May 27, 2018

Agents Warned of Vacation Rental Scams

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Agents Warned of Vacation Rental Scams

Police in eastern North Carolina are the latest to issue warnings to real estate companies and home owners, advising them to watch out for con artists who are duplicating advertisements of vacation rentals and placing them on other websites at a cheaper price. Such scams are reportedly becoming more frequent across the country, particularly among single-family rental property listings being scraped online by scammers

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"Basically what the scammers do is they take the legitimate ad and they just duplicate the page, they duplicate the pictures, descriptions, and they post it on sites like Craigslist," says Sergeant John Towler with the Kill Devil Hills Police Department in North Carolina. Towler has fielded complaints from home owners and real estate companies saying their listings were hijacked online. 

Often, the scam isn't reported until a family shows up to start their vacation at a home they thought they rented, but then discover they were scammed, Towler says.  

Towler is recommending real estate companies use Internet search engines to make sure their rentals aren't being reposted by scammers. He suggests taking one or two sentences from the listing copy and pasting them into Google to see if any similar phrases come up online.

Vacation renters also are being cautioned to be leery of any person who asks them to make untraceable payment options, like a money order or Western Union. 

“Most legitimate rentals are going to be with a credit card or a personal check,” Towler says.

Source: "Homeowners and Real Estate Companies Become Targets of Vacation Rental Scams," WNCT-9 CBS in Eastern North Carolina (Aug. 3, 2014)