Brandon Tucker Opinion: Hurricanes Target Land and Property While Fraudsters Target Homeowners
Insured property damage is projected to reach $9 billion in the wake of Hurricane Idalia. An eye-popping price tag to be sure, but far less than the $112 billion following Hurricane Ian’s Category 5 storm that hit the Gulf Coast a year ago.
Cleaning up your property and rebuilding your home after a destructive storm is pricey. But it can cost even more if you become a victim of fraud. And unfortunately, Florida and fraud go together like thunder and lightning.
The reason could be that almost 100 years ago, the Ponzi scheme was born right here in the Sunshine State. In 1925, Charles Ponzi famously conned people into buying swampland, claiming they could easily develop on the coveted, albeit marshy, prime real estate. Unfortunately, almost a century later, Florida remains a hot spot for property and real estate fraud. Florida has been a mecca of moving scams and mortgage fraud, land, and insurance shams, and specifically after hurricanes, roofing, and contractor cons.
Like a fast-moving storm, wire fraud scams can inflict damage quickly and are especially popular with con artists given the fast, fat payouts they are netting. This particular scheme involves tactics such as phishing, hacking, and spoofing. Ne’er-’do-wells hack into your computer and preten
d to be your real estate agent. The hacker may email or even call you to make a deposit into a bank account for closing costs or in some cases for escrow funds.