There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays... Except for Victims of Real Estate Fraud and Flipping Frenzies

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Real estate and mortgage fraud is taking its toll on Americans across the country -- and is rising expontentially. Real Estate superstar, author and speaker Ralph Roberts has embarked on a campaign to stop real estate fraud.

During this joyous holiday season, when most Americans are gathering with family and friends, many others are coping with the impact of real estate fraud. Some have lost their homes to con artists preying on foreclosure situations, others have unwittingly become straw buyers in mortgage fraud set ups, while others are hiring criminal attorneys in the hopes that their naiveté will not ruin their credit scores for life and not land them in jail. How did the American dream turn into such a nightmare?

From handmade signs stuck on the side of local roads and on telephone poles to eBay listings seeking investors, late night infomercials and newspaper ads promising big cash at closings, real estate fraud and mortgage fraud have become part of America’s landscape. The threat to families, communities and a national economy closely allied with real estate values cannot be underestimated.

“There is no doubt in my mind that the start of this century will be remembered as the decade of real estate scandals,” said Ralph Roberts, nationally recognized real estate expert, author and speaker and creator of http://www.flippingfrenzy.com.

“Every law enforcement agency, every District Attorney and Sherriff’s department I talk to is astounded at the sheer number of people being scammed, ripped off and financially destroyed through these scams. If we do not educate consumers and all professionals to protect themselves, there will be no end in sight.”

Roberts, who has been a national Top Superstar Realtor for the past 18 consecutive years, is no newcomer to real estate – yet even his office fell prey to scam artists. Today, Roberts is spearheading educational programs for professionals and consumers, building an information central website, http://www.flippingfrenzy.com and blogging to keep website visitors up to date with the latest occurrences.

As the word spreads through online communities, networks of real estate professionals and a website that is reaching a national audience, http://www.flippingfrenzy.com, American citizens are starting to respond. In mid-December, three very frightened individuals came to Ralph’s office, anxious because they had learned by reading his website that what they had experienced was real estate fraud. Their fear is very real -- and so is the possibility that they may face criminal charges, even though they had no idea that they were being involved in fraudulent transactions.

Ralph’s anti-fraud efforts include speaking to real estate professionals, mortgage professionals, lawyers, appraisers, notary publics and title industry professionals. His presentation at the National Association of Realtors (NAR) for Superstar Realtors earlier this year was a great success, as was a seminar for real estate brokers held at the Real Estate Education Center. The seminar, which will soon be available as a download at http://www.flippingfrenzy.com, was presented for real estate agents and brokers who need to know how to protect themselves, their clients and their businesses when presented with a questionable buy or sell transaction.

So how do you keep your home safe from real estate fraud?

  •     A certain percentage of real estate fraud transactions could be completely eliminated by educated consumers refusing to sign blank documents or take part in questionable sales or purchases.
  •     The promise of fast cash to pay credit card bills is tempting – but it’s not how you want to remember the holiday season.
  •     Take a good look at the HUD 1 form – if there’s a discrepancy in numbers, you may be headed into serious trouble.
  •     Any time someone advises you “don’t worry, this is fine,” it’s time to start worrying. Real estate transactions are complex, but they should be straight-forward.
  •     When anyone advises you to deposit money slowly into the bank, a huge light bulb should go off – pay attention. Large legal deposits do not require a slow deposit stream.
  •     Never sign any documents that are blank, never sign anything that you do not understand and make sure that your own independent advisor explains everything to you. That includes federal forms that have been retyped or where the print is almost too small to read.
  •     More tips will be updated at the http://www.flippingfrenzy.com blog as they come in and as we learn more about how to thwart real estate fraud. Educated consumers are the first line of defense.

Ralph Roberts, recognized by TIME Magazine as "the best-selling REALTOR® in America,” is the owner of Ralph Roberts Realty, LLC, and author of Walk Like a Giant, Sell Like a Madman, Real Wealth By Investing in Real Estate and 52 Weeks of Sales Success. He has been the number one residential real estate agent for over a decade and is a popular motivational speaker. Ralph Roberts Realty, LLC is located in Warren, Michigan and online at http://www.ralphroberts.com, tel. (586)751-0000.

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Shari Goldstein

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