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The ad had my text and pictures stolen from HomeAway. The only reason I found it was an inquiry on the property through HomeAway asked why the ad on Craigslist was asking so much less of a nightly rate. I searched the e-mail address listed in the Craigslist ad and found the person had done the same thing to 10 or so people here in my community; advertising their properties for half of the normal cost and asking for money orders and other methods of payment. I contacted all the property owners after finding them on HomeAway.
So, today... I find it listed again on Craigslist. This time with no pictures but ALL my text. I thought maybe someone is just copying and pasting because they're lazy and don't want to write their own text. But It can't be any other place because of some of the unusual amentities and features of the place are all listed as well. There is no way anyone else could be using this description to describe their own property.
This time the contact email address is traceable to a woman with an account on MySpace with dozens of face pics of her and her family. I have her home address and phone number as well. Based on what I'm seeing in the pictures I can't believe this family could afford a million dollar townhouse here in a prime neighborhood. Oh... and I see other listing she's placed online looking for sex partners and saying she lives with her dad although I'm seeing a husband in the pictures.
I have not contacted anyone concerning the removal of her ad advertising my property. Instead I've emailed her for pictures of the townhouse since she didn't post any in the ad. I'd like to see if she will send me pictures of my own place. I've asked availability and an address so I can google street view it... it will be interesting if she has my address. If she does, I'm in trouble. I can just picture people arriving from Europe with luggage looking for the keys and me having to tell them they've been scammed. My lawyer brother says that I am not entirely immune from a lawsuit in that type of situation!
I'm waiting for the womans response. I could just send her an email using her name, address and include a picture of her family and threaten her with legal action and shut this down right now. Any advice on how to handle this?
Scammers on CL were posting my property on a regular basis. I actually followed through on one pretending I was a renter. They wanted me to send the money via western union. With the informtion I recieved from the scammer and the email addresses, I reported them to Western Union, CL and there is a website you can file a complaint on about online scammer (just do a google search, I can't remember the name).
You need to be viligant in checking CL on a regular basis and imediately report the post so it will be taken down.
how do you search Craigslist for fraudulent copies of your listings? Our condos are on Maui and there is an incredible number of listings that come on every day. I just don't have the energy to look at them all. wondering if there's a quick way. thanks!
A lot of the times they will use your title also. Say, you have "bungalow" in the title, go to the CL page for your area under vacation rentals and then do a word search from your internet browser. You can then search all Maui listings that might have your title in the name. It doesn't always work, but it's a start without having to go through each and every one.
There is a little button on the Craigslist search line to "search title" or "search entire post". I just search entire post for phases that appear in my listing.
You could search for "townhouse daytona kid friendly" or "daytona townhouse elegant view" if those words appear in your listing here on HA then it would come up on CL even if they are not using your title headline. This woman made up a headline but used my text so she's trying to blend in. My search usually brings up 4 or 5 to look at and there she was!
you need to report such fraud to the local police
Unfortunately the local police won't do anything. As owners we have to be vigilant against protecting ouselves.
Yes, that is true. The police didn't want to hear about it. These scam artists know this and are unafraid of being caught. I plan on pursuing this woman with the help of my lawyer brother if I can show she is using my pictures and has the address.
Once or twice a year I get a call from a traveler stranded, or their vacation is ruined, because of this kind of fraud.
ME: I am so sorry this happened I can give you a good rate of $800.
Traveler: Yeah, but Craigslist was only $400
- stupid is as stupid does. Some people are asking for it. The problem is it give us all bad name
I had a woman want me to draw up a floor plan for her! I just ignored her.
sigh. thanks guys!
Ok, so she just reposted the ad on craigslist. This time she is using the anonymous e-mail address that craigslist lets you put when you post. I'm thinking she didn't mean to reveal her email address in the last posting. She didn't respond to my inquiry... probably too many questions. I really need her to respond to do anything.
Remember she is just using my text with no pictures on there and she didn't respond to my inquiry. The text is just so specific to my property that she couldn't possibly have the same set up down to the very specific amenities.
So shocking! I hope you manage to bring her down...!
Couple of things I'd like to add to this discussion:
First, HomeAway just launched an excellent new Security Center, with tips and tools on how both travelers and owners can maximize the vacation rental experience. Please check it out, and share the link with others.
Also, HomeAway is considering the use of photo watermarks similar to VRBO. That said, it's important to note that even though watermarks act as a deterrent, they are still easily circumvented by determined scammers.
Stay safe, everyone!
Why would you even hesitate watermarking pictures if a number of us are being scammed like this with pictures stolen here? I use photoshop for a living and circumventing a watermark is NOT easy to the casual scammer... they would look elsewhere for targets. HomeAway at this point in time is a smorgesbord for property scam artists.
Also, this recommendation of yours to travelers to ask owners for more pictures is pretty detached from the reality of online fraud. Not to mention your advice that we narrow down the location of the rental property with an arrow pointing to the exact location with no mention of the potential for fraud.
The biggest offense is the fact that although Home Away allows home owners to be vague and not pinpoint exact location of the rental properties.....THE HOMEAWAY IPHONE APP WILL STILL DIVULGE THE HIDDEN ADDRESS INFORMATION ON A MAP AND WILL ALLOW SOMEONE TO DRIVE RIGHT UP TO THE FRONT OF YOUR RENTAL regardless of how well you think you have it hidden.
I'm personally getting VERY tired of the careless disregard for property owners safety and wellbeing displayed by Home Away. I am getting scammed often with information and pictures stolen from HomeAway! Why are you making it so easy for them?? I'm the one paying you thousands of dollars, remember??
This sounds like a nightmare. It's difficult to imagine that the police (or FBI) don't have a legal responsibility to follow-up on this kind of fraud.
The police don't have the capacity to even verify online fraud let alone act on it and normally the perpetrator is far from their juristiction. The FBI adds these small potato fraud attempts to the bottom of the pile and instead focuses on big fish. At least that is the subtext to everything either of these agencies have written or said to me.
I found my homes advertised on Craigslist with a rental rate of $1.00.
I was able to track down the ad and found it was a new upstart vacation rental site trying to get inquiries. The inquiries were directed to me. None of the peole inquiring believed the price.