Police in Little Egg Harbor are warning of a real estate fraud scam that could be a problem for landowners anywhere in South Jersey. Scammers are trying to sell vacant lots that they don't own without the real owner's knowledge.

Police say privately owned vacant lots are being listed for sale with local real estate companies by con artists without the owner’s knowledge. The scammers will contact local real estate companies, impersonate the true owner and list the property for sale.

If you own a vacant lot, you are especially susceptible to this scam.

As hard as it seems to believe, your vacant lot can be put up for sale and even sold by someone who doesn't own the land.

Because Little Egg Harbor Township is an area with a large number of vacant lots, it is at a higher risk of this fraud occurring.

How can something like this happen?

“A lot of fraud. It’s a lot of fraud,” Dennis Egan, the president of Sun National Title, told a reporter in Florida. “It is more prevalent today than it has ever been.”

BankRate.com says title fraud is a growing concern.

In a worst-case scenario, criminals can use a fraudulent home title to turn around and sell the property to unsuspecting buyers without the real owner's knowledge or consent. This creates multiple victims: the true owner of a property, the buyer and possibly even the bank or lender.

Here is what Little Egg Harbor Police are recommending you do to protect your investment. Check your properties to ensure they are not listed for sale without your knowledge.

It is recommended that residents or property owners both physically check their properties for “For Sale” signs and online real estate platforms such as Zillow, Realtor.com, etc.

Keeping on top of property records, bills, and incoming mail can help homeowners reduce their risk of being targeted for this crime. In addition, reviewing your personal credit history routinely can help protect you from identity theft overall.

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