18

I met a guy online and we FaceTimed and used Skype to make sure that we both were the people in the pictures. He’s from Estonia but lives in Alabama. He had to go home because his mom passed away but he says he wants to move to my home town when he comes back. He asked me to go look at a $500,000 house for him and said that he wanted to buy it. He then asked me for my full name, email address, address, phone number (which he had already), and my bank account number. He said he wanted to wire the money to me once his house there sold and then have me hold on to the rest of the money until he got here. He’s never asked me for money and once I asked if he needed some but he said no, that he should give me money not me give him money. I’m confused. I like him but I won’t give out my information unless I truly know and trust someone. However, when I told him that I didn’t know if I felt comfortable enough to give him that information yet, he said he felt hurt that I would feel that way and then he blocked me from everything. He never tried to talk me into it again, just blocked me.

  • 13
    Yes. Be glad he ran away. – A C Jul 21 at 19:30
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    All you need to do is read the title to know the answer is yes. – Evorlor Jul 21 at 20:47
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    @Evorlor I've heard stories that there once was a "is this scam?" question that hadn't actual scam going on. – Džuris Jul 21 at 21:34
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    He blocked you because he realized you weren't going to fall for it, and he didn't want to waste time reading and replying to your questions. – Steve-O Jul 21 at 23:05
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    @Džuris See I'm supposedly eligible for an inheritance from a distant relative. Offer appears to be legitimate for the one example I'm aware of on PF&M that wasn't a scam. – TripeHound Jul 22 at 7:45
52

People do not ask strangers to buy houses for them.

Apart from all the other reasons, you are going to have to engage a lawyer or other professional to do the actual transaction, and that is something he could do by picking up a phone.

Also, seriously, what are the chances that a person you meet randomly online happens to want to move to your town that week?

It's a scam. Run away, or report to the police. If he really were in Alabama police could catch him, but of course he's not.

  • 5
    In the USA, there's a specialist craft called a licensed real estate agent who handles all aspects of the sale and is your advocate through the process. Her services are free for buyers (her paycheck is a 3% commission paid by the seller of the house you ultimately do buy). Lawyers are not needed for ordinary home sales because law and standard practices protect everyone. As such, there is no earthly reason for OP's mystery friend to use anyone but a licensed Agent, and she's competent and free. – Harper Jul 21 at 18:05
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    I believe a real estate agent is covered by the phrase " or other professional." – barbecue Jul 21 at 19:54
  • Scam and or money laundry/theft, using OP as a man in the middle to process and pay out the stolen/laundry money with no trace of the person responsible. – Jonast92 Jul 22 at 15:30
42

I met a guy online

Scam

Does this really need elaboration?

The simple fact is: What he claims to need from you is something he can readily obtain from any Realtor, so there's no earthly reason for him to deal with you. Further, you are not a licensed real estate agent, and he wants you to step into the role of one. That should be warning enough, and in fact it is warning.

The personality test

He has limited time to scam people. He doesn't have time to work a long scam on everyone and hope a few are gullible at the end. He needs to exclude the streetwise people early, so he can focus his limited bandwidth on the truly gullible. So he does outrageous things early, specifically to warn you off. If you do not recognize the intentional warning signs he is giving you, then you're at his mercy!

So the "wanting your bank account" and "asking you to be an amateur Realtor" serve the dual purpose of moving the scam forward but also screening you for gullibility. You should sever contact now, and he won't be surprised.

Real Realtors

Even if this were legit (it really isn't!), the licensed real estate agents in your town are going to have a big problem with that. Keep in mind. Almost all sales, are through licensed Real Estate agents. The seller agrees to pay 6% sales commission, usually split 3%/3% with the seller's and buyer's licensed Realtors. This means your friend ought to be using a licensed Real Estate agent since her wage is already covered by the seller. It's a no-brainer for your friend to contact literally any licensed Realtor in your town, and there are many... prove his bona-fides and that Real Estate agent should cheerfully give him free services, since again, the fees are prepaid. (and Realtors are accustomed to deals failing and they just eat the commission loss when that happens).

And by the way, Real Estate agents don't handle money. That's handled by the escrow company, and that's not like hokey eBay "escrow" companies. The real escrow company isn't going to take any wooden nickels, and they won't pay any advance fees.

That's why he's trying to scam you :)

So on the off chance this deal is legit, tell him that real estate works differently in the US, and he needs to work through a licensed Realtor not you, and refer him to the first Realtor you find in the phone book. Easy peasy!

(Realtor is a "brand" of real estate agent, a club most of them belong to. It's possible to be a licensed real estate agent without being a Realtor.)

  • 'refer him to the first Realtor you find in the phone book' why do that to the realtor? Just drop all communication. – jcm Jul 20 at 23:46
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    "refer him to the first Realtor you find in the phone book". LOL it's 2019, Harper. Google killed that stunningly useful resource a decade ago. – RonJohn Jul 21 at 1:16
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    @RonJohn Which means all the old ones you still have around, list businesses stable enough to have lasted 10 years (or defunct). Their usefulness only grows with time. This is especially true for locksmiths, where Google top SERPs are spammed solid with lead generators and outright scammers. – Harper Jul 21 at 2:09
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    @RonJohn: Not so. I have a phone book for my area (in US), issued January of this year. Mostly Yellow Pages ads, with half a dozen for real estate agents. – jamesqf Jul 21 at 17:48
  • @jamesqf interesting. I haven't seen a phone book in almost 10 years. Cell phones killed the WP, and Google the YP. – RonJohn Jul 21 at 17:53
8

This is a classic scam. Stay away. Look up the "Advance Fee Fraud" on Google.

4

This has scam written all over it. Firstly, who buys a house through someone else. Then he suddenly has a reason to be overseas? Also, what a complete co-incidence that you met him online and he also wants to buy a house in your town - of all the towns in the world, of all the towns in the US - it just happens to be your town. There are just too much co-incidences for me.

It was the wire transfer that really pointed out to me it was a con. Never go for wire transfers, there are other ways. He should also be paying the real estate agents or banks directly. There is no need to use you as a middle man at all.

protected by Ganesh Sittampalam Jul 21 at 9:53

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