Scammers Pose as Agents to Bilk Real Estate Colleagues

January 17, 2020

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued a warning this week about a new scam in which tricksters pose as real estate agents and other trusted professionals, asking for financial “favors” from unsuspecting victims. In one example of the scheme, a scammer may pretend to be a real estate practitioner asking his or her coworkers to pick up hundreds of dollars in gift cards for closing gifts to clients.

Rutledge says real estate pros may be particularly vulnerable to such scams because their name, phone number, and place of work is often readily available to the public. “As we become more aware of possible scams, these bad actors are upping their game and using the people we know and trust to get to our money,” Rutledge says. “They use familiar names and have believable requests, but when it comes to your money, always use an abundance of caution. Pick up the phone and call directly.”

Rutledge offers the following tips to avoiding such scams:

  • Brokers and managers should instruct their agents and staff to follow the company’s purchasing practices. Rutledge suggests considering an office policy to pay for work-related expenses only through a company credit card, and never request personal funds from agents or staff.
  • Be discerning of any text message or phone call claiming to be a manager or coworker that does not originate from the telephone number you have on file.
  • Verify the identity of the caller or person by sending a text to the correct number you have on file before acting on anything.