Thanks to his alert neighbor, he discovered his property was listed on Zillow for $280,000.
EL SERENO, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The owner of a vacant lot in El Sereno said his property was almost sold right out from under him after someone posed as him and tried to sell it.
Thankfully, his neighbor stepped in at the right time.
"It's on escrow, it can close any day now," said Jeorge Dance. "What almost happened was a theft, grand theft!"
Dance's neighbor, Maribel Muñoz, saw people taking measurements of the property and immediately thought it was unusual.
"The people were here and I said, 'Well maybe Jeorge is ready to sell,' and then on Tuesday, some other crews came over and I was like, 'Huh?' and then on Wednesday, I called Jeorge and I asked, 'Did you send somebody to take measurements?' and he said, 'No,'" recalled Muñoz.
Muñoz, who is also a real estate agent, checked online listings and found the property on Randolph Avenue listed for $280,000.
"We immediately called the broker, the listing broker, and got some details and she said all of this was done over the phone, the transaction over the phone, by means of DocuSign," said Dance.
Dance called LAPD detectives and his attorney to put a stop on the sale. He said he's stunned how this would-be thief didn't have to show up in person to get this done.
LAPD has a real estate fraud unit to deal with issues like this.
"The LAPD said there are many, many cases like this, because of COVID, everyone went virtual," said Dance.
The reason this would've happened quickly is because Dance's lot is undeveloped property so there's no loan involved. It would've been an all cash sale.
Meanwhile, the L.A. County Tax Assessor's Office has set up a new system for owners to register their email addresses to get alerts if there's any change detected on their property.
"We had the old system, you will get a written notification in the mail about 30 days later," said L.A. County Assessor Jeff Prang. "But as you can imagine, if someone is attempting to commit fraud, that may be very very late. Now, under this new system, if you register your email address, you'll get a notification within 48 hours."
Dance said he's owes a lot to his neighbor.
"I'm happy my neighbor got involved so many people do not get involved and she made a phone call and that's all it took, a phone call to stop this," he said.