SAN JOSE, Calif., April 14, 2016 – Recognizing that fraud has had a significant impact on the real estate industry and that the number of fraudulent cases is on rise, the Santa Clara County Association of REALTORS® recently held a Fraud Symposium to address the topic and educate its members about the issue.
More than 100 real estate professionals attended the sold-out event, which featured Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen, Deputy District Attorney Charles Huang and other members of their team, who emphasized the importance of reporting anything suspicious when it occurs. They shared some trends in real estate fraud as well as recent cases involving fraud and their outcomes.
The DAs Office has seen a rise in fraud as it pertains to the rental industry, with scams that typically come via email. There also continue to be a number of cases that involve mortgage fraud, forgery of documents and identity theft.
Cherie Bourlard, Deputy D.A. of the Elder Fraud Unit, addressed the impact that fraud has had on the elderly in particular. Seniors make a good target because they tend to be trusting of other people. Additionally, they often have a “nest egg” and live alone. Sometimes their memory isn’t the best or dementia sets in, so it is easy to take advantage of them. They can be tricked into signing documents when they are not fully aware of what they are signing. It also can sometimes take them a longer amount of time to realize that they have been a victim of fraud than other people. Finally, they are less likely to report fraud when it happens to them because they don’t know who to contact or are embarrassed that they fell victim to such predators.
In addition to scams impacting the elderly, there also have been instances of computer hackers posing as real estate agents or title companies and then stealing homebuyer’s escrow deposits.
The symposium shared some of the warning signs of fraud, which is beneficial because when you know what the red flags are, you’re more likely catch a scam and prevent it from happening. Additionally, the symposium provided valuable information about how fraud should be handled when it does occur. This was a very informative event that SCCAOR hopes to bring back each year. Anyone who suspects fraud is encouraged to call the offices of the District Attorney at (408)792-2879.
About the Santa Clara County Association of REALTORS®
SCCAOR, established in 1896, is California’s oldest and Northern California’s largest real estate association. It exists to meet the business, professional and political needs of its members and to promote and protect homeownership and private property rights.