Be aware of fake vacation rental ads

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Summer is nearing an end, and some are looking to book a last-minute vacation, but you should be aware of fake vacation rental ads.  

Scammers are urging travelers to book their rental accommodations, make a full payment, only for the traveler to discover the entire reservation is fake. 

Jenn Love, with the Better Business Bureau of Acadiana, says, “Scammers are taking listings off legitimate website. They’re recreating them and posting them on a different website, sometimes they’re not even doing that.. they’re just finding property and listing it and it’s a completely fake property or property that’s not for rent. They’re promising all these great amenities, but they demand payment upfront in full.”

Scammers will recreate real rental listings by taking off the real owner’s contact information, replacing it with their own, and placing the new listing on a different site.

“It’s a fake reservation. They’ll book it, they’ll pay for it, they’ll arrive and then they’ll say I’m sorry, you don’t have a reservation here,” Love explains. 

At least one example happened in California when high school graduates planned a vacation..only to learn they’d lost thousands of dollars.  

“A group of high school seniors were planning their senior trip… so they paid thousands of dollars up front to go to Cancun. They arrived at the airport. They didn’t have plane tickets. They didn’t have hotel reservations or anything. It’s called Senior Grad Trips. They have an “F” rating with the Better Business Bureau.” 

To get consumers to book even faster, scammers will lower the cost and promise great amenities, but demand payment up front.  

Love adds, “They lose thousands of dollars for a vacation they’ve planned for and they’ve saved for and for nothing.” 

When making travel and vacation arrangements, here are some ways you can protect yourself from scammers: 

  • Get the contract. Get a copy of the contract before you send any money and check that the address really exists. If the property is located in a resort, call the front desk to confirm. 

  • Look out for super cheap rates. Below-market rent can be a sign of a scam. 

  • Double check your reservation.  

You usually won’t get your money back if you fall victim to this scam unless you paid with a credit card… you might have some protection there. 

If you have a scam you’d like me to report, email me at smasters@klfy.com.  

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