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 By Charlotte Reed

December 27, 2011 (San Diego’s East County)From the Real Estate Trenches is a weekly column focused on real estate news that impacts East County’s real estate market. This week’s local and national real estate highlights include:

  • East County Realtors rally to aid less fortunate at Christmas time
  • Two new scams reported in East County


East County Realtors rally to aid less fortunate at Christmas time

As tough as business has been for all of us in East San Diego County, we pause this time of the year to realize how fortunate we are.  The East County Board of Realtors responded to a plea from the Imperial County Association of Realtors who asked us to join them in collecting non-perishable food for distribution to their neighbors in need.

The unemployment rate in Imperial County is 28%, making it the metropolitan area with the highest unemployment rate in the nation according to the Bureau of Labor.  A big barrel was set up in the lobby of our East San Diego Association of Realtors at 1150 Broadway, El Cajon and the word went out to all Realtors in the East County.  A big load of can goods was delivered to Imperial County last week.

The local Real Estate offices all contributed to the happiness of needy families individually.  Coldwell Banker collected for the Marines Toys for Tots, Keller Williams and Prudential California Real Estate “adopted” a family, as did several other small companies and Windermere SoCal Realty spent the two nights of Christmas in the Village giving away homemade gingerbread boys while accepting donations for the family of foster children.
Two new scams have been reported in the East County:

The first was a man who called an El Cajon Real Estate Company and asked for a list of homes with a certain number of bedrooms, baths etc. for around $500,000 and said he would be paying cash. Two days later he call and said he wanted to make an offer on a home in La Mesa for $465.000 and asked the agent to email him the offer via Docusign,  and included an attachment of his bank statement from a bank in Canada.  It looked very real and the balance was impressive.  It showed a balance of about five million and also showed deposits and withdrawals, the last on to an escrow company in Orange County for $350,000.

The agent “googled” the man and the name was real, the bank was closed but when he called the Orange County Escrow he found this elaborate scheme was a scam. He had another agent involved in a real estate transaction for a property in Orange County for $350,000.  He sent the check to the escrow company for $350,000 which was deposited. Very soon after he sent the check, he requested that they return $50,000 of the money to him right because of a divorce.  The escrow company checked to see if his money had cleared, which of course it didn’t.  When the bank was called, they also discovered he was not a customer at that bank.

The second scam occurred in La Mesa. An agent at Windermere received an e-mail that informed him that there had been a complaint lodged against him relative to his business practice.  According to Huffington Post, the Council of BBB had warned businesses and consumers that the return e-mail address, “ is not an address that the BBB uses and links to a non-BBB website.  The BBB warns, “do not click on this link.

Spokeswoman, Kelsey Owen said, “we have the FBI looking into it”,  and has asked recipients of the scam to e-mail to alert the BBB at

There are also many other scams that involve real estate and mortgages that I will be reporting on here in the future.  It isn’t always the strange sounding e-mail with the stranger syntax that most of us are familiar with.  Last week the Securities and Exchange Commission charged former executives of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with securities fraud for misrepresenting their high risk holdings of high risk mortgage loans.  In a statement SEC enforcement chief Robert Khuzami said, “These material misstatements occurred during a time of acute investor interest in financial institutions’ exposure to sub-prime loans, and mislead the market about the amount of the risk on the company’s books. The suit alleges the approval of misleading statements, making false claims regarding the risk of investments and underestimating the size of their holdings of subprime loans.
Charlotte Reed is a realtor with Windemere SoCal Realty in La Mesa.  She can be reached at or (619)997-7333. Her motto is “Real estate is my business…my only business.”