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Man arrested, accused of selling fraudulent land in Cape Coral

Posted at 5:45 PM, Jul 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-15 23:04:09-04

CAPE CORAL, Fla.  — Right now parts of Southwest Florida are seeing a housing and construction boom.

Local realtor Kayinah Destine, says with the boom, will also come a rise in fraudsters trying to cash in.

"And it's gonna happen more in the Lehigh [Acres] and Cape Coral area just because there's so much development happening," she said.

And Cape Coral police say they've already caught one of those folks red-handed.

According to their reports, 56-year-old Edwin Swanson was involved in the scheme between January 2020 and December 2020. He's accused of using personal information from landowners to impersonate them and sell their vacant lots. Police say the scheme costs victims over $100,000. U.S. Marshals located the man in Houston--arresting him on an outstanding warrant.

"Any time it's high demand people are desperate so unfortunately, they don't do their due diligence," said Destine.

Swanson is now facing several felony charges in this case.

So how do you protect yourself from falling victim to this kind of thing?

"The most important thing is to get somebody that can represent you. So you do hire a real estate agent," said Destine.

Destine says an agent can help you with paperwork, vetting potential sellers, and even making sure the property you want is worth the investment. Especially if you don't live in the area.

"Pictures can be deceiving online too. So if you live in a different state and you decide to purchase locally maybe that agent can go out there and do a live video so that you're not, I guess the terminology is 'catfished,'" she said.