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Scam circulating in Erie County alleging underpayment of transfer tax

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Posted at 4:16 PM, Aug 26, 2020

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Erie County Clerk's Office is warning the public of a scam that is currently circulating in the area.

Scammers are sending letters to Erie County residents stating the letter is from an employee of the “Erie County Department of Equalization,” and demands further payment before the end of the month of transfer tax owed upon real estate closing.

Officials say this is a scam for the following reasons:

  • The Erie County Department of Equalization does not exist.
  • The letter’s signatory is not a County employee.
  • The payment link provided in the letter has been disabled.
  • The County would not send a letter in this instance, as any disputes regarding underpayment of transfer tax would be handled by the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance.

“Sadly, scammers see an opportunity during times of distress,” said Erie County Clerk, Michael P. Kearns. “If someone or some entity you’ve never dealt with before is trying to get you to part with your hard-earned money, stop and question it.”

Officials say if you receive this letter you can contact your attorney to confirm that there are no issues with their respect to their conveyance. Residents can also contact the legal department of the Erie County Clerk’s Office for more information at (716) 858-6348.