Be alert to avoid fantasy buyers and con jobs, agents told
THERE IS an increase in the number of fantasy buyers and confidence tricksters, according to Anton du Plessis, the chief executive of Vineyard Estates and chairman of the Western Cape Institute of Estate Agents’ Cape Peninsula committee.
Du Plessis said he had recently been approached by two such characters.
“There seem to be two categories of fantasy buyers. Those in the first category sometimes have no intention of actually defrauding agents or their clients; they simply enjoy posing as rich potential buyers and being treated with deference.”
In one recent case, he said, the buyer had offered to pay more than the asking price if the owners would move out within a week and would leave all their furniture. The hapless sellers discovered the truth about her before they had made “any concrete plans”.
“In another high-profile case in Constantia, a buyer offered more than the listed price (R25 million) if the seller would move out within a week. The seller, delighted with his good fortune, agreed.
“The buyer was then wined and dined at the best restaurants to celebrate the sale. However, when it came to providing guarantees, the seller disappeared.
Those in the second category, he said, were trying “to make a quick buck”.
Du Plessis cited a case in which a man had what looked like written confirmation of a lottery win and tried to extract rent deposits from prospective tenants on the house he claimed to have bought.
In a second case, Du Plessis said he had been approached by a man claiming to be a high-level fighter pilot in a foreign air force and asking to see houses in the R30m category. He, too, proved to be bogus.
Du Plessis’s checklist of points, aimed at helping agents weed out suspect “buyers”, includes:
Inspect the buyer’s vehicle. Affluent buyers do not have secondrate cars. Buyers who don’t have cars should arouse suspicion.
Check where they are staying. If this cannot be ascertained, there is again room for suspicion.
Be especially wary about any statements that money is on the way but not yet available.
Check their e-mail addresses. More often than not confidence tricksters will use e-mail, such as xxx@hotmail or xxx@yahoo, where the service providers rarely check the residential addresses of subscribers.
Check their identity documents.
Be especially wary of requests to take occupation of any property before payment or provision of watertight guarantees.
Beware buyers who ask for short-ter m cash loans – that is almost certainly a sign that they are crooks. The reason for their needing
‘Beware buyers who readily accept the listed price. Genuine
the loan will often appear to come up while the agent is with them, for example a call from an accomplice posing as a car rental company representative asking for a deposit.
Beware buyers who readily accept the listed price. Genuine buyers do not often behave like that.
Du Plessis said “it is essential to have written proof of fraud to have the person arrested.
“The fact that he has pretended to be someone that he is not, is not in itself a criminal offence.
“However, if he has supplied you with an identity document that has been altered, or a fictitious or altered bank statement, then the police will have grounds to arrest him.”