Female realtors, sellers warned of man making threats

WARWICK, RI (WPRI) — The Rhode Island Association of Realtors (RIAR) is warning about a man allegedly harassing and making threats toward realtors and sellers, many of whom are women.

In the warning posted on its website Tuesday, the association referred to social media posts about a man claiming to be from Massachusetts who had been harassing “realtors and at least two sellers with odd behavior.”

The association said the man pressured female homeowners to show him their homes an hour after an evening open house ended, claiming that he had gotten stuck in traffic from Boston. The man is also accused of “texting rants repeatedly after midnight and at other odd times.”

Additionally, RIAR claims the man used different names when contacting realtors and concealed names on financial statements to establish proof of funds when making cash offers.

The suspect, who has not been identified or named, is also accused of threatening to report realtors to the Department of Business Regulation (DBR) when asked to provide clean financial statements.

Stephen Antoni, a realtor and safety instructor at RIAR, told 12 News evasive behavior described by the agents should raise suspicion.

“I tell people, the best weapons you have are your own intuitions; they say the guts. You know, ‘I had a gut feeling so it wasn’t right.’ Well, trust it. Trust those feelings, trust your instincts,” Antoni said.

Antoni said it’s not about operating in fear, but instead about operating at a hyper alert level.

“You’re looking in every direction, you’re looking around every corner, which you should be anyway,” he added.

RIAR provided additional tips realtors can use to protect themselves:

  • Ask for identification when meeting a potential client or customer for the first time.
  • Let someone else from your office and/or your family know where you are.
  • Block a phone number from anyone who harms you.
  • Contact the police if your client or you feel unsafe.
  • Pair up with another realtor to cover open houses.
  • Discuss safety issues with seller clients.
  • Review your office’s safety procedures.

RIAR says you can contact its legal department at (401) 432-6945 or email [email protected] for more information.