Mountebanks Target California Real Estate Professionals
"Disguised cheaters, prating mountebanks,
And many such-like liberties of sin:"
The telephone and Internet have replaced a bench or soapbox as the modern tools of cozenage. Last week, the California Department of Real Estate issued this alert about a new scheme designed to separate brokers and salespersons from their money. According to the DRE, "scammers are identifying themselves as DRE investigators or staff members who then notify the licensees that they are under investigation, or subject to a citation or other disciplinary action, and must pay DRE to clear their license". The alert advises that these scammers may be "spoofing" the DRE's telephone number.
The DRE provides that following advice:
- DRE staff will never contact you and demand money or payment without a formal administrative action being filed against you. If your license is subject to discipline, DRE will send you a formal document – such as an accusation or citation - via certified mail to the address you have on-record with DRE;• DRE will never ask or require you to wire money to us;
- If you do have a fine or penalty payment to make to DRE, the payee must be the Department of Real Estate. You will never make a DRE payment to an individual;
- If you receive an email or telephone call from a person claiming to be a DRE staff member and you are unsure, do not provide them with any personal information. Contact DRE call center at 1-877-373-4542 and follow the prompts to speak to an investigator. DRE will be able to confirm whether or not the person contacting you is indeed a DRE employee;
If the phone number of the caller appears to be a DRE number, you should report the scam to the Federal Communications Commission; https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov/hc/en-us/articles/115002234203-Unwanted-Calls-Phone