MIAMI REALTORS®
Legal Updates & Resources

Legal Alert: Vacant Lot Scams

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LEGAL ALERT: VACANT LOT SCAMS

 

We recently learned from The Fund® that the volume of scams involving vacant lots is on the rise. Typically, the victims of fraud live outside the United States and own vacant properties without mortgages. For tips on how to avoid falling victim to vacant lot scams, visit The Fund®’s website. Remember, you should always exercise caution in closing transactions where you do not personally know the seller or where the seller is executing a deed outside of your presence.

 

RED FLAGS TO LOOK FOR IN TRANSACTIONS:
  1. Property being sold is a vacant lot without a mortgage. Do your due diligence as soon as possible. Independently verify whether there is a mortgage. The Fund® provides other advice for how to verify the true owner and their intentions to sell.
  2. You never meet the seller. If the seller executes and notarizes documents abroad outside of your presence and sends them to your office via an international postal service, be on high alert.
  3. Carefully review all signatures. Cross-reference signatures with government-issued documents. Verify that passports are valid with government authorities. Get second form of identification.
  4. Consider using RONs. If the seller refuses to use a Remote Online Notary, it might raise a red flag.
  5. Check for forged notary blocks. Notary stamps should clearly display the name of the notary, their commission number, and the date their commission expires. Verify the notary through the relevant government agency. Be on high alert of any of the notaries that The Fund® has flagged are listed on closing documents or deeds, as it might indicate a forged notary block.

If you have any questions, reach out to Evian White De Leon, Esq., Chief Legal Counsel for the MIAMI Association of REALTORS®.

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