Police Investigating Scam Following NBC 6 Report

A scammer trying to sell vacant lots. NBC 6 investigates the scheme and what police are doing to track those behind it.

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We met Alfred Thomas after someone tried to sell his lot in Miami without his knowledge. 

“I said this is a fraud. This is a scam,” Thomas told NBC 6 at the time.

NBC 6 Investigators found the same scammer tried to do it to another man.

“I’m like ‘Ma’am, I’m not selling my property and she was like oh…(expletive)," he said.

NBC 6 is not identifying him because he worries it could happen again. We will refer to him as Andrew.

Andrew said it had happened to him two separate times.

“Whoever this guy was. He was able to do everything, electronically,” he said. 

NBC 6 Investigators located Andrew after we saw his Brownsville lot listed on Zillow along with the phone number the scammer was using.

“I never put my property on Zillow,” Andrew said.

After NBC 6 reached out to Zillow, the listing was removed from the website. The company told us they get information on properties from the MLS database.

In a statement, Gina Cole from Zillow, also wrote, “Zillow goes to great lengths to police activity and fully inform our users of the existence of scams and how to protect themselves.”

Cole went on to say they monitor activity on the site in “a number of different ways and if a listing is found to be fraudulent, it is removed from Zillow.” 

Andrew said the paperwork was already complete and signed but he was able to stop the deal right before money changed hands. He said the buyer then quick-claimed the property back to him. 

“They were about to wire him $90,000 dollars,” he said. 

“It’s just a web of fraud and theft that spans several jurisdictions,” said Miami Police Assistant Chief Armando Aguilar.

Following our first story, the department launched an investigation into Alfred Thomas’ case.

Aguilar said the scammer used a real name that wasn't his, a real address in Houston that is not his, and a real driver’s license photo of someone else.

Miami PD used facial recognition technology to locate the victim of identity theft in Houston. 

“As life moves away from face to face contact and moves more towards the internet, we just think we’re going to see more and more of these cases” Aguilar said. 

Miami PD also referred the case to Boca Raton Police because one of the title companies is based there and to the Houston Police Department because that’s where the real man on the driver’s license lives.

Boca Raton PD confirmed they are investigating. 

“If we’re lucky the perpetrator is operating somewhere in the United States,” Aguilar said. 

Like any other scam, finding the real person behind is difficult.

NBC 6 Investigators sent emails and called the phone number the scammer was using during the deals.

After our first story aired, we received an unexpected response in an email stating “I’m here what going on.” 

The scammer didn’t answer our next questions but we noticed a man’s name next to the email address.

NBC 6 Investigators researched the name listed on the email and found records showing he is the owner of a vacant lot in Hollywood.

That lot was also for sale. We do not know if the owner is the scammer or just another victim.

NBC 6 Investigators reached out to him and the real estate company selling the lot. We have not yet heard back. 

As for Andrew, he said he put a small mortgage on his property and turned it into an LLC hoping there are more hoops to jump through if he is targeted again. 

“If you never put eyes on the guy…’come on man…come on man…you can’t do that,’” he said. 

Experts say it’s important to check the status of your property every quarter. Police also recommend getting a credit or property monitoring service. 

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