Written by Dennis Allen of Ashore Realty Inc
ABC’s The Lookout featured the practice of fraudulent vacation rental advertisements. Victims were interviewed that booked rental properties on Craigslist & HomeAway.com. The scammers copy the rental ad and give either a cell number or e-mail address to contact them. The very charming scammer usually requests a deposit or even the full amount via online payment. After the payment is made the renter never hears from them again and of course the actual owner has no idea you’re planning to vacation in their home. Thousands of these scams happen everyday!
A renter walked into our real estate office last season and informed us they were victims of a rental scam in Brigantine. They noticed a property on a popular rental web site, contacted the “owner” and as per the “owner’s” instructions directly deposited $4000 into a Wells Fargo bank account as the payment to hold their vacation week. One weekend in March they decided to take a trip down to Brigantine and drive past the property. They noticed a car in the driveway so they knocked on the door to introduce themselves to the owner. The lady that answered was in fact the real owner of the property but never had any contact with them and of course never received the $4000 deposit. They attempted to contact the person that they sent the $4000 to and still as of this day has gotten no response. They came into our office almost in tears and we found them another rental for this coming summer. These victims are very successful, intelligent professionals that are not gullible. If it can happen them them, it can happen to anyone.
I was a victim of one myself…. from the landlord’s side. I advertised a property I owned on a rental web site a couple years ago as a yearly rental. I had a prospective tenant call me to view the property (I had a for rent sign in the window with my phone number). During conversation with her she mentioned that the unit allowed pets and was $700 per month. I said, “no it’s $1100 per month and no pets are allowed”. She then showed me the e-mail I supposedly sent her and the online ad stating the rent was $700. I was shocked to see my property advertised at a lower price and with an e-mail address as the contact I’d never seen. I knew right away what was happening. Thankfully for the tenant, she drove by the property and called my number on the sign in the window. I sent the scammer an e-mail stating I was interested in the rental. They promptly e-mailed me back saying they lived out of state but if I wired a refundable deposit into their account they would mail me the key so I could preview the rental. I responded with a nasty e-mail identifying myself as the actual owner. They never responded and after a few other e-mails telling the scammer they were wasting their time because I put a sign in the window alerting prospective tenants of the scam, they took the post down. I reported the scam to local police and even tried to contact government agencies but no one cared. According to ABC’s The Lookout unless you’ve been scammed for millions of dollars, you’re on your own. So the moral of this story is BUYER BEWARE! The safest way to book a vacation rental property or yearly rental is to use a respected local real estate office. Every town has them and most of the time the commission is paid by the landlord. So, beware of offers that seem too good to be true and use a Realtor to book your next vacation.
Vacation rental scams happen every day!
The safest way to prevent being a victim is to use a local real estate office
A scam artist recently attempted to book a rental property through our office after seeing our advertisment on a popular rental website. The scam went like this …. A foreigner e-mailed our office under the name Amelii Feddik saying to be from the Ukraine under the e-mail email@example.com. He wanted to book a weekend rental for him and his wife. The rental amount was $1500. They mailed us a check for $2500 and stated their boss made an error. He accidentally mailed us the rent and their traveling expenses (this trip was being paid for by his so called boss). He asked if we could deposit the check and mail him the difference. The check looked good even to the bank but when the bank researched the check, the account didn’t exsist. If this was deposited the bank would not have caught it immediately, it would have taken about two weeks for us to get the bounced check notice. By then he would have cashed our check and been gone. We knew this was a scam because it’s been attempted before unsuccessfully. This solicitation came from VRBO.com so if you’re trying to rent your property on your own, BE CAREFUL.
Two separate renters were scammed in July off of Craigslist. Both thought they were renting a unit at the Krystal Beach Condos in Brigantine. The first lady was taken for $1000 and the other renter was scammed out of $1900. Ashore Realty was able to save their vacations by finding them another rental but they lost the money they sent to the Craigslist person. If a deal seems too good to be true it probably is.
Last summer two people were scammed out of $950 and $6000 on a Craigslist ad for a rental on 43rd street in Brigantine. Ashore Realty helped both secure other rentals but they were unable to get the Craigslist money back. Another gentleman called our office to verify the owner of this same house. He was getting ready to send them a certified check to book a week, but decided to drive by the house first, noticed our sign in the yard and wanted to confirm the owners name as he was suspicious. It was not the owner. He saved himself a lot of grief by calling us first.
Vacation rental scams happen everyday. Protect yourself and book your Brigantine vacation rental through the Island’s summer rental leader for over 30 years