The following Broker Practice Advisory was originally delivered to licensees on March 8, 2023.
It has been brought to the attention of the Division of Real Estate of a growing scam involving unlicensed individuals contacting listing agents in an attempt to gain access to properties. Usually, the unlicensed individual is impersonating an actual real estate licensee and is reaching out to the listing agent, likely by email or text, but also by telephone, to arrange a showing under the auspices that they encountered
some type of “error or problem” with the showing service.
By attempting to obtain information from the listing agent or the listing agent’s staff, the unlicensed individual might be able to determine if the property is occupied or vacant and may be able to gain access to the property directly through the listing agent. Some important considerations about this scam for real estate licensees to understand are:
• This practice may be used to access properties that are for sale or for rent.
• This practice may be used to access residential or commercial properties.
• The purposes for this fraudulent activity could be varied, but it poses a serious
risk to physical safety and the property alike.
A best practice is that consumers (sellers, tenants) should be made aware of any scheduled showings in advance. Furthermore, Colorado real estate licensees should be aware that as the listing agent, you should be sure to exercise due diligence. Listing agents and their staff should take additional steps to identify the true identity of any party attempting to obtain information before providing any confidential information or instructions on accessing any property.
The unlicensed individual’s behavior is designed to take advantage of the professional courtesy of listing agents and their staff, which is a form of social engineering. Social Engineering can be defined as the use of deception to manipulate into divulging confidential or personal information that may be used for fraudulent purposes.
Activities such as this might be a precursor to wire fraud. Accordingly, if you are the victim of, or witness suspicious activity, please contact your local authorities and the Colorado Bureau of Investigations.
For more information, please visit www.reportwirefraud.com.
This has been a Colorado Division of Real Estate Practice Advisory.