In the bustling real estate market of New York’s largest cities—New York City, Buffalo, Rochester, Yonkers, and Syracuse—opportunistic scams are a growing concern. From mortgage fraud to Craigslist real estate schemes, residents need to stay vigilant. Here’s how to spot and avoid the most common rip-offs affecting New Yorkers today.

Mortgage Scams: Too Good to Be True Offers

Mortgage scams often lure victims with promises of unrealistically low rates or guaranteed approval. Scammers might pose as legitimate lenders and request upfront fees or private information. Always verify the credentials of any lender and be wary of any deal that requires you to pay fees before services are rendered.

Wire Scams: The Danger of Digital Transactions

With the convenience of digital transactions comes the risk of wire scams. In these schemes, scammers impersonate real estate agents or attorneys, instructing victims to wire funds to fraudulent accounts. Always confirm the receiving account details over the phone or in person, and be skeptical of any sudden changes in payment instructions.

Fake Realtor Rip-Offs: Verify Identity

Fake realtor scams involve individuals posing as licensed real estate agents without credentials. They may list properties they don’t legally represent to collect fees or personal data. Always check the licensing of the realtor you’re dealing with by visiting New York’s official Real Estate Commission website.

Craigslist Real Estate Scams: Beware of Online Listings

Craigslist and other classified websites are hotspots for real estate scams, which often list properties that don’t exist or aren’t available. Always insist on seeing a property in person before making any deposits, and never transfer money to someone you haven’t met in person.

Escrow Rip-Offs: The Trap of Fake Title Companies

In escrow scams, fraudsters pose as title or escrow agents to misdirect the deposit of funds into their accounts. Verify the legitimacy of all escrow and title companies involved in your real estate transactions by checking their licensing with state regulatory bodies.

Foreclosure Relief and Loan Modification Scams

Foreclosure relief scams target homeowners struggling to make mortgage payments by offering fake legal assistance or loan modification services. Victims are often asked to pay upfront fees. Genuine help is available through New York’s Department of Financial Services or local HUD-approved housing counselors.


The real estate market in New York’s largest cities can be a fertile ground for scammers looking to exploit uninformed buyers and sellers. By remaining vigilant and informed, you can protect yourself from becoming a victim of real estate scams. Always do your due diligence and consult with professionals before engaging in any transaction. If something seems suspicious, it’s better to err on the side of caution and verify every detail.