Look out for property scams, warns RE/MAX
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OVER the last month, RE/MAX of Southern Africa says it has received several reports of various real estate agent scams taking place and within the Western Cape in particular.
Adrian Goslett, the regional director and chief executive of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, warned South Africans to be careful of suspicious online advertising and to ask for an agent’s credentials if ever they were uncertain.
RE/MAX said there were various ways in which these con artists operate, with the most common is to create a fake profile on social media and claim to work for a well-known property group. The agents then appeared to be legitimised by the brand but were in fact in no way affiliated to the office.
In all scams, the scammer will attempt to get money for a property that they are not in a legal position to offer for rental or sale. The fraudster might place an advertisement for a property or contact a person directly and are usually offering a deal that is too good to be true. Often the advertisement will include photos of the property, and in some cases, the scammer might even include a fake contract, which is ready to be signed. The property could either be a real listing copied from property portals, or it could be entirely fictitious.
After making contact, the scammer would request that money be paid directly into his/her account, usually in the guise of a deposit or possibly the first month’s rent be paid upfront. Once the money had transferred, the scammer then disappears, RE/MAX said.
“Be wary of agents who are never able to meet you in person. No large sums of money should be paid unless signed contracts are involved. If an agent asks for money to be transferred without any documentation in place, this should be another warning sign,” it said.