A new scam on the rise statewide is targeting potential land-buyers with promises of off the grid parcels for sale. The Humboldt County Public Works Department’s Land Use Division and the Planning and Building Department warn that a variety of websites have recently appeared online offering small, off the grid “plots of land” for sale.
These websites make promises that one can "buy lifetime access to a piece of land and skip the hassles of deed ownership." These sites also state that they will “provide you a set of accurate coordinates that define the boundaries of your space” and that “you’ll also be able to easily open these [coordinates] in Google Maps” to determine the boundaries.
These websites have not yet offered “plots of land” to Humboldt County residents, however, community members, especially those searching for real estate, are encouraged to remain alert and vigilant against these types of scams.
The county reminds the community that a legal process must be followed to create legitimate parcels of land that can be bought, sold and financed. Properties not created in a legal manner cannot be legally sold. Ownership of “parcels” purchased from these scam websites will not be legally recognized and there may be limited recourse to recover any money exchanged during these transactions.
It is important that you verify the parcel can be legally bought or sold prior to buying a property and before any money is exchanged. The best way to avoid scams when purchasing real estate is to utilize the services of licensed real estate professionals.
Sign up for the Federal Trade Commission’s scam alerts at https://consumer.ftc.gov/scams.
Visit https://www.usa.gov/where-report-scams to learn how to report scams.
Visit https://humboldtgov.org/2864/Scam-Information to learn more about some of the common scams reported to the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office.