Fraud Prevention for Commercial Real Estate Valuation by CFE Vernon Martin

By CFE Vernon Martin

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This timely and relevant book explains common types of commercial real estate fraud, factors that contribute to fraud, and ways perpetrators attempt to influence or deceive appraisers into becoming part of their schemes. It presents real-life examples from the author’s professional experience, from legal cases, and from current headlines to demonstrate how appraisers can knowingly or unknowingly find themselves involved in fraudulent real estate transactions. The author discusses how such situations can be avoided and provides sensible, straightforward advice that will help appraisers feel confident in handling any suspicious situation they may encounter.

If you asked a master chef about where his mushrooms were picked (hopefully not the public park) or his oysters harvested (hopefully not from underneath the Santa Monica pier), would you respect him for saying, “That’s not my job, but I used all the best cooking methods learned from the finest culinary academy,” or would you instead call the nearest poison control center? Professional Liability Many of us as appraisers take pride in being incorruptible guardians of truth and objectivity, earnestly debating ethics at our various meetings and online forums.

In Behn v. Northeast Appraisal Company,13 for instance, the court found no “duty of care” to the seller of a property appraised for a lender. 14 The key issue seems to be whether the plaintiff(s) belonged to a group that the defendant could expect to be influenced by an inaccurate appraisal. An appraisal done for a lender is meant for the institution’s own use, except perhaps in Arizona and California. An appraisal done for a likely borrower could be meant to be used repeatedly to influence private lenders or investors who operate outside FIRREA; it could even be “re-addressed” by a dishonest loan officer at a federally regulated institution.

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