Realtors in the state of Florida are being targeted and threatened with the suspension of their license as part of an elaborate scam allegedly perpetrated by a fake Realtor group, the state’s actual Realtor group warned on Monday.
Florida Realtors, which boasts 165,000 members in 55 boards and associations, issued a warning to its members this week after Realtors in the state recently began receiving letters from the “Florida Board of Realtors” that claim the Realtors real estate license is in danger of suspension.
The issue? The “Florida Board of Realtors” doesn’t exist.
And according to Florida Realtors CEO Bill Martin, whoever is perpetrating the scheme went through a great deal of effort to make the group appear legitimate.
“It’s a scam,” Martin said. “And it’s not a simple scam. High-tech criminals put a great deal of work and planning into this.
According to Martin, Realtors in Florida called the legitimate Realtor group after receiving “final notice” letters from the “Florida Board of Realtors,” which threatened the Realtor with a license suspension unless the Realtor submitted a $225 renewal fee.
“Failure to respond with your 2017 Agent Board Listing may lead to closure of board listing,” the letter states. “Response required to be included in the Agency listing.”
According to Florida Realtors, Realtors sent in copies of the letter, which appears to be professionally done. The group also said that the letters include a “Make check payable to:” address that appears to be a post office in Deerfield Beach, Fla.
Martin said that the scam came to light in the last few days after Realtors all over the state began receiving the fake letters.
But the scam isn’t limited to the letters.
According to Florida Realtors, the letter also directs recipients to floridaboardofrealtors.org, which presents itself as a legitimate, functioning website.
But clicking on any of the links listed on the site shows that the website does have much detail beyond a few high-level landing pages. Most links are dead-ends.
Florida Realtors General Counsel Margy Grant said the group is already in contact with various governmental agencies about the letters.
“For now, members should ignore these demand letters, and we ask brokers and agents to spread this message to everyone working in the Florida real estate industry,” Grant said.
“Florida Realtors is still investigating and in contact with Florida authorities. It’s now also in front of the Senior Assistant Attorney General in the Economic Crimes section in Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office,” Grant continued.
Grant also said that the group contacted both Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation and the Florida Real Estate Commission about the scam, and is considering legal action.
“Be vigilant. Be safe. And tell everyone you know,” Grant concluded. “Criminals created a truly impressive fake website, sent a complex fake letter and successfully alarmed Realtors across the state.”