Fraudsters Abound | Urban Living
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Fraudsters Abound



As a native New Yorker, I think I know pizza. For years, I didn't order it in Utah because I couldn't find a thin, crisp slice served on a cheap paper plate. The piece of pie had to be foldable in half with the grease dripping down my arm like it did with a slice from Joe's or Ray's in Manhattan or Brooklyn.

When I moved to Utah in the 1970s, there were few choices for pizza other than lame national chains. Even today, if you review my spending, you'd be hard-pressed to find I'd ordered more than two or three pies delivered to our home in any given year, and then only for a last-minute party. Yet, much to my surprise, my Visa bill showed that I bought pizza in Texas and Ohio about a dozen times in one week. Fraud alert! I'd been hacked.

Hackers and fraudsters come in many forms these days. These jerks are selling fake surgical masks, sanitizer that wouldn't kill a single germ, forging/stealing the $1,200 stimulus checks, etc.

In real estate, there are two common frauds: 1. rental properties too good to be true and 2. fake emails that direct buyers or sellers to change where wired funds should be sent. I often get calls reporting that photos from one of my listings are showing up on a Craigslist-type website for a rental property, stating "This five-bedroom luxury home in the Avenues with a pool and four car garage is leasing for only $800 a month!" The scam is that the non-owner (criminal) will run a fake ad with someone else's house photos, get calls from eager renters and meet them at the property. The crook has already scoped out the home, sometimes even figured out how to get in (if it's vacant) and will tell the prospect that they can have the rental if they throw down a cash deposit right then and there! The "landlord" promises a key when they meet up the next day only to never be seen again.

The second fraud has surfaced in the past two years with computer hackers following a real-estate transaction and at the last minute sending out a fake email to a buyer that looks like it's from their own real estate agent, escrow officer or lender changing the wiring instructions at the last minute for the funds to close. The unsuspecting victim eager to finalize the purchase changes the wire and bam!, all the funds disappear to some mystery country and asshat fraudster.

Salt Lake County now has a service to help stop fraud via the Recorder's Office. Property Watch is free, and it notifies you if someone puts a lien /mortgage on your property without your permission. It's like the services some banks and credit card companies offer now to alert you if someone is falsely using your account. Just sign up at or call 385-468-8176 to register to keep fraudsters away from what is yours.