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Scam: Florida Realtors Doesn’t Request Ill Children Donations

No Realtor association asks members to donate money to help Grayson or any other child – but a new scam supposedly from Florida Realtors seems to do so. If you receive any email like this, even if it seems to be from a local association, report it.

ORLANDO, Fla. – No Realtor association asks members to donate money to help Grayson or any other child – but a new scam supposedly from Florida Realtors seems to do so.

“It’s a scam,” says Margy Grant, CEO of Florida Realtors. “These scammers know that people won’t turn their backs on suffering children, and they hope Realtors will open their hearts and pocketbooks to help members of the Realtor family. Most of us can’t imagine sinking to this level – but criminals will.”

The scam isn’t new, but it’s been off Realtors’ radar for almost a year now. In the past, initial emails seemed to be from Florida Realtors, but a later round of emails appeared to be sent by at least one local Realtor association.

“The latest version refers to a little boy named Grayson and claims he has a ‘life-threatening tumor’ called cholesteatoma,” says Grant. “Grayson isn’t real, and cholesteatoma isn’t even a life-threatening tumor.”

Realtors should also be wary of any email asking help for a specific child. While each version of the ongoing email scam has similarities, the photos, children’s names, diseases and apparent senders change over time.

Florida Realtors has charitable programs to help those in need, such as Florida Realtors Disaster Relief Fund and Silent Angels – but it does not email members directly asking for donations, especially for a single member in need – nor do Florida’s local associations.

Signs to look for in a Realtor email scam

  • Sender’s email address: Check the “from” email address, notably the part behind “@.” If it isn’t the same as the association that apparently sent it -- @floridarealtors.org for Florida Realtors – someone else sent it. (Note: Even if the email address appears legit, call the sender by phone to confirm, since even this can be faked.) In the “Help Grayson” scam, it’s an unknown website.
  • Where does the “donation” go?: In the latest scam, the sender asks for money to a GoFundMe website page, but the actual link goes to PayPal.
  • Trust your gut: If Grayson needs $7,500 for surgery, why would an email be sent to over 180,000 Florida Realtors members?

Florida Realtors is working to stop the funding mechanism for this scam. Members who receive the email should report it to Florida Realtors and also report it to the FBI, which tracks online scams.

PayPal also has phone access for account concerns: 1-888-221-1161.

© 2019 Florida Realtors®