Majority of U.S. Real Estate Pros Faced Seller Impersonation Fraud in 2023
CertifID, a prominent company specializing in wire fraud protection, has released survey data that underscores the increasing incidence of seller impersonation fraud directed at property owners in the United States.
In an October 2023 survey conducted by CertifID, it was revealed that 54% of real estate professionals had encountered at least one instance of seller impersonation fraud within the past six months. Simultaneously, 77% of surveyed real estate professionals reported a surge in such fraudulent attempts during the same period.
Seller impersonation fraud involves fraudulent individuals utilizing publicly accessible records to pose as the owners of vacant or unoccupied properties, ultimately aiming to profit from the sale. This form of fraud poses a substantial threat to U.S. property owners.
To address this concern, the U.S. Secret Service had issued an advisory earlier in the year. According to Stephen Dougherty, a financial fraud investigator with the agency, cases of these fraudulent schemes have been on the rise since the previous fall and are becoming increasingly organized.
CertifID’s CEO, Tyler Adams, noted that the company had observed a rise in seller impersonation fraud attempts towards the end of 2022, signaling a broader campaign orchestrated by criminal syndicates. To counter this trend, he stressed the need for more stringent identity and ownership verification, involving both people and technology.
Real estate professionals, particularly REALTORS®, play a pivotal role in educating home buyers and sellers about potential fraud risks. Jennifer Wauhob, the 2023 Vice President of Association Affairs at the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), emphasized the collective effort required to protect consumers and ensure the authenticity of participants in property transactions.
CertifID offers a robust solution to prevent seller impersonation through its software, capable of assessing over 150 indicators of fraud. In 2023, the company identified 2,239 suspected cases of seller impersonation fraud among its existing customers.
Furthermore, CertifID is planning to launch an identity verification standalone solution in early 2024, with real estate firms having the opportunity to register for early access to this offering.