BEAUFORT COUNTY, S.C. (WSAV) – A consumer alert for Lowcountry home buyers or those looking to buy a lot from an online seller.

It could be a scam.

It is a scheme that’s happened multiple times recently in the Lowcountry and realtors want to warn everyone before they get taken for all their cash.

“The last realtor said the person had called and said his wife was sick and his heart got there and he said, ‘I want to help this person,'” explained Jean Beck, CEO of the HH Area Association of Realtors.

Beck says it turned out that person was a scam artist trying to sell a piece of property that they didn’t own.

They were using one of a half dozen online “sale by owner” sites to make it happen.

“Scammers had come in, put it on a website where they have for sale by owners considerably under market price and were looking for a quick sale,” said Beck.

“There’s usually a story behind them,” she continued. “There’s usually something like someone in my family is sick or there’s a family emergency. There’s some reason they can no longer build and they want to move the property quickly off the market.”

In this case, the buyer noticed some red flags before the scam artist could cash in.

“One of the red flags that realtors notice is they are not engaged in a regular transaction like someone who is selling. They are not always available to talk to,” said Beck. “They are only available via email or text message, they don’t want to talk person to person. When you ask for identification, they send it it is blurry, it is not usually clear.”

She continued: “It’s trying to get the transaction to closing and then the funds get transferred and they drop out of the transaction. it goes into a fund that is not legitimate. It is sometimes somewhere in another country.”

Property owners need to beware as well.

Beck says they should check online registration for their address regularly because scammers are checking too.

“You need to create a Google alert on your property address so if it were to pop up on some of these websites you will get alerted to it,” she said.

“Beaufort County also has a property alert you can sign up for. That is something that is after the fact, it will not help you before.”

The good news, Beck says, is no one she knows of has lost all their money yet in a real estate sales scam.

But it’s a big enough deal that the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation has released information about it.

The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office is also working on finding the scammers.

But as usual, many are out of the country. If they get your money it may be gone forever, so be aware and be ready.