Curt: Now I'm joined by the juris doctor, notice the stethoscope, Jim Cioffi, well-known attorney.
James Cioffi: Nice to see you, Curt.
Curt: Thanks for being here. Let's talk about some real estate scams that you've seen lately. You see them all.
James: Oh, unfortunately. An Orlando attorney recently had a real estate closing. He gave the seller a check. She left the office, came back 5 minutes later, said, "I'm sorry, I changed my mind. Would you please wire me the funds?" So he said, "Okay, I'll be happy to accommodate you." Took back the check, wired her the funds, and then 2 weeks later he realized that she had taken a photo with her phone. Many of the banks, you can deposit a check by just taking a photograph, not bringing the check to the bank. She had taken the check photo, deposited it that way, and then he wire transferred it, so he was out that money.
Curt: She got paid twice.
James: She got paid twice.
Curt: And it was all with a free app. What other kind of--what other kind of ways can you be scammed through a bank transfer?
James: Well, I'd like the public to be aware that there are two types of transfers. You can contact your bank to wire transfer funds to an account, or you can actually debit your account through the automatic clearinghouse, where those funds are taken from your account. You tell them to just transfer to another account. If they do it through an automatic clearinghouse, they actually have the right to withdraw those funds at a later date. So in my particular instance, the funds were sent to my account through an automatic clearinghouse transfer. They were deposited into my trust account at my office, but then a few days later the person withdrew them without my knowledge. So luckily, my bank alerted me to that fact, but the average person who might be involved in a transaction would not be alerted or might not find out about that and think that they still have those funds in their account.
Curt: An automatic clearinghouse is like an open pipe between two accounts. And they can go this way and it can go back.
James: Very frightening.
Curt: You told me earlier about a publishers clearinghouse scam?
Curt: I know it's not real estate, but I love this.
James: A lot of people are praying on our seniors in our community. And unfortunately, this woman that--a client of mine received this phone call and they said, "Your husband has won the sweepstakes. Would you like the prize patrol to come to the house, or would you like to come down to Miami and retrieve the check?" And she didn't really want to go through the prize patrol, so she said, "We'll come to Miami and retrieve the check?" Well, the person on the phone said, "Well, send us the $250 processing fee and we'll be happy for you to come to Miami and pick up your check." So she called me and I said, "They've never done that with a $250 processing fee, so don't pay it." They even had a person call and say it was the attorney for the sweepstakes, verifying that that was their procedure.
Curt: Oh, so the attorney called and said it was okay.
James: But luckily, she didn't send the money and we knew it was a scam, so we saved her that $250. But they pray on seniors because a lot of people would be unsuspecting and pay the $250. >> Curt: So the take home lesson here, folks, call an attorney and find out what's happening really.
Curt: Jim Cioffi, juris doctor. Thanks for being here.
James: Thank you.
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