Fake Sellers, Fake Landlords: What’s Real Anymore?

fake or real 1

The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) was created in 2000 by a task force that includes the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C) and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA)

Per the IC3 website, www.ic3.gov, the “mission of the Internet Crime Complaint Center is to provide the public with a reliable and convenient reporting mechanism to submit information to the Federal Bureau of Investigation concerning suspected Internet-facilitated criminal activity and to develop effective alliances with law enforcement and industry partners. Information is analyzed and disseminated for investigative and intelligence purposes to law enforcement and for public awareness.”

While IC3 tackles other types of crimes, this article focuses on internet crime specifically so it’s important to recognize how that is defined. The website clarifies this in its FAQs as “any illegal activity involving one or more components of the Internet, such as websites, chat rooms, and/or email. Internet crime involves the use of the Internet to communicate false or fraudulent representations to consumers. These crimes may include, but are not limited to, advance-fee schemes, non-delivery of goods or services, computer hacking, or employment/business opportunity schemes.”

How could this appear in the real estate world? Fake listings or wire fraud scams via email, for example, would qualify.

Who can file a complaint with IC3? Either the person directly affected by the fraud or someone on their behalf is able to file a complaint. They will ask for:

  • The victim’s name, address, telephone number and email address (your information if you’re the victim, someone else’s info if you’re filing the complaint on their behalf of another person)
  • Any financial transaction information (i.e. account information, transaction date and amount and who received the money)
  • The subject’s (aka alleged scammer) name and any information you have about them (name, address, telephone, email, website, IP address)
  • Specific details on what occurred and any other information to support your complaint

Keep all documentation regarding the situation. Should the appropriate authorities conduct an investigation, you’ll have copies readily available. 

It’s also important to note that the IC3 doesn’t conduct any investigations. It sends the complaint information to the relevant oversight authorities for them to do so.

Per the IC3 website, types of evidence that could become useful in the course of an investigation may include, but are not limited to:

  • Canceled checks
  • Credit card receipts
  • Money order receipts
  • Certified or other mail receipts
  • Wire receipts
  • Virtual currency receipts
  • Pre-paid card receipts
  • Envelopes (if you received items via FedEx, UPS, or U.S. Mail)
  • Facsimiles
  • Pamphlets or brochures
  • Phone bills
  • Printed or preferably electronic copies of emails (if printed, include full email header information)
  • Printed or preferably electronic copies of web pages
  • Hard drive images
  • PCAP files containing malicious network traffic
  • Network, host system, and/or security appliance logs
  • Copies of malware
  • Chat transcripts and/or telephone logs


We work very hard to protect our clients from these scams. If you receive a letter about the Sale of your property asking you to call a PHONE NUMBER – DO NOT, unless you actually know who it is who has written to you. This is a scam.

Please DO NOT may any payments online during your closing transaction. NOBODY will call during your house sale to ask you for payment over the phone. If in doubt during your transaction please check first with your Real Estate Agent or Real Estate Broker.

Are you being contacted by an Agent trying to enlist you with their services? Please CHECK that the Agent who has contacted you is actually FULLY LICENSED IN FLORIDA. Please check that this Agent is a Realtor. Please check that this Agent is registered under a FULLY LICENSED REAL ESTATE BROKER. ALL Agents/Realtors HAVE TO BE REGISTERED under a LICENSED REAL ESTATE BROKER/BROKERAGE in order to be able to legally work as an Agent.

Please BEWARE of possible scams. If in doubt, use caution and ask a Professional.


Michelle Baydemir


Owner/Broker at Vacay & Co Real Estate

License No: BK3133282

Member of NAR (National Association of Realtors) & ORRA (Orlando Regional Realtors Association)

Join The Discussion

Compare listings