If you don’t already know, there are many Real Estate Scams in Panama
I myself have never been victim to one as I never tried to purchase or sell a house in Panama, but I know they exist as I hear about them occasionally.
This is a post from someone in an expat group & while I can’t understand some of what he says (I didn’t have the time to read it all in detail), I thought I’d post it here in case it will help you avoid getting ripped off in Panama.
I just don’t have time to edit this, so I hope it reads better for you than it did for me.
“DON’T LET IT HAPPEN TO YOU
Plausible Foreign Real Estate Scams
If you are buying or selling property you are being watched and measured. The plans are vast and in place for you to lose big. Here are a few possible plans that are out there waiting for you to fall for. From the moment you decide to buy or sell a property you need to have multiple opinions of the professionals available to make the best decision.
1. Back taxes on the property haven’t been paid?
Finding the right advisor is and always has been the first order of business. If you don’t have a tax specialist then your real estate agent will be happy to provide this service.
The First Scam:
1. The real estate tax specialist will present you official papers from the local government tax office. These papers will be used to confuse you that the previous owner may not have paid all the property taxes. An explanation will be presented to show that you may have to pay thousands to bring the property up to sellable tax status.
2. You know that the transfer of the property to your name, when you bought the property, needed a tax clearance, in Panama known as a “Paz Y Salvo”, but the real estate scam team is ready to convince you this never happened.
3. Next you will be presented with the price for having this false tax problem expedited through the ministry of taxes.
4. An honest real estate tax specialist would have opened your deed to the last page and confirmed that the Paz y Salvo is in place and ready.
The real estate agent will not be in the room during this presentation for plausible deniability. The next time you see the real estate agent, and you are compelled to communicate that you were presented with back tax problems from the previous owner, expect a response similar to “I thought that might be a problem for you”, some would consider this to be proof of a conspiracy.
On a personal note, this could be extra insulting if your property is an inheritance property, now the real estate agent has stooped to say that your late relative is a tax fraud.
You may take action against the real estate agent at this moment or you can be patient and start your information gathering against the real estate agent for future action.
2. Not hiring the tax specialist?
No brainer, you don’t hire the real estate agents recommended tax specialist. Of course while you are explaining this to the real estate agent the full plausible deniability kicks in and the real estate agent will act fully astonished that the recommended tax specialist has insulted your family and presented you with an, obvious, back tax scam to steal from you and your family.
Following Up The First Scam:
1. Plausible deniability is everything and expect the real estate agent to start the lies with something like, The big bosses have sent a directive to find another tax specialist because of other client problems with that tax specialist, don’t buy into that one.
2. A very short period of time will go by when the real estate agent will let you know just how concerned the big boss is that you have changed tax specialist because the bank will not like turmoil and stop the loan causing the sale not to happen at all.
3. A number of factors will raise your brow. You never hired the tax specialist to begin with and you know there is no reporting to the mortgage company who the tax specialist is.
These scam team real estate agents will go to all lengths and embarrassments to steal your money. Most cultures do not believe in out stupiding their opponents but this must work for them from time to time. By telling you the big boss, who supposedly directed to change the tax specialist, is now concerned that you are not hiring the tax specialist is beyond the scope of being an obvious scam artist. Never-the-less these tactics are in place and common.
3. Let the badgering begin….
If you turned down the advances of the first scams the real estate agent will be beaming to hook you for the next step of scamming. Now you are to be incensed by the real estate agent ability to insult your intelligence to a infantile level. If the real estate agent can pit you against the buyer and pit the buyer against the select, the odds of seller and buyer making direct contact is less likely.
Creating The Big Scam:
Badgering will come in many forms:
1. You may be told that the buyer wants to move in within weeks and you need to start preparing for this.
2. You may be told that you didn’t respond to some email or text, of no significance, and that the time sensitivity of this note is imperative and you have screwed everything up.
3. During the same time period the real estate agent will be badgering the buyer to tears. During the first days of the sale the real estate agent will present both parties with a sample sales agreement with amounts and dates. The seller will be told that this is only a sample of the closing date yet the buyer will be told that this is the expected closing date of the seller. Pressure, pressure and more pressure is the tactic to keep both parties separated.
4. Where did you say the NOTARY office is???????
Now comes the real special point. The promise to purchase agreement takes place at the local notary. In many countries a notary is a government office and there is only one notary per district.
1. The real estate agent will be on top of the buyer to receive cash for the deposit.
2. The real estate agent will tell the buyer that he/she is acting as the personal agent of the seller and the cash will be handled correctly. The trick is to get the cash without the seller knowing because a seller would never agree to this.
3. The real estate agent will now call the seller to set a time to meet at the notary. One problem, the real estate agent will claim not to know where the notary is. Simple, if the real estate agent doesn’t know where the notary, mistakes can be made in finding the notary. It will dawn on you that this situation is a virtual impossibility. All real estate transactions take place at the notary so how can an experienced real estate agent not know where the notary is.
Keep in mind that the real estate agent does this at the last minute to lessen the chance of any communication between the seller and the buyer and raises the chance of getting the full deposit in cash on the road.
As a seller you will be lucky if the buyer contacts you personally to let you know that the real estate agent is badgering them and they want no more contact with the real estate agent. As the seller and your gut tells you to stop now you are smart. The moment you know the deal is in jeopardy of a scam, contact the buyer or seller immediately.
If you have not cut off your relationship with the real estate agent this is one form of what you may experience next.
a. Now the real estate agent has the foundation laid. Being you gave the real estate agent directions to the notary just hours before, the real estate agent will claim the directions were unclear.
b. The real estate agent will following the claim of you giving bad directions and make a wrong turn into a bad street, there the real estate agent will be robbed, by a accomplice member, of the cash deposit.
c. It doesn’t matter if the buyer is a woman with small children in the real estate agent’s car, the real estate agent is focused and ready.
d. If the real estate agents plan is successful, and the deposit is robbed, by a member their own team member, more than likely you will be in court for years and not be able to sell your property until the complete investigation and proceedings are completed.
5. The local authorities
Now that you have had enough you will be inclined to do what you should have done from the beginning, go to the local authorities. If you have done your counter badgering well, you may have received some official identification from the real estate agent, a passport works best. Take a copy of this ID to the local federal real estate board to find out what you have just experienced. Many scenarios are possible including you will find out that the real estate agent has no authority to deal in real estate in the host country what so ever. If this is the case you will find that the real estate has jeopardized not just the sale of your property but the possibility of your personal freedom. Most countries do not take it lightly of foreigner breaking their laws. It could be construed that just handing scam artist money for a sale is grounds for incarnation even though you are the victim.
When you go to the local authorities be sure to, once again, have your lawyer present. Be sure to stay the course and get a copy of this information signed by the director of real estate for your records. An official document with the real estate agent’s ID number is the goal. This document is imperative for your next move with the real estate agent’s home country department of State and Department of Commerce. Anything is possible and you may even find that deposit theft is a common thing and that indictments are in place for this very scam!
6. Be a patriot
Do Your Part:
Of course if you did lose your money and or the deposit, you would be at the embassy right away. The Foreign Ministries of most countries are very interested in finding scam artist overseas ruining their countries name. Be sure to have your lawyer with you for every step of your real estate transaction always but actual legal documentation of a deal gone bad will be on your side for the aftermath that you will be compelled to orchestrate. Have all of your documentation and council with you at the Embassy for your emergency presentation.
Sellers, in most cases, the buyer is willing and ready to sign a letter of the real estate agents actions with full notarization. The buyer can use your name or whatever to get the real estate agent off their back. Be happy to offer this to the buyer from the beginning because the real estate agents first order of business will be to badger the buyer.
Patience is your best ally if you are ready to set the record straight with the helping your fellow man not to experience what you have just experienced. It may take months of work with the real estate agents State & Commerce Department or Foreign Ministry. From once everything is in order, and the investigation has begun, have your lawyer ready to present legal documentation to the real estate agent.
Do your duty as a patriot for whatever country you are from and stop the crooks from your own soil or even that of other countries. With the right materials the foreign ministry or state & commerce department will arrest these examples of disgrace, at the immigration desk, on their next visit to their country of origin or even in the host country. If there is enough evidence the spouse may be locked up too, plausible deniability should not be sufficient grounds for a spouse real estate scam team member to escape the justice that their victims deserve.
Keep all materials and emails especially. Your real estate agent may copy emails to others, the authorities take special interest in conspiracies and will appreciate your leg work in exposing an international who is working hard to victimize unsuspecting citizens and foreign investors.
7. The real estate agent is also a professional victim…..
EVERYTHING, AND I MEAN EVERYTHING, THEY SAY IS A LIE:
In most cases plausible deniability is the first order of a scam artist. One thing is for sure about scam real estate agents is they will never break down and fess up. Lying is the lifeblood of their livelihood. Their entire communication will be to intimidate you that you are scamming them and that you should be ashamed of yourself, of course nothing is further from the truth.
The real estate agent will make idle unfounded threats, for example, that you will be turned into the IRS for not declaring the sale. Of course the real estate agent has no idea that you have already contacted your country of origin and everything is above board with the tax system and all agencies involved. Being caught is not fun for anyone but for those who depend on tricking to profit, being caught is a threat to everything they hold dear. Have your best team ready for any retaliations that may occur, the local Marines are a usually a good source for this. This is in no way shape or form suggesting violence………
8. Where to find real estate scam artist overseas
These undesirables may live as a neighbor in your own community. Many countries do not have a multi listing so you may have 30 realtors working to sell your house separately. The place to start is with the real estate agent closest to you. In Panama, The Technical Board of Real Estate is within the Department of Commerce and Industry and can be contacted at:
Ministerio De Comercio Y Industrias
Junta Tecnica de Bienes Raices
Avenida Ricardo J. Alfaro, Plaza Edison, Pizo 2
Tel: 560-0600 Ext.:2430
[email protected] mailto:[email protected]
An illegal real estate agent is working to jeopardize your property
These examples of real estate fraud are not meant to implicate any individual, individuals or corporations.
You may request a personal dialog of these possible situations by contacting me at [email protected] mailto:[email protected] “