Tag Archives: Business and Economy

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Scammers stole their home down payment. Here’s how you can avoid a similar ripoff

 

 — Over the course of seven years, a local couple saved tens of thousands of dollars for a down payment on their first home — then, scammers took their money.

These scammers are so slick and so cunning that it’s hard for home buyers and sellers to realize something is wrong. The growing problem is so common that the Federal Trade Commission recently reissued an alert about the scam. And, with more than $50,000 at stake, a couple of first-time home buyers in Durham want to reinforce the warning.

After months of searching, Cemal and Derya Biryol finally found their dream home, and their excitement grew even more when their offer was accepted and the closing date was set.

Everything seemed perfect until an email came that asked for their $53,000 down payment. The email appeared to come from their closing attorney and included their insurance information and the exact amount due: $53,194.48. Attached wiring instructions even warned about fraud.

Cemal wired the funds and emailed his realtor to be on the lookout for them. The realtor sounded the alarm when she realized the funds went to the wrong bank.

“I almost started crying,” said Cemal. “I felt ashamed, or helpless, because it’s all (Derya’s) savings, together it’s all our savings, and I just sent it to someone else in a matter of seconds.”

“You just think, oh my gosh, so much money, and it’s just gone,” said Derya.

Hackers target buyers, sellers, agents and attorneys in different scenarios. Often, they break into a broker’s email, gather sensitive and accurate information about a transaction, and then clone the email address. As the closing date nears, they email the buyer new wiring instructions.

“I was pleading with my bank,” said Cemal. “I lost myself for a moment — I was asking these people, saying I lost my life savings, please help me. Please, this is a scam, please. The bank said it was already past the half-hour limit, so they could not stop the transaction.”

The bank did flag the funds as fraudulent and try to recall the wire, and Detective Ben Garth with the Durham Police Department’s financial crimes unit jumped on the case.

“Once it’s gone, it’s usually gone,” said Garth, but then he discovered that the Biryol’s money landed in a busy account.  “Another $120,000 fraudulent wire came into the same account,” said Garth.

Ultimately, because of all the quick action involved, and because they sent the payment on a Friday afternoon, the Biryols lucked out.

“The wire operations end at the end of the day on Friday and start again on Monday, so nobody was able to touch the funds in that account after we wired the money,” said Cemal.

Even after the Biryols froze the funds, it still took two more weeks for the bank to release the funds back to them. “Right at that moment I saw that money and I felt relief,” said Cemal.

After a delayed closing, these first-time home buyers are hoping others hear their warning about how fortunate they feel to also be first-time scam survivors.

“It’s easy money for them, but it’s just cruel,” said Derya. “We got lucky,” Cemal agreed.

Officials say the best way to protect yourself from a similar scam is to verify all details of a real estate transaction by phone before you send anything. The phone numbers you use need to be legitimate, not numbers you receive in a suspicious email.

Even better? Make the exchange in person.

WRAL news: Reporter 

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Cary & Surrounding Area: AFFORDABILITY

Home Affordability in Cary & Surrounding Area Hits 25.4% This Month

Real estate professionals are the best resource for their customers’ housing and marketplace questions. When your buyers and sellers ask, “How does affordability in Cary & Surrounding Area stack up?” the following information on home affordability will help you answer real estate marketplace questions and can provide you with a detailed report on all of the zip codes that make up the Cary & Surrounding Area marketplace. When looking at what makes homes in a certain area affordable to buyers, factors including home prices, mortgage rates and household income are key. The Affordability Index, provided by HouseCanary, measures median household income relative to the income needed to purchase a median-priced house. This week for Cary & Surrounding Area, the data show:

Property lookup: What is the risk of home values decreasing in your area in the next year? Enter a property street address followed by the zip code to find out: see the link below-

http://rismedia.com/msa-branded/?msa=39580-605&dow=2&sub=200363678&stat=1&zip=27511

Raleigh was ranked the best city in the state to start a business due to its labor market.

Entrepreneurs and business owners need look no further than the Tar Heel state to set up shop — North Carolina came out on top in a new study of the best states to start a business.

The study, conducted by Fit Small Business, cited the state’s labor market and taxes as driving an ideal environment for business owners. Fit Small Business, out of New York City, says it provides research to help small business owners make wiser decisions.

The researchers used data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Kauffman Foundation and the Small Business Administration to rank states on seven categories — access to capital, startup activity, taxes, cost-of-living, labor market, quality of life and cost of starting a business.

The study took corporate, individual income, unemployment insurance, property and sales taxes into account, ranking North Carolina 11th nationally for tax rates. At 3 percent, North Carolina’s corporate tax rate is the lowest of any state levying a corporate tax, according to the Tax Foundation, and is set to be reduced to 2.5 percent beginning in 2019 after to the North Carolina General Assembly’s latest budget.

Raleigh’s educated population and its high-quality research facilities earned it the top spot among cities statewide for starting a business. More than 40 percent of Raleigh’s population over 25 held at least a four-year degree, compared to just over one-third of Americans nationally.

The state’s startup activity also ranked highly — a category that took the rate of entrepreneurs and the survivability of business into account.

But those looking for venture capital investments and small business loans may turn their attention elsewhere. The state was ranked 34th in “access to capital.”

The cost of starting a business, based on per capita income and median commercial rent per square foot per year, fared worse for North Carolina than a majority of states as well. Data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis reveals North Carolina’s 2016 per capita income of $42,002 lags behind the national average of $49,571.

In addition to North Carolina, Utah, Texas, Indiana and Montana rounded out the top five states for starting a business.

by:, triangle business journal