May 10, 2011 3:15 PM
I wanted to warn homeowners of a new rental scam dealing with the use of credit cards. When I was researching scams I couldn't find any that used credit cards, so this is a slight deviation of the money order/cashier's check one. International inquiry where the "travel agent" wants a finder's fee but can't process credit cards. They want me to process the credit card and after the money is in my account, wire transfer the small percentage to the travel agent. Of course this seems legit but then they will do a "chargeback" on the credit card and the homeowner will be out the amount they wire transferred to the "travel agent". There was no offer of "extra" payment.
The e-mail was very convincing and it wasn't until a few days of correspondence that I found out the "travel agent" needed me to process the card and then transfer the funds. The e-mail even had travel agent registration numbers and links to agencies. When I tried to verify this agent thru them I could not validate them as legit.
Also, if you process credit cards thru PayPal be warned. If renter disputes, PayPal will return their money and you will be out. See below:
VRBO customers are having problems because Paypal specifically says their chargeback program will not cover rental properties (only tangible items). If the renter disputes the charges then paypal will send the money back to the renter every time. Please see paypal’s own policy- https://cms.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/?cmd=_render-content&content_ID=security/seller_protection_learn_more
Here's the inquiry info:
Dear Joe & Kelli,
We would like to make reservation at your lovely rental vacation
home/property on August 10-24, 2011 (14 consecutive nights) for our
Japanese special and potential clients. Our clients are two couples (4
person), about 50-60 years old and there are no children and pets.
Yes, we are running an authorized and the most trustworthy travel &
guide agent at Denpasar, Bali Island, ID. Before I do the reservation
arrangements. Please answer our questions below;
- Do you have space availability for that dates? If not, please notify
that our clients vacation dates availability are flexible.
- For most Internet simply reservation may our clients provide you their
credit cards for the method of payment?
- Do I get a commission as referral fees for this guests information
from you? If yes, we propose you a little higher 12% commission on the
total amount of their stay.
- Reason of visit is pleasure, tourism and do social activities.
- Can maid, cleaning and catering service be booked with you as
- If you could serve limousine airport-pick up service. Please let me
know the additional cost but it is fine when you could not serve
limousine airport-pick up service. Do you have a good advice for renting
- May I ask for references from your past renters I will forward to my
clients? This is just an optional request.
And our company always suggest our clients to pay 100% deposit in
advance (full payment) to any properties we are looking for, not just
30-50% payment in advance. So there's no need to balance the remainder
upon their arrival. We also explained them this would be non-refundable
funds when they'll make any cancellation for doing 100% payment in
I also have read an American traveling article and they gave me a good
advice like state below so I'm always informing this good advice to all
of our clients.
"Travel Tip: Be smart when you pay. Pay with credit cards when possible.
Cash, checks, PayPal and bank wire transfers are much more difficult to
recover. NEVER wire monies via Western Union, MoneyGram or instant wire
By the way, I always have bad phone connection when I tried to reach you
so I assumed electronic mail is best, fastest and cheap way to make all
communication around the world. In addition, we would like to show you a
travel itinerary provided by the airline, that our guest is confirmed to
travel on the dates requested.
So please recalculate the total payment with your best price include
tax, damage/security deposit & cleaning service also our 12% commission
will be. I hope you understand our integrity mission and appreciate our
intentions to do honorable and ethical business. Peace be with you and
your preciousness underlings.