Scam alert: Man posing as client robs Orlando Realtor, others

Scam alert: Man posing as client robs Orlando Realtor, others

ORLANDO, Fla. – Nov. 9, 2017 – A Central Florida Realtor wants to warn others about a scam she fell prey to Nov. 4, when she met with a man who appeared to be in the military at her office to discuss buying a home. However, he ended up stealing cash and credit cards from her purse, racking up about $2,500 on her accounts in the span of a few hours.

Susan Ballou, a Realtor with Wemert Group Realty in Orlando, says the man called himself John Norwood. When they met, he was dressed in a military uniform, and told her he was a U.S. Air Force major. She met with Norwood after he specifically asked for a female agent.

Norwood told Ballou that his wife and her parents would be flying into town to find a home priced somewhere between $4 million to $7 million. He said the home had to be at least 7,500 square feet, with a privacy fence. He also said he was relocated from the Pentagon to Tampa, but his wife wanted to live in Orlando. Norwood apparently researches relevant properties and can talk about the properties’ photos and features.

Then his phone rang – he said it was a confidential matter and asked for privacy to take the call. At that time, Ballou left the conference room, which is when the scammer stole her credit cards and cash. She only discovered the money and credit cards missing later that same day, after she had scheduled for him to return to her office the next day with his wife and in-laws.

Scam likely elsewhere

Ballou filed a report with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, which is investigating the case. She also reported the incident to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) after she learned that he had gone to real estate firms in other states, including Georgia and Texas.

From reports of similar instances on Facebook, where Realtors have reported that a nicely dressed man calling himself Lt. Colonel John Norwood was observed rifling through a female Realtor’s purse, it now appears that the scammer may have last been seen in Austin, Texas.

Norwood is described as a white male, about 50 years old, 5-feet, 11-inches to 6-feet, 1-inch tall with a medium build, weighing 180-200 pounds. He has blue eyes, light brown or dirty blond hair in a buzz cut, a slender face, defined jawline and a rough complexion.

Ballou told the sheriff’s department that Norwood was driving a bright metallic blue Mustang when he came to her office. From the last incident in Texas, Realtors reported he was driving a late model gray Chevrolet Camaro with a Florida license plate.

“I’m speaking out because my goal is to stop him before he hurts someone,” Ballou said. “I am struggling with the thought of knowing he’s out there and can prey on others. I wonder what will happen if he gets a female agent alone. I don’t want to look back and say, ‘I could have prevented this from happening again,’ so I’m doing everything I can to help investigators find and stop him.”


© 2017 Florida Realtors®

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