FUND ALERT: Scam Involving Sale of Vacant Lots
The Fund has received information about an identity theft scam involving vacant lots in Lee County. The lots are owned by people residing in foreign countries. The identities of the owners are stolen, and the imposter lists the vacant lot for sale. The imposters only communicate by e-mail, and provide deeds executed and notarized in African countries. When the Consul of one African country was consulted, he verified that the notary seal was bogus and the address the imposter/seller provided did not exist.
If you are asked to handle the sale of any vacant lot owned by any foreign person, you should
- Require that the deed be executed at the United States Consulate of the Country where the seller resides. Do not accept a deed acknowledged by a notary public or civil notary of that country.
- You should also attempt to contact the seller at the address listed with the tax collector by telephone, mail or Federal Express. If your seller is an imposter, the true seller will be notified of the scam.
- Check with the country who issued any passport the seller provides as identification to verify that the passport is valid and has not been altered. In addition to a passport, require a second piece of identification.
- Follow The Fund's procedures regarding disbursing funds. The proceeds should only be disbursed to the person in title unless the situation merits an exception as discussed in "Disburse Correctly, Disburse Directly" Fund Concept, August 2007.
If you have any questions, please contact either Underwriting or Risk Management at The Fund. An article about this scam can be found at http://www.news-press.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20081230/NEWS01/812300380.
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