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19052 Views 75 Replies Latest reply: Dec 31, 2012 1:57 PM by trish RSS
sophie Senior Contributor 969 posts since
Mar 4, 2011
Currently Being Moderated

Mar 18, 2012 7:29 PM

BEWARE OF bidvacationrental.com  IT'S A SCAM!!!!!! Look for your property!

I just found out that there is a website called bidvacationrental.com and I found my properties listed with older information and THEIR phone # and inquiry system. I put in an inquiry for my property (haven't heard back) and I called them. (no answer).  There are numerous properties that are listed in my city that this company has lifted from vrbo/ha also.

 

All owners need to check and make sure their properties are not listed.

  • iopbeachhouse Community All-Star 455 posts since
    Aug 10, 2011

    This site has a ton of listings. Some I have seen on VRBO/HA in my area. Luckily, I looked through all 28 pages and didn't find my house.

  • carol Senior Contributor 2,146 posts since
    Dec 10, 2010

    I'm not able to find the site -- Server not found message.  Can you repost with an active link or check your spelling?

     

    Or have they taken it down?

  • carol Senior Contributor 2,146 posts since
    Dec 10, 2010

    I don't think the whole site is bogus, it looks legit.   I suspect the scammers just lifted your text and pix from your VRBO listing and created their own fake ads with them. 

     

    One interesting thing -- notice how that web site embosses the name of the website on the pictures?  That makes it impossible for someone to lift the pictures and repost them somewhere else.  If VRBO and Homeaway did the same, no one would be able to copy our web sites. 

     

    If anyone from customer relations is listening, can you forward this to your web design people as a suggestion?

      • anja Senior Contributor 1,555 posts since
        Aug 9, 2011

        By checking the WHOIS on GoDaddy, I looked up who owns the domain name, BidVacationRental.com . The name and addresss of the owner is on Whilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles.    The domain name details are as follows:

         

        Registered through: GoDaddy.com, LLC (http://www.godaddy.com) Domain Name: BIDVACATIONRENTAL.COM Created on: 14-Sep-10 Expires on: 14-Sep-20 Last Updated on: 06-Oct-11

         

        The owner person's name and contact number is also listed there,  as well.    Here's the thing:  whether the guy who owns the domain name is the same guy that created the bogus website,  plagerized the VRBO website and stole our photos remains to be seen {by the way OUR photos are watermarked with BidVacationRental.com logo}.  In my opinion, it's not enough that HA lawyers issue a stiff warning to cease and desist using the text and images they robbed from VRBO website. I think Internet fraud authorities, {FBI?} need to track this outfit down.

    • anja Senior Contributor 1,555 posts since
      Aug 9, 2011

      No ---- this is not a legitimate website.  It's a criminal operation!

  • anja Senior Contributor 1,555 posts since
    Aug 9, 2011

    I just found my property there too.  It seems as if they've taken text and photos from VRBO.  This is definitely NOT a legitimate website.  This is criminal...it's plagerism of texts and copyright infringment of the photos...and they are pretending to represent owners ..falsly...this website is criminal on all fronts.  I called the toll free number and it's a recorded response...saying that all staff are busy...leave a message.     This website has to be reported.  Imagine, marketing our properties falsy...imagine innocent travelers robbed because our VRBO advertisements have been phished.  We have  to stop them.

  • carol Senior Contributor 2,146 posts since
    Dec 10, 2010

    You all may be right that the entire site is a fraud -- some of the text they have on their "blog" has all the grammatical errors we've learned are suspicious.  All blog entries are dated March 2011, none since.  Also, none of the handful of homes I clicked on had any reservations on their calendars.  Every listing has the same 877 phone number, so there are no individual owner phone numbers.

     

    I spotted a house one town over from mine -- I'm checking with the owner via her Homeaway listing to see whether she knew her house was on this site. 

  • mauioceanview Contributor 250 posts since
    Jul 22, 2011

    another owner who sent them an email got a response:

    Just got a call back from this company saying they had removed my condos listing - of course I gave them a phone number that is not on the listing and didn't tell them the listing ...

    They also claimed they have an agreement with HOMEAWAY (VRBO etc) to show these listings and that their role model is to contact the true owner/manager when an inquiry for a unit comes in.  They would then get a fee to pass on the inquiry...

    They further claim they have a disclaimer through out the site that NOT ALL CONDOS LISTED may be AVAILABLE.

    EFfectively they are claiming to be the largest database of rentals - fast growing, etc but they get the rentals by pulling listings from other sites

    This is very bad - perhaps even more so if their claim that homeaway is giving them permission to use their content.

  • marym Active Contributor 463 posts since
    Feb 10, 2011

    My home isn't on, thankfully, but I see a friend's whose home is on the site.  I plan on sending him an e-mail to see if he has or has not placed his ad -will report back to the group!!

  • stjvilla Active Contributor 624 posts since
    May 27, 2011

    Hope that HA will address this disturbing issue directly.

  • marym Active Contributor 463 posts since
    Feb 10, 2011

    Just heard from my friend - it's bogus - for him, they've lifted last year's ad.  He's sending an inquiry to see what's going to happen and if/how he hears from anyone....!  Will report back if I hear anything.  HA/VRBO - if you're out there, this is quite serious - what are you doing about it??

      • mauioceanview Contributor 250 posts since
        Jul 22, 2011

        Sure use mine 315470 on his site

        Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

      • carol Senior Contributor 2,146 posts since
        Dec 10, 2010

        Apparently he's never heard of copyright laws.  Homeaway has its site copyrighted with "all rights reserved".   Again, we need Homeaway to take action here -- their lawyers can file a copyright infringement claim.

      • New Member 3 posts since
        Mar 19, 2012

        I also spoke with "Jo" and received the exact same information. He also told me my listing would be removed.  I do understand how my listing is public information, but do not understand how the information can be used without my permission.  Do we as owners have any recourse?  My "listing" was #48859.

  • iopbeachhouse Community All-Star 455 posts since
    Aug 10, 2011

    OK - so this gets even more upsetting. Do a search of your property address. We do not use our property address in any of our advertisements, anywhere. However, I searched our address to see if it shows up anywhere. I found it advertised on three additional sites: tenant.com, olx.com and gogobot.com. Could only find a phone number to call the web designer for tenant.com. I spoke with Lisa who told me that HomeAway feed information to them. She will take the page down, but if it is a direct feed from HomeAway it will show up again. The pictures are very old (from a previous owner). I do not understand this at all. olx.com I sent an e-mail. gogobot.com I could not find any contact information at all. What is HomeAway doing? All three listings had very old pictures and old information. Who gets these inquiries? This is very upsetting!

  • Just talked to "Joe." Said he was in Florida. Denied being owner, but explained business model. Said

    if they got an inquiry on our place, they would contact us and offer to reserve. Said $$ would have to go through them. I expressed my reservations about having my home listed without my permission. I asked if he would remove it if I wanted. He said yes. In the course of removing my listing, all listings on the site disappeared (though the home page remained accessible).

  • marym Active Contributor 463 posts since
    Feb 10, 2011

    Wow - this is absolutely remarkable!  I too just went to the site and there were 4 pages of rentals for our vacation rental - now there's NOTHING!! Apparently the heat is on!! Amazing!  KUDOS TO SOPHIE for being so observant and alerting us all!!

  • marym Active Contributor 463 posts since
    Feb 10, 2011

    As an afterthought, I'm disappointed with HA/VRBO's response to this ....or lack thereof.  Has anyone heard any formal response to this obvious scam? 

  • Any chance we're getting carried away here? Granted, copying the information from our listings without permission is wrong. But there's no evidence that they have taken any money from anyone. Taken at their word, they intend only to try to drive business to us, and earn a portion of the rental. Also taken at their word, they have so far not been very successful at it. I doubt the police or FBI will be interested in a copyright case. So is it a "scam," or just a lame attempt to pick up some crumbs in the burgeoning vacation rental business? It doesn't appear that anyone has shown up at the door of a vacation rental only to find they have a bogus reservation. This isn't a hack. Nobody's yanking anybody's listings.In fact, their duplication of your listing may actually help you in the search engines.

    • carol Senior Contributor 2,146 posts since
      Dec 10, 2010

      Copyright violations are not a criminal offense, they are subject only to civil litigation I believe, so of course the FBI is not going to be interested.   FBI would get involved in some kind of fraud, but you are correct, this is really not a case of fraud or a scam.  And as I think about it, I wonder if we ourselves would have to pursue the copyright infringement lawsuit -- Homeaway doesn't own the copyright to our material, just the original stuff it puts out.   The only open question I have is where they get the addresses -- if these are not available anywhere online, then it does sound like like maybe the Homeaway database has been compromised or someone from Homeaway is feeding this data to bidvacationrental.com. 

       

      You all probably have gotten many phone calls asking you to list your property with this site or that site -- I get about one call every 10 days or so.  Some of them say  they can build the site for us from the info on our other sites -- I suspect that's what this is, and they are just ahead of themselves in building the sites BEFORE they have our permission.

       

      So I think CMBaller is right, we should all take a deep breath and relax.  If your site has been posted by them, go ahead and demand it be removed or you'll sue. But all a judge can do is order them to take down your property listing -- there really are no monetary damages here unless you can prove you lost revenues somehow or they gained revenues because of your listing. 

       

      [Funny idea -- not serious so please don't take it seriously] The one way to pursue monetary damages in a copyright infringement case like this is to have a clear statement on your copyrighted material such as "Permission to copy this material is granted provided user agrees to pay the holder of the copyright $1000 for the initial use and $100 per subsequent view".   Then you could actually sue to enforce this contract.

    • iopbeachhouse Community All-Star 455 posts since
      Aug 10, 2011

      Here's one problem I have with this... I don't use the address on any of my sites. If a previous guest googles the address because they can't remember where they found us before, these sites come up. One directed them to a phone number that is a local property manager who listed the house years ago. The other site, sent them to the main search page on HomeAway, but not MY site. The pictures were all very old 3-4 years ago when someone else owned the house. So my house is being used to attract potential renters to other managers and not to me, the owner! That doesn't set well with me.

      • msdebj Senior Contributor 1,353 posts since
        May 25, 2011

        iop,

        Lots of issues involved.

        You make a very good point.

        That is a problem.  Maybe you can contact the management company ( then follow up with a certified letter and a CC to the state's Real Estate Board or Commission)  demanding, as the new owner, that the PM informs any inquiry for your property that they  are no longer managing your property. Getting your address off line is really going to be tough in today's world.

         

        Of course, any hungry, unscrupled PM will still work the lead.  At least you'd have something on record. Proving someone stole business from you is another issue.

         

        This is going to get complicated, since we're talking about both  internet and real estate laws- the first being international at the worst, the second being State.  I do think HA/VRBO has a copyright issue once they watermark our photos on their sites. But, if you have posted the same exact photos on a website, youtube,  etc. that is not watermarked, etc., that's another issue.  

         

        As far as driving business to our homes, that remains to be seen. I've not seen many inquiries that google my home (by name) after they've seen it advertised on a site I advertise on. 

         

        My house has an actual name and when I google it It pops up on many clouds. All I can do is monitor that- as best  as I can.

         

        But, should I ever find someone trying to profit - without my written permission - from my home THAT does become a real, legal issue.

         

        Welcome to cyberspace - it's good and it can suck- at the same time.

        debj

    • Active Contributor 295 posts since
      Jun 9, 2011

      There are confidential information Owners provided VRBO/HomeAway when a listing is created, i.e. Owner’s name, email address & property address (some Owners don't want them published). I don't want VRBO/HomeAway to be giving them out, intentionally or unintentionally, because once they are out, the information can be sold to unscrupulous people. If our private information is out, that is a breach, and the possibility of using those information for ill intent is there. Who knows if those private information are now in the hands of Ukranian Scammers? Should I be worrying about my credit card?

    • Contributor 36 posts since
      Jul 6, 2011

      I don't think it's about getting carried away. Many sites that I'm unfamiliar with have my listing on them but they ultimately link back to HA and MY contact information, not a 1 800 number. As far as "helping" on a search engine, I beg to differ. While my VRBO listing cannot be directly linked to Bid vacationrental because they, a) have the old name to my house b) the renters have no way of contacting me, should someone get ripped off by Bidvacationrental.com and the house name were correct they could write on Yelp etc..about being ripped off and someone googleing my house name would come across this information. So I definitely think it has potential to be detrimental to us.

       

      Sussi

    • marym Active Contributor 463 posts since
      Feb 10, 2011

      Somehow, it just doesn't pass the smell test.  If they'd asked me prior to doing it, maybe so.  What concerns me is that we know nothing about it, and who knows where they're diverting the inquiries to....

  • sodamo Contributor 260 posts since
    Nov 5, 2011

    Last night I looked for my property - not there. Did an area search and the listings seemed to match HA, not VRBO.  Today, all the listings are missing.  Good job

     

    I really liked reading the blog entry about fraud.

     

    David

    Sent from my iPad (3rd Gen) Please visit vacation.ninolehawaii.com

  • anja Senior Contributor 1,555 posts since
    Aug 9, 2011

    First, sophie, thank you for telling us about this!

     

    Last night, when I first saw Sophie's warning, I visited BidVacationRental.com and found my photos and text {text lifted from VRBO - not HA}. Second, I phoned the 877 # to get information about the cottage for rent {my cottage}. I wanted to fake an inquiry. But, I got a recorded message that all personnel were busy...leave a message, yadda yadda. I did not leave a message!  But...a few minutes after my call, my own phone rang and the call was from Tampa Florida. It was 9:30 PM in Hawaii...which means it was 3:30 PM in Florida. I did not suspect the caller was connected in any way to BidVacationRental.com -- because I often get calls at all hours of the night in Hawaii {people typically do not check time zones when inquiring}. The Tampa caller listened to my "recorded message about how to inquire, etc.", and then I heard breathing for a couple of seconds...and then "click"...hang up.  I now believe it was Jeff Anderson calling me ...because I clicked into the listing of my property...and phoned the 877#. That's how the website was set up to function. Jeff Anderson positioned himself as an online "booking agent" for us!

     

    What we do not know:

    Would Jeff A. have eventually contacted me {the owner} about a booking?  {My opinion: I seriously doubt it.}

     

    I logged off and went to bed. This morning, the site was "blank" --- as we all know.

     

    Here's my opinion:  Usually, when someone is doing something wrong and they have been "identified", they quickly close up shop and move operations elsewhere. If Jeff Anderson indeed had "permission" or if he has an formal 'association' or even an "affilate relationship with HomeAway", he would not have taken down the content so quickly after a couple of property owners complained to him.

     

    I suspect:   that Jeff Anderson could either be knowingly involved in an Internet scam...or it could very well be that Jeff Anderson was unknowingly involved. Why would I think that? There are millions of people around the world involved in Internet marketing...much of it is legitimate through legal, correctly managed affiliate programs associated with companies that sell goods and services...and home business opportunities. Jeff Anderson could be "innocently" new to Internet marketing -- or he could be a common cyper criminal.

     

    So, this is what we do know:

     

    The domain name, "BidVacationRental.com" was first created and registered on GoDaddy on Sept 14, 2010...and it was last updated on October 6, 2011. So, it's a young domain name -and- the website is quite young with little to no Internet 'history'. How to know? I checked for WayBack pages...which is an online "history" of every web page on the Internet --- to see if I could find any "development" of the website from it's conception to the present...and the only record of "BidVacationRental.com" on WayBack is that Google spidered it only one time...in February 2011. Therefore, the website, "BidVacationRental.com" is "young", little to no visible history of webpages under development.  This is what I am thinking: Jeff Anderson {?) or other responsible person uploaded to the Internet the domain "BidVacationRental.com" which came with a script that he/she purchased to run the site and the script came loaded with "vacation rental" content {which is HA/VRBO content}.

     

    Also: from my contact with GoDaddy, only the domain name is registered with GoDaddy, but GoDaddy is not hosting the website "BidVacationRental". They told me that the host company is in New Jersey {I have the IP address, etc. and the host company information, now.}

     

    We also know:  The domain name is owned by a company called, Covenant Capitol Holdings {it has a website} which claims to be a venture capital and private equity company.

     

    What we do not know:

    - is Covenant Capitol Holdings involved in hacking of data {e.g. from HA}?

    - is Covenant Capitol Holdings involved in the selling of illegally obtained data to sell as a "home-biz" opportunity, e.g., "BidVacationRental.com"?

    - is Covenant Capitol Holdings a front office for a scam operations, based in California?

    - is, then, Covenant Capitol Holdings selling a script w/content to any others as an  "online opportunity for home biz" to, for example, Jeff Anderson ....and did they sell it to others people as a "home biz opportunity"?

    - is Jeff Anderson a willing scammer...or did he innocently purchase a script with content as a profitable "home business"?

    - is this a willing scam operation, at all? {I don't think we can find out now, because Jeff Anderson has been "frightened" and he closed shop. We have to scan the Internet to see if such a "shop reopens" elsewhere with a different domain name. Then, we can try  to catch someone in the act of using the content, e.g. our property, to steal from others}.

     

    OR...

    - is Covenant Capitol Holdings involved in a legal relationship with HA? Perhaps HA is looking into the "bidding" platform for a future vacation rental portal?

     

    The last point is important. We need to know if HA is indeed involved in a new venture in association with Covenant Capitol Holdings. And, if they are...we will have to look into whether we must accept that they may have the rights to use the advertising content we willingly uploaded to HA-VRBO sites --- we'll have to check the "small print".

    Shouldn't they need our agreement to accept and sign on to a new format of advertising of our properties...e.g.  to agree to accept "low bids"?  I should think so.  We already pay a high premium to advertise on the HA family of websites....so why in the world would we agree to encouraged "low ball bids"?

     

    However, I don't think this is done with the permit of HA.  I suspect this was a scam operation. I'm just not certain if Jeff Anderson is innocent of any willful wrong doing.

  • trish Contributor 151 posts since
    Feb 24, 2011

    There's also a post on the forum about Best Bid vacation rentals now.

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