docusign format is an electronic way of signing document.
My Canadian Rep Mr. Edward Brown Esq will Issue payment in US Funds $155,000.00USD for the earnest money and the down payment for the property payable to closing attorney, the check will deliver to the closing attorney.
My Rep Mr. Edward Brown Esq can be reach at:1-416-824-1768 Email: edbrown@lawyer.com
Please I need the following information for the closing attorney immediately at my own expense
Closing Law Firm Name……………………………………………
Law Firm Address……………………………………………….
Law Firm Telephone………………………………………………
Lawyer’s Name…………………………………………………..
Regards
Seiichiro Matsubayashi

From past recollection, Mr. “M” had presented a similar proof of funds. Keep in mind, all this time I’m associating this Seiichiro with a LEGITIMATE person who really closed on a property.

Anatomy Of A Scam!

Everything about this attempted transaction normally WOULD have set off alarm bells:

  1. Most buyers do NOT buy sight unseen.
  2. Most buyers provide detailed guidance regarding what they want in a house.
  3. Most buyers are available by phone or at least an assistant is available.
  4. Most buyers in this income bracket and their representatives are well-spoken AND well-written, even if English is not their primary language. They’re bright, articulate & professional.

On a Friday, I presented the buyer’s offer in person to the sellers and the seller’s agent.

The seller countered on minor items including the closing date, to which FAKE buyer agreed. With all paperwork completed with a scheduled August 2 closing date, I could not stop questioning two nagging issues – small but just enough to nag at me:

  1. Buyer’s “assistant’s” writing skills were atrocious — not so previously.
  2. Buyer insisted I front the home inspection fee – not so previously.

By Friday night when I should have been happy to have an “executed” contract with a closing date, I’m disturbed instead. 2 issues prompt (rather FORCE) me on Saturday to research.

On Saturday, I unearth another shocking “nail in the coffin”:

  1. Turns out “Mr. M” from years ago was not this Mr. M”. Definitely not the same name. Yes, it was a name I couldn’t pronounce but not THIS last name: Matsubayashi.
  2. Google search points me to other real estate agents scattered throughout the country who also faced this SCAM. For some agents, the buyer’s name was different. For some agents, this scam went too far – sellers actually moved out in anticipation of closing. Perhaps worse, a couple title agents did not wait to clear funds before REFUNDING the fake buyer’s money.

Smells Like A Scam; Must Be A Scam!

On Monday, I quickly contacted CIBC, the Canadian Bank from which this bank statement provided proof of funds. As expected, no Seiichiro Matsubayashi banked there with $3.4MM.

Then, I called Barnes-Walker Title in Bradenton, Florida, to alert them. Kathi, title agent, had not yet received the cashier’s check for $155,000. Nonetheless, she passed me to Garrett Barnes, who appreciated my head’s up, adding a Weichert Realtor had experienced something similar recently as well.

Just off the phone with Barnes-Walker and I received a call indicating Barnes-Walker had received the cashier’s check for $155,000:

  1. Check arrived in a plain white envelope – no return address.
  2. Check was drawn on a noted Canadian law firm’s account – see check image below
  3. Envelope was not even metered – just a single stamp.
check Sarasota Real Estate SCAM   Beware Disgusting Scam Targeting Sellers!

A fake $155,000 never looked so...close to perfect!

fraud alert Sarasota Real Estate SCAM   Beware Disgusting Scam Targeting Sellers!

Cassels Brock, Canadian Law Firm on which FAKE cashier's appears drawn, publishes FRAUD ALERT!

With sufficient proof to warrant FRAUD, I emailed the “buyer,” asking him/her/them if this was attempted FRAUD. I didn’t expect a response or the truth.

Surprisingly, I received an email saying, “No not at all we know who did that it was one of our employee who was sack did all that but the case is in court.”

Yeah, right, the case is in court…a “sacked” employee. The old days of providing cashier’s checks to close are gone – or should be gone – for out-of-area property buyers.

New “Rules” – No Money; No Deal!

Buyers’ ALERT: If you want to submit an offer on Sarasota real estate, please understand the need for wired funds to open escrow and proceed to closing. Should you provide earnest money and immediately try to cancel for a refund of earnest money, you will wait for average of 10 days according to various title agents and attorneys.

At the center of this unfortunate SCAM are two people (SELLERS) who in good faith entered into what they thought was the sale of their home. Even though we caught this early – earlier than some apparently facing a similar scam – these people are inconvenienced.

If you or someone you know wants to buy or sell a house in or around Sarasota (FL), please call me now at 941-914-9980. I will help you avoid scams. PLEASE also go below to leave a comment. If you’re  a real estate agent or attorney, have you experienced this scam? How far did it go before someone caught it?

[Update October 16] These scammers will not give up. Today, I received another solicitation off Trulia. We real estate and closing agents MUST come together to HELP insulate property sellers from this kind of “phishing” attempt that already has damaged some agents and sellers (see email solicitation below):

trulia scam continues Sarasota Real Estate SCAM   Beware Disgusting Scam Targeting Sellers!

Beware SCAMMERS using Trulia to hurt property owners, real estate & closing agents!

Another alias: Jirou Hayashi – email address: hayashijirou@yahoo.com.hk

As more developments occur in this insidious scam, I will keep you posted. If you have been approached in any way re: this scam, PLEASE post your details here on my blog. WE can’t help everyone who doesn’t get suspicious and “google” this scam. For those who do go to Google to confirm suspicions, they will SEE all this documented proof of the scam (attempt).

**Update** 2/4/2011

I continue to receive calls and emails from agents, home sellers & closing agents (both title and lawyers) throughout the US re: this scam. Scammers apparently are NOT letting up. Names, amounts & addresses have changed, but the MO remains the same.

With ZERO regard or concern, state & federal agencies (who SHOULD care and respond) do NOT seem to care how this scam is inconveniencing (at the least) and stealing identity & money from people (at the worst).

I have contacted:

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Florida State Attorney’s Office
  • Orlando Board of Realtors
  • www.TRULIA.com – the website from which many real estate agents are being contacted.
  • Florida Association of Realtors
  • National Association of Realtors – with both Florida and NAR, I have been extremely disappointed. This SCAM continues causing emotional and financial LOSS. With 1.2 MILLION dues-paying members, NAR could take a proactive role by shooting off ONE SIMPLE email warning all licensees of this scam!

This real estate SCAM hitting Sarasota, Florida, and big/small cities throughout the country forces all of us to be more vigilant & LESS trusting. Please pass this to any friend, family member or co-worker who is selling a house; real estate agent; real estate attorney; and/or closing agent you know who works with sellers.  PLEASE alert ALL of them.

{ 209 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael Travis February 11, 2013 at 10:46 pm

Well tis scam has reached New Hampshire. The name this time is Otsuka Masaya
Watch Out.

Reply

carl July 7, 2012 at 3:20 pm

Hello Carl,

I acknowledge the receipt of this email. This Listing is appealing to me and my family; This will be my retirement home and it will be a cash buy. I shall be closing my purchase proceedings on 30, Aug, 2012.

I shall put down $5,000.00 as the Earnest money. And Additional $550,000.00 should be put aside towards the closing but not to be added on the contract until all closing payment are completed.

I will really be please if you recommend a local attorney to represent me in this transaction. Kindly send me his details such as Name, Firm Name, Email Address, Mailing Address of his law Firm, Phone Number.

He shall over see the contract documentation, and also, i will entrust my fund in his care. I shall retain him for all legal services.

Thanks for understanding,

David Marson.
+447045750799

I just recieved this on a home I own in Texas.

Reply

Sylvia Maloney April 13, 2012 at 2:15 pm

I experienced the same scam as most listed above here in Tucson, Arizona. Toshinori Tanaka from Japan, emailed me regarding homes, he chose a home, and actually spoke with Escrow stating he sent his Earnest Money. Escrow advised him that the cashiers check will take up to 14 days to verify funds. Since then, he never called or emailed back. I also received an email from Senator Ahmed Lawan from Nigeria, with the same requests. I am now sending these emails to SCAM!

Reply

Sarasota Realtor April 13, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Thank you, Sylvia, for alerting everyone of this continued SCAM attempt. Clearly, these “scammers” are not giving up- even after a couple years. What I’ve noticed is these scammers target an area, hoping to find uninformed, unsuspecting agents, sellers & escrow agents. Once someone like you alerts all other agents in the area, scammers appear to move on to another area of the country.

Many others and I appreciate your update.

Mike

Reply

Marina Suing February 14, 2012 at 7:45 pm

I am a realtor with Coldwell Banker in Oregon and I received the following email last week. I was suspicious and spoke with a colleague who mentioned Mike Payne’s blog to me. Thank goodness! I found an email just like this one on Mike’s blog post, except the “buyer’s” name and contact info are different. So I know and can tell my client that this is indeed a scam.This James Sato also included an account statement from the Bank of China.

I have been to the area last year and liked the location.

Understand that I and my wife are OK with pictures and information we have seen so far as we would like to initiate the purchase process from China before we arrive USA before the end of next month.

This for we would not like to lose the property.

I am in China at the moment and hope to be in USA next month.

The home would be a cash buy as I have attached a scanned copy of my bank statement for your reference.

My contact information is

Address: FLAT 24 XIN YUAN LI CHAOYANG DISTRICT,BEIJING,CHINA
Telephone: 86 296 894 277

I would like to settle an up front deposit of $15,000 and close Early May.

Kindly get back to me with the next step in accord.

Regards,
Sato

Reply

Sarasota Realtor February 14, 2012 at 7:49 pm

Thank you, Marina, for sharing new details about this scam. Also, thank you on behalf of your customer for acting on your suspicions. Good job!

Reply

Sue Howell March 11, 2012 at 12:12 pm

I received the same email yesterday regarding one of my listings in Grand Haven, MI. Thanks for these posts.

Reply

Phyllis Brown November 28, 2011 at 9:03 am

I have been to the area last year and liked the location.

Understand that I and my wife are OK with pictures and information we have seen so far as we would like to initiate the purchase process from China before we arrive USA before the end of next month.

This for we would not like to lose the property.

I am in China at the moment and hope to be in USA next month.

The home would be a cash buy as I have attached a scanned copy of my bank statement for your reference.

My contact information is

Address: 414,Middle Fu Rong Road, 3rd Ring Road, Beijing, China
Phone: (+86) 10 133 716 827

I would like to settle an up front deposit of $15,000 and close early Feburary.

Kindly get back to me with the next step in accord.

Regards,
Neo Yu
A bank statement from Bank of China was attached as a jpg

Reply

Desiree Maurer May 30, 2012 at 4:59 pm

So glad I came across this website…same person…same email…same bank accounts…ect…. If it walks like a duck…

Reply

Mike Payne May 30, 2012 at 5:35 pm

I’m stunned, Desiree. I thought these “scammers” finally had stopped trying to catch people with this scam. I’m glad to hear you and your customers didn’t wast time, energy or money. Thank you for reminding all of us that these people still are out there.

Mike

Reply

Marjorie Rosenfeld November 21, 2011 at 11:15 pm

One thing you might do is check on where a suspicious e-mail came from. I mean REALLY came from. You can do this at:

http://www.iana.org/abuse/answers

What you have to do first is reveal the headers for a given message. You can do this in Windows 7 by opening the message and clicking on File and then Properties. Look for the last set of numbers in square brackets unless you see “Originating IP.” Scroll down, highlight, and copy either the last set of numbers in square brackets (last means toward the bottom of the list of numbers) or the numbers in square brackets after Originating IP. These are what you’ll need to enter in the Whois search windows you’ll find at the link above.

I used to get various scam messages all the time from 3 men in Lagos, Nigeria. The other day I got a scam message from a fellow in Hungary. Sometimes you can’t trace a message because it may come from a “black hole” address. But it’s satisfying, when you can trace a message purporting to come from someone in the U.S., UK, or Canada, to find that the message didn’t come from any of these places at all. Then you know for sure that the sender is a scammer.

What you can do, of course, when you find out where a scam message actually came from (and maybe even who really sent it) is probably not much. I used to report these messages to the FCC but never got even so much as an acknowledgement from that organization. At least, though, you can usually verify that someone is trying to scam you and stop wasting your time and energy.

Marjorie Rosenfeld (Homeowner)
Carlsbad, CA

Reply

Sarasota Realtor November 21, 2011 at 11:21 pm

Excellent, Marjorie! Thank you for sharing this tip. It’s a good one.

Mike

Reply

Lucille Bronstein November 21, 2011 at 9:29 pm

Also received email from a Dr. Eskander working with Karen Jamieson from Global Financial. Looking to purchase in the USA. He sent a “certified check” from Citi bank, but looks suspicious for a deposit. The amount much greater than required. This is in New York. How can this type of scam be stopped?

Reply

Sarasota Realtor November 21, 2011 at 10:38 pm

Lucille, you ask a great question. As you can see, many of our colleagues also have asked the same question: “HOW can this scam be stopped?”

With all the big-box sites (including Trulia, Zillow, Homes.com, Realtor.com, etc) I struck out trying to get them to WARN all agents and consumers who visit their site.

I reported to my local board; Florida Association of Realtors & National Association of Realtors – NO INTEREST in warning membership.

I also reported to local police, the Florida State Attorney General’s office & the FBI – NO REGARD.

Instead of giving up, I documented my experience. Many agents/consumers since have found this page and added details to it. Once again, it is all of us agents/consumers HELPING each other to STOP this scam. It just seems to me if the big-box sites and NAR warned all visitors and members, this scam would die an instant death. Seriously, I don’t get it – I still don’t get it. WHY WILL Zillow and NAR (refuse) to warn people?????

I didn’t get it then, and 2 years later I still don’t get it. Too many people continue to get hurt financially & emotionally.

Last week, a property owner contacted me.

As with many other similar stories, this property owner thought their house was selling…faster than they had imagined.

Their agent excitedly presented the offer – they accepted.

Their escrow agent deposited earnest money – more than what they had expected.

Buyer wanted quick close.

Seller hired movers, leased a short term rental & moved out.

Suddenly, the roof caved in. Escrow agent reported the FRAUD….and downhill from there.

They had moved out, incurring hefty moving costs.

They rented a place, losing their $2900 deposit.

They had to move back into their home, the home they thought they had sold…..

Zillow, Trulia, Homes.com, Realtor.com, Florida (& every other state’s) Association of Realtors, National Association of Realtors & local/state/federal law enforcement – WE THE DUES PAYING MEMBERS AND CONSUMERS NEED YOUR HELP!!!!!!!

Stop this scam once and for all…..

Reply

Mary Lahusky Cannon November 20, 2011 at 11:26 pm

Hi Mike,

I just wanted to say thank you for posting this information. It just happened to me and at least three others in my office alone. I was searching, trying to find information and I came across your site. I copied and pasted your link and sent it to all of our agents. I agree with you that our Board/s should at the very least send out an email warning us. Thanks again!

Mary Lahusky Cannon
RE/MAX Prestige Realty
301 Clematis St
West Palm Beach, FL 33401
palmbeachmary@gmail.com

Reply

Sarasota Realtor November 20, 2011 at 11:28 pm

I’m glad I could help you, Mary. Congratulations to you for questioning their inquiry – and confirming the scam.

Mike

Reply

Suzanne Ormsby November 19, 2011 at 3:19 pm

Here’ s the email I got through REMAX this week. Seemed kind of fishy at the start, but we do have many orientals moving into our area due to new KIA Manufacturing Plant. I am sharing in the hopes it will help stop this scam. Same bank statement as from another agent who posted the link here. My repsonse to him after doing a mapquest was ” do you live in an industrial park”. LOL.
===========================================================
I will like to offer $400,000 MLS# 03034922 / 419,900 because I love the curb appeal of this property, please send me the contract for me to sign and return immediately this will be my retirement home and it will be a cash buy.

1. I will want to close on 30th of December, 2011
2. I want to put contingency on inspection on the contract.

My legal name is Mr. Hideki Matsui 117 Westmore Drive

Etobicoke Ontario Canada M9V 3Y6

and, I will not be in Canada before the closing date to wire the funds to an attorney so I will advise you to send me an attorney information for a check to be drawn to give enough time for check clearance since I won’t be in Canada to wire funds for closing.

Please forward me a purchase contract agreement in docusign format, DocuSign format is an electronic way of signing document, forward it to me via docusign format, their website is http://www.docusign.com/ or any other electronic document I don’t have access to a printer or scanner here therefore I cannot sign and send it back in PDF format I am in a remote area of Japan. Attached is my bank statement.

My Canadian rep will Issue payment in US Funds for the earnest money for the property payable to your attorney, the check will be deliver to your attorney.

I strongly advice that I need an attorney in your state to represent my interest in this transaction, so therefore I would like to deposit all payment with the lawyer.

Please I need the following information from you the attorney information for immediate payment.

Law Firm Name……………………………………………

Law Firm Address…………………………………………….. ..

Law Firm Telephone…………………………………………… …

Lawyer’s Name……………………………………………….. …

Regards

——————————————————————————–
From: Suzanne786@aol.com
Date: Fri, 18 Nov 2011 12:39:55 -0500
Subject: Re: A message has been sent to you from remax.com
To: hidekimatsuii@hotmail.com

Dear Mr Matsu,
Please use the link below to access the active listings I found for you in my work area. I work in Troup, Heard, Meriwether and south Coweta Counties. Any listings out of this described area are out of what I am comfortable in showing you, as I know these area’s best. Please feel free to call my cell or email me any questions. Be sure to include the address if not the MLS number. Use the camera icon to see more pictures and the car icon to get a map.

Click on the following link: http://atl.rexplorer.net/REX$PUB/78/ORMSBYSUZANN/pub/pub_10181237171.htm

If the URL above is not a hyperlink you can view the published report by copying and pasting the URL into the address bar on your browser. NOTE: This report link will be accessible until 5/16/2012.

Thanks,
Suzanne

Suzanne Ormsby, Associate Broker, GRI
REMAX Culpepper
205 Broad Street
LaGrange GA 30240
706-402-6201 cell
706-884-5407 FAX
http://www.lagrangehomes.net

Keep up with the news in Freetown Sierra Leone at http://www.nazarethhouseap.blogspot.com

In a message dated 11/17/2011 6:37:48 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, hidekimatsuii@hotmail.com writes:
I am not too familiar with the area that is why I need your help as the real estate professional, please send me some property to chose from in a very nice & quiet community I am going to live in this home with my family, please send me some of your listing to choose from, a single family home, 3-6 bed 2-3 bath 2,500sqft, price range starting from $400,000 to $500,000 in a nice & quiet community. Please no short sales and no foreclosure property

Regards,

Mr. Matsui

——————————————————————————–
Subject: Re: A message has been sent to you from remax.com
To: hidekimatsuii@hotmail.com
From: suzanne786@aol.com
Date: Tue, 15 Nov 2011 00:07:47 +0000

Thanks for inquiring, but it would help if you’d pick an area or county at least. There are many homes available that fit your desires and budget. Let me know what towns you want to be in or near and I’ll do my best for you.
Thanks,
Suzanne Ormsby
REMAX Culpepper
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

——————————————————————————–

From: hidekimatsuii@hotmail.com
Date: 14 Nov 2011 18:06:01 -0500
To:
Subject: A message has been sent to you from remax.com

Message from Consumer: Hideki Matsui

I am Mr. Hideki Matsui a Japanese origin I need a 4 bed room single family home to buy, in a nice area in any city or town in your state and it as to be a traditional sale and its going to be a cash buy, with a garage and 2 bath with or without swimming pool price should be $500,000 please send me some listing/MLS to choose E-mail: hidekimatsuii@hotmail.com

This message is not from or endorsed by RE/MAX, LLC. This is a system generated email that has been sent from remax.com. If the inquiry seems misdirected, please forward this email to webroster@remax.net.

Reply

Sarasota Realtor November 19, 2011 at 3:32 pm

Great details, Suzanne. Thanks for posting.

Reply

Tony Hensley November 22, 2011 at 1:53 pm

I just had the same thing happen or I am in the middle of it. Thanks for posting. Typed his info in google and got this web site. Is there any way to prosecute this or at least stop it? This person still thinks I am sending him a contract.
Thanks
Tony Hensley
Re/Max of Rapid City

Reply

Suzanne Ormsby November 22, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Hey Tony of RC! My old stomping grounds 20 some odd years ago. Sis still lives there but visits GA often. I’m also with REMAX and did forward Dave Linger my chain of emails with this scammer as scammer found me on the remax.com website and registered himself as a prospect. I asked our real estate icon to please block my scammer at least. These jerks being in Canada maybe makes it impossible to stop, just like those telemarketing calls that come from there, despite your being on the do not call list. I tried stringing my scammer along a little and asked for a rather large retainer fee payable to my brokerage, but he insisted on attorney infomation again. We don’t do earnest money like that down here. Almost always goes to the listing broker trust account or their FC attorney. I’d like to see a criminal charge when the check is found to be fraudulent. Might not arrest the scammer right away but he if ever got stopped at a road block in the USA and cop runs him through NCIC they’d find a warrent for arrest and off he/she goes to tell it to the judge , who might not give them a bail bond so quick with a mass fraud charge. We all should string the scammers along so at least the supposed deposit checks bounce and our brokers can then file charges. In GA anyway, closing attorney’s have gotten very wary of any cash buyers due to so many scams involving fake cashier checks at closing. Many a lawyer here had to pay the seller after closing when funds didn’t clear and they recorded the deeds immediatley after closing. I personally know one who got scammed and he doesn’t even trust cash these days. Yep – buyer came with $72K cash to close. Took hours to first get the pen that checks if fake and check every bill 3 times. Try explaining to an asset manager that your buyer hates banks and only uses cash. FNMA AM’s don’t like that too much. LOL> There is also a way to verify if a drivers license if fake in our state but I won’t share that in case the hackers or scammers try that one down the road.

Reply

Suzanne Ormsby November 22, 2011 at 3:37 pm

A quick PS…. My hubby and I also have a bail bonding company and when people jump bond we get a bail jumping warrent. It’s amazing how many of our bondees have gotten caught at road blocks in other states.

Allen W. Trammell November 16, 2011 at 9:08 pm

I recall we had a couple contacts which were pretty much identical to the one described. I am a believer in the philosophy that if it appears too good to be true, then it generally is. I think I advised my agent at the time to ask the buyer to provide a true and unaltered bank verification form with name and contact number of their bank. That we would no0t accept any form of earnest deposit or other funds until we had a proper proof of funds letter from a reputable and verifiable bank contact. I have had a cashier’s check (stopped payment) and I never thought that could happen-but it does. Any check or cashier’s check does not get refunded until cleared, and we have an emd agreement buyer must sign advising it may be 10-15 days before we have notice that the funds have cleared our bank.

Reply

Brenda Reynolds, RE/Max Executives Plus November 9, 2011 at 9:58 pm

Thank you for posting information describing experience with these scammers. Over past few days, I’ve received emails from “Alex Eskander, a Gyn. from London” His name and basic information checked out through a quick google search; I sent several listings that I thought would work for him, but how easy for these thieves of time; money to choose identities this way. His offer to buy immediately without seeing any homes caused me to do more checking. Upon, finally, googling the phone number +44 704 579 4688, I saved a home owner; myself a huge amount of time; possibly $$. Again, thank you for posting about your experiences!

Reply

Kristen Forrester November 9, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Here’s another Karen Jamieson story – this time she is working with Dr. Alex Eskander, a noted OB/GYN in the UK. Love the use of the Net – looked up the Doctor & found him to be legite but the email different than in the email that was received. Noted the poor use of the English language (especially for a Doctor) in the email. Next I copied and pasted the body of email in google along with Karen Jamieson’s name & poof – there are hundreds of scam sites, blogs, etc on this subject. Karen Jamieson also goes by Karen James & her company changes from Global Financial Mgmnt to Global Financial Corp – actually, all you have to do is plug in her address after the @ symbol & it pulls up a site that is under construction. I certainly appreciate all the real estate agents who have the guts to post these horrendous scams for us to check. Times are tough – we have to be careful. Thanks again for your post. Murrieta CA

Reply

Kris Corderio October 26, 2011 at 10:23 pm

I received the same email from Dr.Colin F. Walshaw last week. I’m located in Orange Park Florida. I have felt that this was a scam the whole time and have repeatedly told my broker that something didn’t feel right about this transaction (the person responding always sounds slightly Asian to me in emails) He asked for a home in the area. I asked to further clarification on what specific area as Jacksonville and the outlying area is a very large city but never received any. He immediately told me about a house that I have previously seen and told him that it is in abandoned condition, he still wanted to proceed with the transaction. This evening I received a signed contract from him and intend to let my broker know about the scam tomorrow morning and see if she recommends contacting anyone about it. Beware, they’re still out there trying to make a buck.

Reply

Steven Baughman October 26, 2011 at 3:05 pm

Looks like Dr. Colin Walshaw is “looking” for houses in the Houston area. It appears to be the same scam that has popped up in DC, Colorado, Florida, etc.

I have alerted the realtor. Out of the blue a “cashier’s Check” for $228,000. appeared drawn on Citibank and sent to me from Colin Walshaw from Toronto, Canada made payable to me. BEWARE

Reply

Phyllis Brown October 16, 2011 at 2:03 pm

I Googled the address this man presented, and that’s when I found out this was a scam: 120 Blvd St. Joseph O, Montreal QC, Canada I found your website a bit after that.

We initially received this email: “I Need a 3 To 5 Bed Room Single Family Home and Its a Cash Buy, With a Garage and 2 Bath, Price Should Range $500,000 To $600,000 Please Send Me Some Property Listing/mls To Choose regards Mr. Kominami Masato”

17 days later, another (he never called):
“Thanks for your responds a thousand appologies for not getting back to you on time have been out of Osaka for a while just arrived now from Tokyo i did try calling your numbers with no sucess perhaps you could direct me as to how to initiate this however , I need a 3 to 5 bed rooms single family home to buy and it as to be a traditional sale and its going to be a cash buy, with a garage and 2 bath in a nice suburb . A structure of one story high with a front brick wall and back yard for kids , i would prefer a gated community where social amenities are shared price should range $300,000 to $400,000 in City Of Manchester , please send me some listing/MLS to choose in your area of greatest expertise.
The home will be my retiring home , please forward me property listings any area, I have been in the locati on so many times .
Regards,
Masato ”

He clarified some questions I’d sent him with this email the following day:
“Thanks for your email and further explanation of the various properties however am not looking at retirement homes wherekids arent allowed but only for a few hours , i am looking for a property in a nice suburb or a gated community which would be my retirement home where my family and friends can come vacate in espectially the little ones .
A one story property is ideal , i sincerely hope to recieve this listings later today , have a nice day .
Masato .”

And the last one, on October 15th:
“Haven gone through all listings and property datas sent by you , its with graet pleaseure to inform you that we were able to agree to an ideal and financially reasonable property as indicated however I will like to offer the sum of $330,000 for this property at … [removed it for the homeowner's sake] Mls# 4081872 because I love the curb appeal of this property, please send me the contract for me to sign and return immediately this will be my retirement home and it will be a cash buy.
Please forward me a purchase contract agreement in DocuSign format, DocuSign format is an electronic way of signing document, their website is http://www.docusign.net I would like to close on the November 25th 2011, according to our tradition in Japan I need a lawyer to represent me in this transaction please provide me a lawyer.
Earnest money will be send to my lawyer or an attorney who will disburse funds accodingly My legal name is Kominami Mosato and my wifes names is Esaki Mosato, my address 120 Blvd St. Joseph O, Montreal QC, Canada, H2T 2P6 , , we await the purchase agreement. Please forward me complete information of an attorney .
Regards ,
Masato”

When I Googled the address, I found this: http://blog.lorinczipal.com/2010/02/01/internet-scams-emotive-marketing

Feel free to use any of this to warn our Realtor community or send it to whoever else you’d like. I agree, this is what we want the regulatory agencies and authorities to oversee for us!

Best regards,
Phyllis

Reply

John Howard October 14, 2011 at 11:39 am

I just got the email inquiry from Dr. Colin Walshaw…referencing Karen Jamieson…same exact email…Beware

Reply

Kivanc Senocak October 13, 2011 at 12:09 pm

I am a Realtor in Washington DC and I received a similar email yesterday Oct.12 2011 and I responded back with few listings even I knew it was a scam. Today the person responded back with his choice of property and wants to close in 30 days.

Here is the original email:

“Hello sir/madam,

I am Dr. Colin F. Walshaw,a Consultant Radiologist in London.

I am contacting you regards Residential Homes for sale in your area. Please I need your assistance in acquiring a good property in your city or town for immediate purchase and relocation of myself and my family.

Please send me your mls listings features for homes within range $250,000 to $550,000 USDOLLARS.

I need a 3-4 bedrooms SINGLE FAMILY HOME or CONDO with or without a pool located in a good area.

If you have readily available listings, send to me asap your links to view the property and pick one.

Thanks for your help.

Please reply to my direct email: drcolinwalshaw@yahoo.com.hk

Yours Faithfully,
Dr. Colin F. Walshaw
Consultant Radiologist
MB, ChB, MSc, MRCP, FRCR
ADDRESS: 32 Orchard Road Lytham St Annes Lancashire FY8 1PF UK.
EMAIL: drcolinwalshaw@yahoo.com.hk

And here is the second email:

“Dear REALTOR KIVANC SENOCAK,

I have gone over all your listings and I can tell you I have seen my house. I am very moved and would like to buy immediately.

I am in love with the home with MLS#: DC7686562 and would like to place an offer. I am willing to pay full price, however with your expertise, I am hoping we can negotiate. I also love to close this transfer within 30days period of time if possible let me know.

If you have any documents that need to be signed, kindly forward to my email and I will return asap.

I understand your need for financial verification to ensure the funds are available for purchase before proceeding with the offer therefore my financial contact information is duly noted below, kindly send an email to Mrs. Karen Jamieson, so that I may give them authorization to release any and all necessary documentation to your office for the fund verification.

She does prefer an email as she is often in meetings or away from her desk:

NAME: Karen Jamieson
GLOBAL FINANCIAL CORP.
EMAIL: kjamieson@glblfncmgt.com

Previously, I spoke with my Financial and was strongly advised the need to retain an attorney.

As they liquidate some of my assets, they will send the payment in full to my attorney that will assist in the disbursement of funds, as well as monitor the transaction.

NOTICE:
=======
I would need an independent attorney that will be in touch with my broker information above as well as represent me during this process if we are unable to make it for the viewings and inspections.

Do not hesitate to provide to me the Attorney’s

Full name:
TELEPHONE NUMBER
EMAIL ADDRESS

Do you have a reputable attorney you can refer to me?

Thanks and God bless.

YOURS FAITHFULLY,
Dr. Colin F. Walshaw
Consultant Radiologist
MB, ChB, MSc, MRCP, FRCR
ADDRESS: 32 Orchard Road Lytham St Annes Lancashire FY8 1PF UK.
EMAIL: drcolinwalshaw@yahoo.com.hk
Tel: +44 704 579 4688.”

Reply

Marjorie Rosenfeld October 8, 2011 at 9:23 pm

We listed our house in Carlsbad, CA for sale with a legitimate real estate firm in the spring of 2011. Our agent recently brought us an offer that was supposedly from a man in Japan who said he wanted to retire here. The Japanese man was using another agent (also from a legitimate firm) who had just previewed our home. Our counter offer was immediately accepted, with closing to be in about 60 days. The prospective buyer was supposed to remit earnest money of $5,000, with another $400,000 by the 17th day following signing of the contract, at which time inspection contingencies were also to be removed.

We had already had a termite inspection and general inspection when we thought we had a buyer less than 6 months previously so forwarded those. Then we waited for that $5,000 check. The check never arrived. I could never understand why anyone would be sending a check from Japan instead of doing a wire transfer. The supposed buyer supposedly had $4M. A bank statement to this effect had been briefly shown me. I could never understand either why someone with $4M would be keeping it all in the bank. Usually millionaires have lots of investments.

I didn’t have the name of the prospective buyer, as I hadn’t recalled what it was when I signed our counter offer and our agent was apparently waiting for the arrival of the earnest money to provide us with a copy of what would then be a legal contract. When I had to sign a Notice to Perform on the 17th day, though, I noted the name of this “buyer”: Tanaka Toshinori. The next day I did some research. There are a couple real people with this name: a young photographer/filmmaker living in London who probably is not ready to retire and a couple of professional people who appear to be named Toshinori Tanaka. But when I searched for “Tanaka Toshinori scam,” the information from Sarasota about this scam and this alias came up.

I had been told by our agent that the buyer in Japan kept writing to his agent here asking, “Where is my money?” I figure he’s probably going to try to demand the return of his bogus $5,000. Small pickings! Maybe this is a copycat scammer who doesn’t quite understand how this scam is supposed to work!

Reply

Sarasota Realtor September 14, 2011 at 10:21 pm

From real estate agent Cherie Murra, I received the following: “I am an agent and received an email from a Tanaka Toshinori, but one time it was Toshinari and each email address seems to be different.He wants a 5 bedroom 5 bathroom home for 500-1.2 in MAssachusetts. We don’t even have ranches that size as he requested. Anyway, who in MA should I report or forward his emails to?”

Cherie, I strongly recommend you start by contacting your broker and local board, alerting them to this scam. Hopefully, they will let others in your area know about this. As obvious a scam as it appears to all of us who now have seen it, please trust me when I say I hear from way too many people who didn’t see SCAM as we did.

From there, you certainly can warn your state association of realtors and state bar as well. I also recommend you contact your local newspapers – they will appreciate the head’s up because this definitely is hitting “for sale by owners” (FSBO).

Thank you,
Mike

Reply

Heli Sairanen, Coldwell Banker BOV September 14, 2011 at 9:02 pm

The Japanese scam has reached Northern California and is being attempted in the beautiful Napa Valley. Buyer docusigns an offer, sends his agent $131,000 “cashier’s check”, along with a very convincing looking bank statement.
We refused to sign the offer until all funds were verified and the buyer actually LOOKED at the house. Before seeing the house and funds being verified, buyer has an emergency and has to return to Japan, but because of this emergency he immediately needs $95,000 of his deposit back…the rest can wait.
No dice. Nothing going to the buyer and the “cashier’s check” is at the bank being investigated/verified.
WATCH OUT everyone!!!!

Reply

Abbie Roses September 13, 2011 at 1:02 am

I received an inquiry from a husband and wife physician team in Toronto who have fallen in love with a house in Prescott, AZ. They, like many others, use Karen Jamieson as their financial advisor. I googled the physicians and they appear to be real people, but Ms Jamieson and Global Financial Management do not. Fortunately, ripoffreports.com has the verbatim inquiry I had received so i stopped before wasting another minute on this scam.

Reply

Sarasota Realtor September 13, 2011 at 8:40 am

Thanks for sharing details, Abbie. We appreciate it.

Different scam; same intent. To perpetuate a scam, somebody must become a victim. What I’ve discovered in the 2 years I’ve received calls, emails & comments here about this (and similar) scam attempts is that for every 1 person who gets suspicious & investigates (i.e. searches Google), 2 people proceed, ecstatic about an Internet lead for $500,000+.

Nearly 100% of the people who finally admit their costly exuberance (after the fact) speak on condition of anonymity – they understandably so do not want to admit publicly they “fell for” a scam that hurt someone (a seller for instance). More than once I’ve mentioned here that real estate & escrow agents have emailed & called me, admitting to fronting money, returning earnest money before clearing it; sellers have admitted to fronting costs to move out of a house they expected to sell.

I’ve also heard from people who believe giving too much personal information contributed to ID Theft.

In all this time, this is what I’ve heard to be scammers’ intent.

Does anyone know of any other REASON (motive) for this continued scam?

Mike

Reply

Kivanc Senocak October 13, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Abbie;
I received the same email here in DC. and I posted the email content on this blog if you want to read it

Reply

Leon Oransky September 8, 2011 at 1:52 am

I got an email from this person yesterday and this one today:

rom: Kudou Noriko
Date: Wed, 7 Sep 2011 17:38:18 +0000
To:
Subject: MLS# : 10019670

Hello Leon Oransky,

Thanks so much for your email, I will like to offer $1,000,000.00 for MLS#: 10019670 because I love the curb appeal of this property.

Please send me the contract for me to sign and return immediately this will be my retirement home and it will be a cash buy.

1. I will want to close on 20th October, 2011

2. I want to put down $10,000.00 Earnest money + $580,000.00 down payment towards home.

3. I want to put contingency on inspection on the contract.

I will prefare to deposit my funds in the company of your attorney, because my friend had issue with title company in the past, so I dont want to deal with them direct.

Please forward me a purchase contract agreement in docusign format, docusign format is an electronic way of signing document. http://www.docusign.net

I am presently on Holiday in North America and i will issue payment in US Funds $590,000.00USD for the earnest money and the down payment for the property payable to your attorney, the cashier’s check will deliver to your attorney.

Please I need the following information for your attorney immediately at my own expense

Law Firm Name……………………………………………
Law Firm Address……………………………………………….
Law Firm Telephone………………………………………………

Lawyer’s Name…………………………………………………..
Lawyer’s Email…………………………………………………..

Regards,
Kudou Noriko

The content is very similar to the email mentioned in this post. I though it looked fishy, but thanks to this blog, now I know for sure this is a scam. Thanks Mike!

Reply

Kathryn Farmer September 7, 2011 at 11:25 am

I encountered a different kind of scammer back a year or so ago … a fellow from Nigeria emailed wanting info on properties and then wanted to come preveiw them. He wanted a letter from me on company letterhead stating that he was coming to look at property so he could get a visa to come here. Red flag was that he was not very particular about the properties, not enough questions about them, etc. I simply broke off communication with him. Maybe I let a bonafide buyer go … doubt it … but better safe than sorry! Listen to those gut feelings.

Reply

Priscilla Hammond September 7, 2011 at 8:51 am

I’ve recently had 2 scam attempts from a “fake” buyer and it’s not just scammers pretending to be a Trulia lead, they’ve done it from Homes.com as well. I received the exact same bank statement as proof of funds, but a different passport and name. I’d advise all real estate professionals to not click on any links you receive in an email for a lead from any of the the online sites. Go to your account profile on Trulia, Zillow, Homes.com, etc. if the lead is in your account, then it may be legitimate.

Reply

Leave a Comment

{ 11 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: