Be alert to avoid fan­tasy buy­ers and con jobs, agents told

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - PROPERTY -

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.”

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