Media Coverage

Scammers are conning homebuyers out of their down payment

$52,660.57.

It’s a number Shannyn Allan knows by heart. That’s how much money she painstakingly saved for a 20 percent down payment and closing costs on her dream home — one with a claw-foot tub and enough room to run her fundraising group for dog rescues.

It was “the only house in San Antonio in our price range,” she said. 

And it’s how much money the first-time homebuyer nearly lost this spring to an increasingly common scam.

“It was a nightmare every single day,” Allan said of the three-week ordeal. “I almost lost the house.”

Variations of so-called email access scams have become a $5.3 billion problem affecting businesses and consumers in all sectors, the FBI warned in a May public service announcement.

The bureau’s notice called out real estate transactions as a trending forum for the scam, targeting “all participants … including buyers, sellers, agents, and lawyers.” In particular, complaints to the FBI from victimized title companies jumped 480 percent in 2016.

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