Information & Best Practices for Real Estate Scams & Frauds

This webpage provides information and best practices on common real estate frauds and scams gathered by the Aspire North REALTORS® staff to help protect Aspire North REALTORS® members and their clients. If you have information or a resource you believe should be featured on this webpage, contact Aspire North REALTORS® at

If you believe you have been involved in a property fraud attempt, contact your...

Local Sheriff Department
Register of Deeds
and the Local FBI office (231-946-7301)

Seller Impersonation Fraud is a scam in which bad actors impersonate property owners and try to sell homes or vacant land they do not own. Below is information on how you can protect yourself and your buyers from Seller Impersonation Fraud.

Aspire North REALTORS® was contacted by the Leelanau County Register of Deeds, Jennifer L. Grant, with a public announcement that property fraud attempts have been reported by some property owners to the Leelanau County Register of Deeds. Below are a few resources and articles to help you identify and navigate potential Seller Impersonation Scams:

  • For Leelanau County, you and/or your clients can sign up for Fraud Guard Alerts to register your name with the Leelanau County Register of Deeds so you will be contacted by email when a document is recorded with your name on it. Giving you an early warning of property fraud being committed in your name.
  • For Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, and Kalkaska County you can receive the same free notification service through
  • Seller Impersonation Scams are a nationwide issue and the Colorado Association of REALTORS® wrote a succinct and helpful article on the ways REALTORS® can protect themselves and their clients. Ways that REALTORS® can protect themselves and their clients include:
    • Meet the seller in person and verify their identity
    • Fraudsters often want the property listed at below market values for cash-only sales.
    • Never allow a seller to arrange their own notary closing.
    • Make sure you use a trusted title company or closing attorney to coordinate the exchange of closing documents and funds.
    • Scammers tend to look for vacant land or second homes – properties are often paid in full.
    • With these types of scams, communication is always through email.

For more information, or if you would like to report what you believe to be a property fraud attempt, contact your local register of deeds and/or the Aspire North REALTORS® Office at 231-947-2050.

More Information on Real Estate Fraud on Vacant and Unencumbered Property

Courtesy of Michigan REALTORS® is information on common wire fraud schemes known to occur during the closing process on single-family residences. There are a number of best practices that can help REALTORS® protect clients and help to protect themselves from wire fraud.

  1. Brokerages should make sure that every individual employed within their firm is aware of these types of scams. 
  2. REALTORS® should make certain that their clients are also aware of these types of scams (especially when representing cash buyers). 
  3. REALTORS® should avoid electronically storing personal, identifying client information, such as wire instructions. The best way to avoid information hacking is to avoid having the information in the first place. 
  4. REALTORS® should implement a brokerage policy on network security and the use of secure internet connections. 
  5. If a REALTOR® must collect electronic information which personally identifies a client, the Realtor® should only keep the information for as long as absolutely necessary, and then take appropriate steps to ensure that the information is properly disposed of. 
  6. A brokerage should implement a protocol that is understood and followed by all employees, and that lays out a course of action in the event of a wire fraud scheme or electronic data breach. Such protocol would consist of: 
    • Immediately notifying any bank/financial institution that could stop the wire transfer 
    • Notifying the FBI and local police via the Internet Crime Complaint Center 
    • Notifying the National Association of REALTORS® and Michigan REALTORS® so that alerts can be sent out to other REALTORS® 

If you or a client discover a fraudulent transfer, time is of the essence. First, contact your financial institution and request a recall of the funds. Different financial institutions have varying policies; it is important to know what assistance your financial institution will provide when attempting to recover funds. Second, contact your local FBI office (Traverse City FBI Office, 231-946-7301) and report the fraudulent transfer. Law enforcement may be able to assist the financial institution in recovering funds. Finally, regardless of dollar loss, file a complaint with or, for BEC/EAC victims, The IC3 will be able to assist both the financial institutions and law enforcement in the recovery efforts.

For more information to protect yourself and your clients against wire fraud check out this Letter of the Law article from Michigan REALTORS®.