Is this a scam? How does it work?

I just got a puzzling and disturbing phone call. The caller was an insurance agent, asking about a condo I supposedly own in Belgrade, MT (a suburb of Bozeman). Now, I used to live in Bozeman, but that was a year and a half ago, and I never owned any real estate there. The caller apologized, and told me that he had gotten my name and phone number from the property management company, and gave me their phone number.

My best guess (which probably isn’t very good) is that this property management company, or maybe whoever actually bought the condo from them, is doing something nefarious, and picked out a random name from the phone book to claim as the owner, to deflect attention from them. Does this sound plausible?

I’ve already called the Belgrade police department about this, just in case. But while I wait for them to call me back, does anyone have any guesses about what’s going on?

Someone with the same name as you or a similar name is the actual owner of the condo.

Have you checked your credit report? Maybe someone stole your identity and you do own a condo in Belgrade.

Have you spoken with the property management company? Checked their number to make sure they’re real?

I did check the phone number, but haven’t called them myself, in case they are in on something.

And I’m certain that it’s not just someone with the same name as me: My last name is fairly rare, and so far as I can tell, I’m the only person with my combination of first name and last name in the entire country.

Did you verify the insurance agent is real?

It could just be a desperate insurance agent cold-calling through an old list and making incorrect assumptions about whether you owned property or not. Had you answered yes, perhaps you’d have been the recipient of an unsolicited sales pitch.

Me too. In fact, I am the only person with my exact name that has ever existed. There was one guy who died a few years back with a different middle name and the same first name but an alternate spelling. If they had my name, I’d be a bit concerned too. I still think that it’s a legitimate mix-up and not a scam though.

No, he was asking about a specific property. I can see an insurance agent banking on the assumption that I own some property or another, but not a specific one.

And I heard back from the police. The officer agreed that it sounded odd to him, too, but his first guess was phishing, and asked me if I had given the caller any sensitive information (I hadn’t). I also gave the police the phone number of the guy who called me. In any event, it’s documented now.

Maybe you call the number and they tell you that you do indeed have some property there from a deceased relative you never knew. All they need from you is $200 to process the “paper work”.

Just speculating…

If you have the number of the property mgmt which supposedly gave your name and number to the agent, and the call is already logged with the police (which came first might become of interest, esp if it is a scam), I’d go ahead and call the mgmt and find out why they are listing you as the owner. If it sounds like something that needs fixing, find out the exact property you “own” and then find out (public record vs what the mgmt says) who sold/gave it to “you” and when.
Maybe a relative or (who knows) died and the will was read as “give the damned condo to Chronos”.
I’d find out - if your name is on the deed, property tax is accruing - and the notices are going to the condo, not you.