in this issue

By Lisa A. Tyler
National Escrow Administrator

Fraudsters continue to target us from all angles. This story, titled "HOW a buyer stole $10,000," is unique and revealed how savvy these crooks are. The transaction contained all the characteristics of a scheme we continue to see. The buyer, located in a foreign country, contacts the seller's real estate agent to make a cash offer to purchase property sight unseen. The seller accepts the offer and opens escrow. The dishonest buyer was in the process of sending a fraudulent check when this scheme took a whole new direction, enabling her to steal $10,000. Read on for all the details.

How do you know if you have counterfeit money? A three-dollar bill is easy to spot; however, counterfeit checks are not as easy. The industry continues to receive fraudulent checks from buyers trying to deceive settlement agents. The fraudsters then push the settlement agents into disbursing against uncollected funds. Most of the time they fail; but sometimes they succeed. This story features a win for the industry. Keep reading "FUNNY money" for all the details.

Our state withholding series features the great state of Alabama. Generally speaking, income from the sale of Alabama real property is required to be reported on an Alabama income tax return. The problem is nonresidents of Alabama do not typically file an Alabama state income tax return. As a result, buyers of Alabama real property are obligated to withhold 3% or 4% of the sales price from the seller, at the time they purchase the property. Read "ALABAMA real estate withholding" for more detailed information.

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