Richard Stein – Realtor®, Douglas Elliman, GREEN, SFR, CBR, eCertified®

Local Agent, Worldwide Marketing – Douglas Elliman Real Estate formerly Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate

Wealthy Asians Are Getting Richer Faster Than Anyone Else

By Chanyaporn Chanjaroen

Photographer: Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images

Rich Asians got richer faster than anyone else in the world last year.

Wealth assets held by high-net-worth individuals in the Asia-Pacific region jumped almost…..

FULL STORY AT BLOOMBERG

 

74 Arrested After Wire Fraud Investigation

Federal authorities announced Monday that an investigation resulted in 74 arrests of people in the U.S. and overseas who allegedly took part in schemes to intercept wire transfers from businesses and individuals, including in real estate transactions. Federal authorities seized nearly $2.4 million and recovered about $14 million in fraudulent wire transfers. 

The arrests were made as part of a six-month investigation, dubbed Operation Wire Wire, that was coordinated by a multiagency task force, including the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of Treasury, and U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Over the last two weeks, the agencies have arrested 42 people in the U.S., 29 in Nigeria, and three in Canada, Mauritius, and Poland. 

The agencies investigated “Business Email Compromise” schemes, where hackers attempt to gain access to email accounts of employees. The scams also involved some real estate transactions. For example, a hacker pretends to be a real estate professional, gains access to the person’s email account, and requests that real estate buyers wire their funds unknowingly to fraudulent accounts. Two years ago, the National Association of REALTORS® and the Federal Trade Commission issued a warning to real estate professionals and consumers that scammers were attempting to pose as real estate professionals and title insurance companies to try to dupe them out of their down payment and closing costs.

The Threat of Wire Fraud is Real

Among the recent arrests, a 25-year-old Fort Lauderdale, Fla., man was detained because he is accused of gaining access to email accounts belonging to a Massachusetts real estate attorney and sending emails to recipients that “spoofed” the attorney’s account. In one case, the man allegedly instructed an email recipient to transfer nearly $500,000—that was intended to be used for a payment in a real estate transaction—to a fraudulent account.

“Fraudsters can rob people of their life’s savings in a matter of minutes,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “These are malicious and morally repugnant crimes. The Department of Justice has taken aggressive action against fraudsters in recent months, conducting the largest sweep of fraud against American seniors in history back in February. … We will continue to go on offense against fraudsters so that the American people can have safety and peace of mind.” 

Source: “74 Arrested in Coordinated International Enforcement Operation Targeting Hundreds of Individuals in Business Email Compromise Schemes,” The U.S. Department of Justice (June 11, 2018)

To Live in the City or Commute From ‘Burbs?

Many homebuyers face a tough decision: To live in the city or commute from the suburbs. In some city centers, the cost of living is actually not as high as the outlying metro area, while in other cities homeowners will find more purchasing power in the metro area. 

SmartAsset, a personal financing resource, broke down the costs of commutes near major hubs to find the areas where it pays off the most to commute. The survey compared metro areas across five factors: the difference in housing costs, commute times, property taxes, home value change, and the odds of a long commute. 

Researchers found that Midwest commuters tended to fare the best. Four of the top 10 metro areas are in the Midwest. Residents in the outer metro areas tend to find lower property tax rates and faster rising home values. 

But commuting isn’t always affordable in some locales. The average housing cost in many metro areas is actually more expensive than in their principal cities, according to the study. In Baltimore, for example, the cost of housing is about $330 more expensive in the metro area compared to the city. (Note: The study did not control for the size of homes. “It is possible that residents living outside of principal cities pay less per square foot for housing but also live in larger homes,” researchers note.)

Source: “Places Where it Pays Off to Commute,” SmartAsset

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