INDIANAPOLIS — Attorney General Todd Rokita is sounding the alarm about a new trend in real estate scams — using cryptocurrency.
“With cryptocurrency, there’s still a lot of unknowns for the general public, and it can be really confusing. That can be really fertile ground for scammers to take advantage,” Jennifer Adamany, communications manager for the Better Business Bureau serving Central Indiana (BBB), said.
Real estate scams are common. Bad actors will post fake ads for properties they don’t own or don’t exist. They’ll ask for money for move-in costs or inspections.
Real estate agent Jordan Moody, with Moody & Company with Keller Williams, has seen victims start to move in, thinking they signed a lease.
“I’ve shown up to showings before where the house is actively listed for sale, and someone has moved half their belongings into the home and they’re sitting there re-keying the front door lock,” Moody said.
Rokita warns that scammers are increasingly asking for payments in cryptocurrency, a type of online money independent of governments.
“They like the forms of money that are hard to retrieve the money to get it back, or to trace who you’re sending it to,” Adamany said.
Crypto may be confusing for many Americans, but it’s not difficult to access. Thousands of crypto ATMs are popping up across the country, likely at a gas station near you.
“They’ll likely say, go to your local gas station, and here is a QR code, and here’s how you send money through that ATM, and the money’s gone,” Adamany said.
Crypto can be difficult to trace, and the funds can be impossible to recover, but there are ways to protect yourself. Never send crypto to someone you don’t know, especially not for real estate.
“In Indiana, we have the Good Funds Law, and cryptocurrency is not money that can be used to buy real estate in Indiana,” Moody said.
Adamany said if someone is asking you to send money without seeing the property, or of the deal is too good to be true, check it out.
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