June 11: Just found my VRBO/HomeAway property freshly listed on Craigslist by scammers unknown. They copied some of my text and photos from HomeAway and are selling it at a discount. I'm certain they expect to collect deposits and rentals against that listing. Where are law enforcement agencies? What is HomeAway doing to focus this to law enforcement? How many times has this been done I wonder?
Since these scammers are generally lazy they seem to just copy stuff. I am going to search in Google for reused text by using short, specific strings of words from my listing to find where it's been copied by others. This is the biggest threat to our industry and to HomeAway.
I wonder what percentage of listings on Craigslist are fraudulent? I listed there for a few days in 2010. The first words received from the few Craigslist callers was "how much". It's the wild west all over again.
Sorry that your rental was victimized by scammers.
You can report the "Fraudulent Posting" to Craigslist.
As the legitimate owner, you can also warn potential renter victims by posting on Craigslist mentioning the particular ad as a scam.
Post your own Legitimate Ad on Craigslist, stating that you are the legitimate owner and all other ads are fraudulent.
Scammers usually request payment by Western Union and do not post a telephone number.
Don't expect Law Enforcement to do anything. These scams don't even show up on their Internet Crime Radar.
There was a discussion during the Executive Q&A at the HomeAway Summit pertaining to scammers illegally advertising properties on Craigslist. If you have been impacted by this, please send your story directly to firstname.lastname@example.org. Based on your collective feedback, we will reach out directly to Craigslist to try to greatly improve the situation.
Community Manager & Summit Coordinator
In fact the percentage of scam on Craigslist IS indeed very HIGH. You need proof?
Choose a popular destination (NY, Tel Aviv, Paris) choose one appartment with an attractive price, and find out in the list how many ads you find with the same title; Ex: 3 BR, 2BA Tel Aviv Opera House.
It is so easy to put up a fraud/scam! The crook does not need to be a Geek! No!
Within a few minutes you copy/paste the text and pics, you create asimilar ad and all you do is ask for a money tranfer on an external account.
Who is going to verify? Craiglist? Why would they? The victim? It's too late!
The only Scam chaser will be the owner of the property, because he will hardly sell or rent out his property given his situation!
With the internet, it is very easy for criminals to scam.
We should all be vigilant and do searches, at least monthly, using our headline or other parragraphs of our property on Google, if something shows up that can put you at risk, report it to Craig's List or the provider.
I use Google Alerts to do the search daily:
It will send you an email if it finds your keywords.
I check CL almost every day because the scammers tend to love my property for some reason. I actually "booked" my property through an ad to see what happened. You would have thought them the real owners or managers as they sent me a contract, was very attentive, etc. When it came to send the money, they wanted only western union and got a little hostile wanting to know when I was sending them the money so they could have owner waiting! I reported the email address to every agency I could find along with the name of the "owner" I was supposed to mail the money to.
Recently discovered that our rental property in Delaware was also being fraudulently listed on Craigslist, using our exact language and photos from our Homeaway and VRBO listings! I reported the listing as fraudulent to Craigslist and they removed it within 30 minutes. But I made sure to take a screen shot of the listing first. I also called the Federal Trade Commission and reported the fraud. I'm not sure they will do anything about it but I wanted to be sure to do my part to stop these scammers!
I'm wondering if VRBO and Homeaway, etc., might consider automatically including a watermark on the photos that includes the VRBO (or Homeaway) listing number. This way, when scam artists try to lift our description and photos to post on Craigslist, the photos would direct people back to the legitimate listing.
This Craigslist situation has really gotten out of hand for us. The scammer has listed our home 8 times on Craigslist. Every time we flag it for removal, he just reposts a few days later. If this situation is happening to multiple vacation rentals, it's a black eye on our whole industry.
Got a call from a lady who was Scammed by an ad on Craigslist using my property. She sent her $$ via Paypal back in June and now is asking me for directions and check-in for Sept. Interestingly, she is a Vacation Rental owner herself (She should have known better).
Anyway I posted an ad on Craigslist Warning of Vacation Rental Scams.
This happens to me every year on Craigsllist. It's best to check it almost daily so that you can report it to Craigslist. At least, they are good at removing it immediately. Also, post my own response to these SCAM ads concerning my property, stating that I am the actual owner and do not give these thieves any money.
This just happend to us also. Scammers stole our text and photos from HomeAway and listed on craigslist. We found it two days after the listing
They way we handled it was
1.enaged as a potential renter via email with the scammers noting interest in renting the property
2.they sent a contract and asked we send a deposit via PAYPAL. They sent their email address to use to pay at PAYPAL
3. I then reported this to the Fraud department at PAYPAL who noted interst in pursuing, especailly as I had teh email address.
4. put up my own Carigslist ad with the same title as used by the scammers followed by SCAM noting us to be the true owners and warning people not to respond to the original ad
5. Reported it to Craigslist
6.Reported it at the Internet Crime Complaint Center (ic3.gov).
I have read many folks on the communication site say no one does anything about these reports. But then again I havnt seen anyone say they followed through with PAYPAL. Well I can tell you PAYPAL was VERY appreciative to know - and remember PAYPAL has the control to the money the scammers are trying to get out of people and maybe even information to their bank acounts and via that to the scammers themselves. As all good hollywood movies say - follow the money! I encourage everyone whose property is being used to scam renters to report to PAYPAL. But you will have to play along with teh scammers for a while to get their email address that they want to use for teh PAYPAL payment (which by the way was NOT the email address they were using for their email communications).
Even if my one case doesnt provide enough links and information to the PAYPAL fraud department to catch the scum if enough of us call PAYPAL with information perhaps ebnough of a pattern will evolve that they can track the scum.
Minimally we can be as big a thorn in their sides as they are in ours and best case we get them caught.
We also recently went through this with three postings that showed up on Craig's List. In addition to reporting this to HomeAway, Craig's list and the Internet Crime Complaint Center, you need to report it to your local police department (where you vacation rental is located). Our police department took it very seriously. They assigned a detective to our case and gave us a case number. They have all the information that I was able to gather and they are ready to investigate, however, they cannot move on the case until someone steps forward who has actually given the scammer money. We want to be sure we are ready if someone shows up at our front door claiming to have made a Craig's List reservation. We can at least tell them that we have done everything possible and they can help the police track this guy down. Personally, I feel Craig's List needs to make the Vacation Rental section a paid ads section and that will stop many of these guys. The are drawn to the fact that it is free.
I actually do have a site on Craigslist. I feel that is the best way to prevent someone duplicating my VRBO site. It is already there! However, these folks sent me the typical "we want to rent and send you funds through our employer, blah, blah, blah. I simply wrote back and said that all funds must go through my VRBO website, through Reservation Manager...........to which...crickets.
Then, I just just copied and pasted their address into a search engine and the same address came up on a scam site. I am not surprised and that is why I posted it here so that others can be aware.
By the way, it was quite good. We are coming from germany, husband, 2 children and myself for 3 days on these dates, etc. Was almost believable..........."except" for the we will need your address so that we can send you a cashiers check, travelers checks, etc. I have heard this routine so many times now, but they are getting quite good at sounding like real families coming to visit.