When it comes to holiday nightmares, being scammed into renting an apartment or accommodation from a scammer has to top the list of nightmare scenarios.
Unfortunately the problem is growing and becoming more common so watch out this summer. “The problem is reaching epidemic proportions” said Kim Tuffin of the anti- scam expert site FidelityCheckOnline.com.
Online classifieds are a favourite place for scammers to place their fake advertisements and target their unsuspecting victims. The scammers often infiltrate the listings for legitimate holiday rental properties and make themselves the person to contact. They then try and scam money from their victim, their goal is to either get a large deposit or the full amount from their victim upfront.
Then of course they just disappear with the money. Some people lose thousands of pounds, dollars or euro’s and it is common for them to arrive at their destination only to find out they have been scammed and have no ware where to stay.
A Sacramento, California family, where the victims of a identical scam a few years ago. They had found a property in Alaska at a reasonable price. They contacted the advertised rental company who were very helpful. They even had a relative drive buy the premises to see what it was like.
Everything looked above board so they went ahead and paid $1,500 to the online scammer for the rental. When they arrived at the property the owner said the property wasn’t for rent and it had never be advertised, they have been scammed.
Rental scams can happen anywhere in the world, but properties in the most popular vacation areas, such as Florida, seem to be popular with the scammer this year. The police department in Cape Coral—near Fort Myers— has 20 active holiday vacation rental scam investigations. Some of the holiday scam victims have lost several thousand dollars.
People should be cautious as once the money is wired it is very difficult for police to locate and recover it. Always be aware of Western Union money transfers as there is no way of tracing who has collected the money. Kim Tuffin said “look out for holiday rental deals that sound too good to be true, always do your homework and try and stick to well known and established rental sites and tour operators”.