Can a Con Artist Swindle a Buyer and Move Her Across State Lines?
Can a con artist swindle a buyer and move her across state lines? Yes, evidently. I previously met a buyer on Zillow. She was relocating from Texas to Sacramento. We talked for months before her visit. She said both she and her husband were moving here as she had family in the area. Her husband had inherited several million dollars from outside the USA from a deceased relative. He was about to retire as an engineer on an oil tanker job at sea.
She was interested in looking at homes for sale in Sacramento. Their attorney was finalizing the transfer of funds to the U.S. What a sweet person she was. She had retired a few years prior and said that her husband was much younger with a thick accent. He was raising two young children as his wife had tragically died young, leaving his kids motherless.
In the two days of showing her property, she talked more about the situation. Several things struck me as very odd about her husband. She had never met any of his friends or family. He was virtually a ghost. She had never seen a driver’s license, a credit card, in fact, no papers whatsoever were ever observed. He left no belongings at her home on his visits, he came and went with just a suitcase.
Before driving out to Sacramento, she packed all of her belongings. The movers put them on a truck to be delivered to her husband’s home in the Bay Area. He owned a home there as his young kids were in a Bay Area boarding school. She had not yet met his kids. She drove to the Bay Area to meet the moving van. There was not a key when she arrived, so she called a locksmith and went in.
A short time later, a man showed up walked in the front door. He asked her, “Who are you; what are you doing in my house?” He showed her his rental agreement, guess what happened next? The owner was not her husband. She said there must be some mistake? The current owners did not know her husband. Wow. How can a con man swindle a buyer? Marry her and then disappear.
My buyer called her husband and he answered. She confronted him about the rental. He said it was all a big mistake and claimed he was forced back out to sea and hung up. Was her marriage legal? She doesn’t know if that is his real name. Can a con artist swindle a buyer? It’s possible.
She searched his name on Facebook and other sites. She was now sleeping in her car as she was so embarrassed. The moving company had all her worldly possessions, and she had no money to ship things back to Texas. I offered to put her up in a hotel, but she said no thank you as it was time to go home. She had her little dog and said they were leaving to go back to Texas. Luckily, her home had not yet sold.
As fate would have it, another woman had posted about him on a website. She posted a warning to beware he was a fraud. He had reportedly told this other woman he was in the Black Sea of Mexico and found a bag of cash on a ship. He asked her for money to pay the fees to move the cash. Red flags. This other victim immediately became suspicious and tracked down the URL on his email address; it was in Africa.
Mary (let’s call her) and I are ongoing Facebook pen pals. She is doing fine now and much more careful. Caring for the people we help is an ongoing responsibility we take seriously. As Realtors, we may not always sell a home on every appointment, but perhaps we have an opportunity to show compassion. Weintraub & Wallace Realtors with RE/MAX Gold look forward to helping you with your real estate dreams. We can be reached at 916-233-6759.