ORLANDO, Fla., March 6, 2017 – Florida Realtors® is warning Realtors and real estate licensees in Florida to be on the alert for a fraudulent letter scam. The “Florida Board of Realtors” does not exist, but Florida Realtors members have been receiving a “Final Notice” bill from them in the mail, saying their real estate licenses are in jeopardy. Complaints have come into Florida Realtors from all parts of the state.
“It’s a scam,” says Florida Realtors CEO Bill Martin. “And it’s not a simple scam. High-tech criminals put a great deal of work and planning into this.
The form comes with a threat: “Failure to respond with your 2017 Agent Board Listing may lead to closure of board listing. Response required to be included in the Agency listing.”
The scam came to light over the past two days when agents, brokers and association executives started calling Florida Realtors. Many submitted copies of a letter that appears legitimate. The “Make check payable to:” address appears to be a post office in Deerfield Beach, Fla.
The letter also includes a website, floridaboardofrealtors.org. The website not only appears legitimate, it’s very professional. However, most of the links don’t work. Blogs in their “archive” appear to stretch back a few years, for example, but no content comes up when you click. The same is true for many other links.
“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,” says Florida Realtors General Counsel Margy Grant. “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.
“Be vigilant. Be safe. And tell everyone you know,” says Grant. “Criminals created a truly impressive fake website, sent a complex fake letter and successfully alarmed Realtors across the state.”
The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) and the Florida Real Estate Commission (FREC) have been notified of the scam. Florida Realtors legal team continues to investigate the scheme and is considering legal action, according to Grant.