FBI report: 11,800 internet real estate scams in 2018
WASHINGTON – May 8, 2019 – The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Internet Complaint Center (IC3) released its annual report on internet crimes. It found a total of 351,936 complaints of internet crime were submitted in 2018, resulting in monetary losses exceeding $2.7 billion.
Of those crimes, 11,300 victims were taken in by real estate-related scams, for a total loss of $150 million, according to Inman News. Year-to-year, the number of victims increased by 17 percent (9,645 real estate fraud victims in 2017) and the amount of dollars lost in real estate scams increased by 168 percent ($56 million in 2017).
Florida ranks third in total number of internet fraud victims after California and Texas – and it also followed both states in total amount of money lost by victims.
Many of the successful real estate scams stem from stolen listing data, in which criminals change contact information and advertise a home for sale or rent at prices below local market rates. In many cases, these are discovered after the actual listing agent finds the mirror-copy of their listing with changed numbers.
Another nefarious high-income scam has buyers send final transaction payments to a fraudulent account set up by the scammer.
The most common crimes in the report were scams on electronic purchases, personal data breaches and extortion; the most costly crimes involved investment scams, business email compromises, and romance/confidence fraud. People over age 50 were more likely to be internet crime victims.
In 2018, the FBI developed the Recovery Asset Team (RAT) to assist with the recovery of funds for victims who transferred funds to domestic accounts under false premises. This agency succeeded in recovering 75 percent of losses reported to these types of internet crimes, the FBI says.
The FBI says the prevalence of internet crimes continued an upward trend in 2018, and that awareness and reporting are crucial to the prevention and intervention of these crimes.
The FBI report is posted online.
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