September is broker safety month. Be sure that you have a fully charged cell phone and have it readily available – not in your purse or pocket. Program “911” and other emergency numbers into speed dial. Consider using a safety mobile app on your smart phone; several are available – some created especially for real estate brokers – and can do everything from instantly alerting others to accessing your GPS coordinates to requesting help.
For these and other important broker safety tips, view the Commission’s Safety video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3h0gydUSeZU ); North Carolina Real Estate Agency Safety Guide brochure (https://www.ncrec.gov/Brochures/Safetyguide.pdf); and www.realtor.org/safety.
The International Association of Financial Crimes Investigators (IAFCI) has selected as its Task Force of the Year Operation Wax House, a Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force including Michael B. Gray, the North Carolina Real Estate Commission’s Chief Financial Fraud Investigator. The award was presented to the Task Force and Mr. Gray at the IAFCI annual conference in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida on August 30, 2016.
IAFCI is a non-profit international organization providing services and an environment within which information about financial fraud, fraud investigation, and fraud prevention methods can be collected, exchanged and taught. It provides investigators with national and international investigative capabilities to establish effective financial crime programs. There are chapters across the US, Canada, Europe, Central and South America, Africa and Asia, and members include all levels of law enforcement, prosecution, security and other segments of the financial transaction industry. They provide training and information about financial crimes and a network to track individuals internationally.
Operation Wax House was involved in the investigation and prosecution of a multi-million dollar mortgage fraud scheme out of the Waxhaw, North Carolina area. Mr. Gray’s work has been instrumental in this and other mortgage fraud investigations, increasing the Commission’s ability to make a difference in situations in which licensed real estate brokers have actively participated in fraud.
The North Carolina Real Estate Commission would like to thank IAFCI for their consideration of this Task Force and the United States Attorney’s Office, Western District of North Carolina, Charlotte Division, for working with Commission staff to fight mortgage fraud in North Carolina
The ARELLO® Education Certification Committee has selected the North Carolina Real Estate Commission’s Broker-in-Charge Update Course, Commercial Version 2015-2016 for a Continuing Education Award. The award will be presented at the Annual Conference in Vancouver, BC on September 23, 2016.
The awards are presented each year in recognition of outstanding systems and educational programs that contribute to the real estate industry, promote public protection and might be adapted to benefit licensees and consumers in other ARELLO® member jurisdictions. Courses are evaluated on the basis of concept, methodology, quality and benefits to the targeted audience.
The Broker-in-Charge Update Course, Commercial Version 2015-2016, represents a collaborative, public-private partnership between the Commission and two commercial real estate professionals to create a commercial version of the Broker-in-Charge Update course. For the previous 15 years, Ms. Cindy Chandler, CCIM, CRE, Commission Member and Mr. Garth Dunklin, JD, CCIM, CRE, have modified the Commission’s annual Update courses to target a historically underserved segment of the active brokerage community (commercial brokers) by providing dynamic commercial brokerage curriculum content and examples. This course emphasizes practical information and education that can be immediately used in commercial real estate brokerage practice.
This course provides multiple benefits for attending brokers. Among these are direct and specific answers to difficult and complicated questions regarding new settlement disclosures, sales of vacation rentals, changes in Commission rules, contracts, and addenda (both residential and commercial), real estate agent safety, licensing and education reviews, handling complaints, handling trust monies, and broker-in-charge requirements, all from a commercial brokerage perspective.
The North Carolina Real Estate Commission would like to thank the ARELLO® Education Certification Committee for their time in reviewing and awarding the 2016 Continuing Education Award for the Broker-in-Charge Update Course, Commercial Version 2015-2016.
In a sales transaction, the listing agreement determines the liability of the seller to pay a commission to the listing FIRM. The listing FIRM may be obligated to pay individual brokers or cooperating brokers through any agreements with an MLS or otherwise. Brokers should not attempt to require closing attorneys to make these disbursements for them, putting the closing attorney in jeopardy of paying an unlicensed person or firm or improperly dividing a fee due to incomplete or inaccurate information.
Scammers posing as US Treasury officials are calling North Carolinians and demanding that you pay taxes right away or face a lawsuit or arrest. More than 500 consumers have reported these fraudulent calls to our office in the past week, with many of the reports coming from eastern North Carolina.
We’ve warned you about phony tax collector calls before. In the most recent version, the caller usually identifies himself as Steve Martin or David Gray, and many of the calls reported appear to come from the same number: 843-492-4165. The calls often begin with a pre-recorded message that you’re asked to return. Sometimes the caller says there’s an issue with your pension, and other times he says an action has been filed against you by the US Treasury.
Anyone who calls to demand immediate payment for taxes is trying to rip you off. If you get a call like this, remember:
If you have been contacted by a phone scammer, report it to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or by filing a complaint online at ncdoj.gov.
By the NCDOJ
The North Carolina State Bar recently learned of another instance in which hackers diverted funds from a real estate transaction. In this instance, criminals hacked into a real estate broker’s computer database to gather information about an impending closing, including the names of the closing lawyer and the seller. Immediately before the closing, the hackers sent an email to the lawyer instructing the lawyer to wire the seller’s proceeds to a bank account other than the one originally identified. That email came from an address that looked like the broker’s email address but a single character had been changed. The lawyer wired the seller’s proceeds, more than $272,000.00, to the criminals’ account. By the time the lawyer learned of this crime, the criminals had wired the funds to a foreign bank account.
The Real Estate Commission urges brokers to instruct the closing lawyer in each transaction not to disburse the seller’s proceeds other than as specifically authorized in a document signed by the seller.
Please be aware that scammers have used licensed real estate brokers’ names in various states to target consumers in time share scams. See this Ohio Department of Commerce Press Release for more details. Licensees are advised to periodically do web searches for their names/companies to catch improper use of their information.
The 2015-2016 edition of the North Carolina Real Estate Manual has just been published. Serving as the textbook for postlicensing education and as a reference work for individuals involved with the real estate industry, the Manual is available in printed and electronic formats.
Printed copies of the 893-page Manual, CD-ROM’s, or online subscriptions may be ordered online at the Commission website, www.ncrec.gov, or by using the order form in the Real Estate Bulletin.
Recently, the FAA sent the Commission a letter regarding guidance on the requirements for the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (AKA “Drones”). Brokers considering using such means to photograph listings or otherwise view properties should be mindful of laws and regulations regarding the use of UAS devices. The letter is available on the Commission’s website at www.ncrec.gov.