Houston-area Realtors and real estate agents, especially female ones, need to be on the lookout for a “foot fetish creep” who’s been targeting local agents, the Houston Association of Realtors warned its members earlier this week.
According to a safety alert issued by the association, it has recently received calls from several members about a “foot fetish creep,” who’s apparently targeted women off and on for several years.
The HAR alert stated that the man has been on both HAR’s and local law enforcement’s radar for some time.
According to the HAR alert, the man typically targets female agents whose photographs are featured in ads in various print publications around the greater Houston area.
The man calls the agents, identifies himself as “Andy” or “Eddie," and asks to be shown vacant properties with prices above a certain dollar figure.
But then things get weird.
While he is on the phone with the female agent, the man asks the agent to describe her footwear and will usually request that she take off her shoes for “improved cell phone reception.”
According to HAR, in some cases, the man also asks whether the agent has a pedicure and asks her to describe her nail polish.
One of the main issues for the agents is that it’s “virtually impossible” to tell when the man is calling because he calls from a “blocked” phone number, meaning that his phone number doesn’t show up on most cell phones, HAR said.
According to HAR, at least one brokerage invested in a special service that exposes blocked numbers, which aided police in an earlier investigation into the “foot fetish creep.”
One way to deter the man’s calls is to have him speak to another man, as he “tends to abruptly end his calls when he speaks to a male,” HAR said.
The HAR said that fortunately the man hasn’t harmed any HAR members thus far, beyond the agents being subjected to the man’s requests for information about the women’s shoes and feet during the calls.
“To date, most Realtors either sense that something is wrong and hang up or he hasn’t shown up when they have actually scheduled a showing,” HAR said in its alert. “The latter group has always taken a husband or boyfriend with them since they did still have an inkling that he was making somewhat odd requests.”
Although the incidents involving this man have not escalated beyond creepy phone calls so far, this situation provides another reminder of the exposed position that real estate agents operate in and what kinds of dangers they are facing.
In January, Tampa-area police asked for help from the public to find a man accused of preying on female real estate agents by luring them to showings alone and then allegedly engaging in inappropriate conduct.
Earlier in that same month, the Omaha Area Board of Realtors warned its more than 2,500 members about reports that a “suspicious character” was attempting to coerce female agents into meeting at what turned out to be fake home showings.
And in December, a Louisiana man was arrested for cyberstalking several local Realtors.
As for Houston-area Realtors and agents, they are encouraged to contact their local law enforcement if they receive a call from the man in question.
“The more complaints that law enforcement receives about this individual, the more likely it is that they will finally make this case a priority for investigation that hopefully brings about an end to the harassing calls,” HAR said.