In today’s highly linked world, you would think it would be a difficult to pretend to be a real estate agent and successfully fool multiple homebuyers into giving you, personally, down payments on homes you had seen only from the outside. That kind of thinking made it very simply for a California woman to allegedly scam thousands of dollars out of Fresno-area homebuyers.
The woman, who is in custody, posed as a real estate agent. She showed buyers prospective homes but refused to take them inside. The reason? The homes were still occupied. When the victims expressed interest in purchasing the property, she would then ask them to give her a down payment directly so she could handle the sale. When they did so, the con artist simply disappeared, police say, taking their money with her.
Taking Advantage of New Homebuyers
The fraud was successful to the tune of $110,000 before the scammer was caught, in large part because she targeted households that reside in the United States illegally. This made it far less likely they would report her and, furthermore, the buyers were less likely to have any familiarity with the home-buying process in the United States. They often believed the circuitous and slightly convoluted process of seeing the exterior of the home, paying up front and directly to the faux agent, and then waiting on her to deliver ownership, was the price of buying a property when they were not legally even supposed to be in the country.
Authorities say she also explained her actions by telling the would-be homebuyers the homes they were viewing were in pre-foreclosure, which is why they were not able to attend a showing of the home. Then, she would offer to buy the home on behalf of the undocumented buyer. The thefts allegedly took place between 2017 and 2019.
The woman was arrested for grand theft and theft by false pretenses and posted bail shortly after being jailed. She was finally caught when multiple victims of the scam tracked her down and reported her, local police sergeant Dan Barcellos told Fresno news outlet ABC30. “They all had the same story, the same kind of justification as far as what was going on,” he added. Police believe there could be more victims.
Tell us what you think:
- What should happen if this woman is found guilty?
- How should individuals posing as real estate agents be penalized?
- Should the fact that the victims in this scam are undocumented immigrants be a factor?
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