Avoid being scammed


Hendrik Hymans of AtoZ Home InspectionsHendrik here from A to Z Home Inspections.

Just wanted to let you know of a scam out there targeted at Home Inspectors.

Here’s how it works.

  1. Potential client emails you that they need a home inspection ASAP.    Their 1st e-mail usually says something like:   “I  would like to schedule an inspection please get back to me ASAP.”

Red Flags: 

  1. There is very little information in this email to act on, no listing, no phone number, etc
  2. Note that they need it ASAP!
  3. Poor Grammar
  1. You send a quote letter/response.
  2. Client Emails you that they are in the hospital and need a home inspection done, and again asks How Much is your inspection?

2nd e-mail from “Client” says something like::

“Thanks for your response,I am hearing impaired and i just had a surgery,I believe the best means i can get across to you right now would be via e-mail or text I can send you my number if you want,Actually am in the process of buying a house for my retired parent,I want the general inspection done as soon as possible..

Let me know if you would be available i will contact the previous owner to have the keys ready and i will also like to know how much the inspection would cost.

(Full House Home Inspection: 1,800 square feet and Maintenance Inspections with Written Report)
NOTE:-I will get back to you in my next email with the address and any further details you would need.”

Red Flags:

  1. they are referring to two types of inspections, House inspection and Maintenance Inspection
  2. hey ask for a quote that has already been supplied, indicating this may be a robot script
  3. the e-mail has typos and poor grammar
  4. tell-tale phrases that indicated something might not be quite right e.g. “I will contact the previous owner
  1. You ask for listing or address, more information on the property and provide another quote.

3rd e-mail from Client will provide just the address

(e.g. ) “The address of the property is 208 Jersey Tea Circle, Ottawa, ON please get back to me with the quote as soon as possible.”

Red Flags: 

  1. The house is not listed with MLS or with FSBO Listing companies. i.e. Grapevine
  2. Urgency mentioned again.
  3. You send an updated quote…

4th e-mail from Client goes something like this

“Hello ,

Thanks for the quote. I am OK with the quote and i would have everything put in place for the inspection,first of all i will like you to know that the house if for sale by the owner and not by Realtor,I would like you to know the house is still occupied and it will be vacant next weekend,I want you to know that the caretaker will bring the  key to you and you can go there for the inspection,i need you to send me your full name and office address and a valid phone number as requested by the caretaker he would need it to contact you to schedule the inspection and get the house keys to your office immediately they receive their balance,I will like to know what kind of credit cards you accept for payment so i can make the payment asap,I would have to seek a little favor from you and i would be happy if you can be able to grant me the favor i seek from you.Due to my present health condition,i would provide you my credit card details for you to charge for the total cost of the service and also i would like you to charge an extra sum of $ which would be sent to the caretaker who would take care of getting utilities transferred over, termite contract for the house,I am sorry if i am asking for too much but i would have forwarded the balance to him myself but i am held down with health issues right now and am still at the hospital and the caretaker stated he wants the balance by bank transfer that’s why i am seeking your favor on this,i would be willing to compensate you if you can assist me on this.

Your urgent response would be appreciated.

Warm Regards”

 

Red Flags: 

  1. Client says they want you for the inspection…but they need you to do a “small favour” (and they’ll compensate you in addition to performing the home inspection.)
  2. Urgency is always the key…The entire length of exchanges was 2 weeks! What urgency?
  3. Homeowner reference is gone, now it’s a caretaker.
  4. Very little, if any, discussion about the house, potential problems with the house, parents they are purchasing the house for, etc.
  5. The “Client” makes simple grammatical errors.
  1. You respond yes, I’ll help out.

Client again states they are in the hospital and need additional help in getting this inspection done and offers the following info and direction for the “small favour”.  See Text below verbatim.

5th e-mail from Client

Hello Hendrik,

I am sorry for the late response I have had a rough weekend in the hospital and I can wait to leave here, I want you to charge your service fee which is $350 plus credit card processing fee 4% and i need you to charge $2000 which would be sent to the house caretaker, I will send his bank details to you once the funds gets to your account,you would find my credit card details below:-

Credit Card Information’s
 
CARD TYPE – Visa Card
CARD NUMBER – Ending in 3485 ( have deleted the numbers to protect the credit card victim.)
CARD CVV –  420
CARD EXP – 04 | 2018
Card Billing : 33 Maple Cr BEACONSFIELD QUEBEC H9W 4T3
Amount to charge:  $2444

I will be looking out for your response with payment confirmation asap.

Red Flags:

  1. They need you to charge their credit card (Probably stolen) for the inspection fee and the “small favour”. In this case it’s a $2000 charge…a little much for a caretaker (or should it be the homeowner as stated in one of the earlier letters) Note as well there is no name given for the credit card number supplied.)
  2. No additional compensation for performing the favour is mentioned.
  3. 1st it was a homeowner you were dealing with, now you are dealing with a 3rd party caretaker.
  4. Again urgency is a key factor.

My Responses and their final email

“Hi there Cheryl,

Everything looks OK at my end.  I can charge the $350 and maybe $50 for the caretaker to come out and open up the place for inspection but I am uncomfortable with any fee more than that.  

If you want to give someone $2000, then I recommend a bank transfer or e-transfer for that.  More secure for you.

Hendrik”

Their Final Response

“Please dont charge my card at all then if you cant help as agreed, thank you for your time.”

My Final Response

“No worries, Good Luck on your Home Purchase. Hendrik”

Scam Summary.

(annotated by Len Inkster)

A lot of people get taken with this sort of scam.  As Hendrik said “I almost got taken with this, but I have been down this road before while looking for a car on-line. That particular encounter lead to the revelation that the auto trader website and several auto dealerships websites were hacked by organized crime! I was on CBC news regarding this story.”  Hendrik goes on to say “This has the same tone, characteristics, and tactics as I encountered while shopping for a car. So it’s probably organized crime as well!”.

Hendrik is likely right.  Cyber-Crime is on the increase globally, and the cyber-criminals, operating from remote locations use a series of tactics to steal identities and then use those identities to scam money.

Hendrik suggests things to watch for on scams that target Home Inspectors are:

  1. Identity…Who is this person?
  2. Urgency…Always a key factor…They want the deal done quickly!
  3. Only one line of communication available – email!  If you can’t speak with them then it’s probably a scam.
  4. Grammar.  I know it’s sounds picky but if someone can’t type up a simple request with-out making several mistakes, then something is out of place.
  5. Health.  Why someone would mention health is beyond me.  People rarely talk about their health issues with close ones let alone strangers.
  6. Changing up of the people you are to deal with.
  7. Requesting an usually high sum of money in relation to our standard fees.
  8. Offering to pay the credit charges…Who does that?
  9. No name on the credit card
  10. Little mention of the services to be received.
  11. Switching up the deal.

Hendrik wanted us to get the word  out on this one to fellow members so they don’t get caught up being an accessory to fraud.

We’d like to thank Hendrik for his contribution.  People can contact Hendrik in Ottawa by phone at 613-321-0095 or by e-mail at Hendrik@AtoZHomeInspections.ca

No scammers please, Hendrik is wise to you!


About Hendrik Hymans

Hendrik Hymans

Certified Master Inspector
Algonquin College Home Inspector Graduate
WETT - Wood Energy Technology Transfer Certified Level 1 Inspector
EcoEnergy Advisor
Member in Good Standing with:
  • The Certified Master Inspection Board - CMI
  • Ontario Association of Certified Home Inspectors - OntarioACHI
  • Ontario Association of Home Inspectors - OAHI
  • Canadian Association of Property and Home Inspectors - CAPHI
  • Wood Energy Transfer Technology Inc. - WETT Inc
You can contact Hendrik via email at Hendrik @ AtoZHomeInspections.ca or call him directly at (613) 321-0095
Check out Hendrik's website for more information on his services at AtoZHomeInspections
Hendrik performs home inspections in the cities of Kanata, Barrhaven, Constance Bay, Nepean , Bells Corners, Ottawa and Surrounding Areas.
No Cottage is too far away, no Inspection too small.