Warning! Fake client trying to lure agents to properties
by REP07 Nov 2014
Industry leaders are cautioning agents working Toronto’s west end, warning them about a seemingly ideal client intent on luring them to vacant properties.
In Etobicoke, this individual is posing as a buyer and is targeting female agents, aiming to find them alone at a vacant property. The Toronto Real Estate Board released a member alert via its intranet, detailing the attempts made on at least five women in a single office.
The individual claims to be a doctor relocating from British Columbia, and is looking for an $800,000 home for his wife – a fellow doctor – and their two children.
The deception is a reminder of the tragic kidnapping and murder of a real estate agent in Arkansas. The man arrested for the crime said he targeted the agent “because she was just a woman that worked alone, a rich broker.”
News of the scam came to light when one female agent told her colleague that she received the same request from a similar buyer. That interaction, she said, turned sour and the buyer began harassing her with phone calls and rude text messages.
The agents looked further into the individual’s story, and found that no hospitals – whether downtown or in Etobicoke – were planning to hire a doctor by the name the individual provided.
The individual contacted at least four other female agents in that office, though TREB was unable to disclose which Toronto office that is.
One of those agents agreed to meet the individual, but smartly brought her husband. While waiting outside the property, she noted a silver Acura slow down, make a U-turn, then speed away. The individual later made an excuse for not showing up.
TREB said each agent was contacted directly on her mobile phone, not through the real estate office. The properties that the individual requested to see were each vacant.
Agents, and especially those in Etobicoke, are reminded to enact safe practices while showing properties.
For safety tips:
1 – Bring a buddy
When asked why the agent was targeted, the alleged killer said: “Because she was just a woman that worked alone...” Having another agent with you will automatically reduce your chances of becoming a victim. Plus, that second agent can help you show the property to more than one prospective buyer at a time, essentially doubling your efficiency.
2 – Follow, don’t lead
Never walk ahead of potential buyers, since this presents the evil-intentioned with the opportunity to overpower you. Instead, direct the potential buyer when showing the property. Say, “The kitchen is to your left,” and enter the space after them. This also provides the potential buyer with the opportunity to take in the space as clearly as possible.
3 – Check in
If you’ll be showing the home alone, be sure to tell someone you trust the address of the property and check in with that person every half hour or so. If you miss a check in, that person will know to attempt to contact you.
4 – Escape routes
Search the property for escape routes. If you find yourself in a disturbing situation, can you leave the house through the back door? Is there a side entrance through which you can escape? During your search for and mental note of escape routes, you can also perfect your knowledge of the home’s details.
5 – Open curtains and windows
In addition to adding to the home’s natural light and fresh ambiance, opening the curtains and windows allows passersby to look in and detect any trouble.