Only thing I can think of is perhaps to setup a google alert -- looking for terms you use in your listing (you can do an "exact keyword phrase" by surrounding the phrase with the double-quotes as I just did) -- but that only works if you're scoundrel is using your whole listing, or parts of your text.
I have not had any luck with Tin Eye (www.tineye.com) finding images of mine that have been stolen off my web site. Best you can do, it seems, is embed a watermark...
Actually, I take part of that back -- I'm not sure about VRBO / HomeAway, but with some web site hosting setups you can restrict a photo so if it's not loaded directly off your page (i.e. by the supporting HTML file) then it won't display. But that doesn't gurantee they can't steal the photo--just that they can't be totally lazy...
That's probably a bit more technical than you wanted, but anyway....
It is creepy to have that happen. I only listed one time on Craig's List, as it's just too much work to go in each week and renew the listing, but from that one time someone took the listing and set up one of the "we're missionaries to Africa and have this place we need to rent while we're gone" type of thing on another free rental website. I'm not sure how someone noticed it, but he said he was a prospective renter calling my attention to it after seeing the strange wording and seeing what looked like the real ad on Craig's List. Very weird and I sure hope no one got taken in by it. Didn't seem to be anything I could do as it was off of both sites by the time I looked for it, but I did notify the Craig's List spam/fraud department.
This is pretty disturbing that someone can copy your Craigslist ad (which is easy to do) and change the contact information to the scammers information. And they request money up front. I post to Craigilist my vacation rental ads every fews week and check other listing for this. But haven't seen it happen. However, I can see this happening very easily.
It would be nice if Craigslist prevented IPs that are out of the area from posting. For example, someone from Africa or California trying to post in the MD craiglist section. This would prevent alot of scams like this.
Actually, I've never listed on Craigs List. They copied my photos and
property description from my HomeAway listing, and put it on Craigs List
with their name, email, etc. It was very creepy. I never go on Craigs
List, so until I got an inquiry about it, I had no idea that my property had
been listed on CraigsList. I think HomeAway should put an identifier on the
property owner photos they post, so this can't be done.
Thanks for your response. Pamela
Actually what Homeaway could do is prevent images from displaying on 3rd party websites. There are several things they can do to prevent people from copying images
One is to disgust the image name
~ versus ~
Another is preventing hot linking. This stops image from displaying correct on 3rd party sites.
This a very important problem that Pamela has brought up.
It has nothing to do with whether you personally advertise your property on Craigslist. Pamela is saying that she has never advertised on Craigslist. But ... the scammers steal her photos from HomeAway or whatever other listings she has. Then the scammers post a fake ad on Craigslist and try to get the money from people up front, by posting a fake ad and asking travelers to send them money. In reality, these scammers don't even have access to the property, of course.
This is fraud and may even be impersonation and Identity Theft (they are impersonating Pamela, who is the real owner of the property). This is a serious problem!
In addition to the money these criminals are stealing from the people they are fooling ... and the loss of credibility caused to Pamela and anyone else whose property pictures etc have been stolen .... these scams could have all sorts of negative impacts.
If people are getting burned by these scammers, it will hurt the vacation rental business. People will be reluctant to book with bona fide vacation home owners if they are afraid of being scammed ... they might decide to "play it safe" and stay at a hotel instead.
Is there any kind of criminal action that can be taken?
And is there any way we can prevent our own photos and property descriptions etc from being stolen and used for in this manner ... for criminal activities and fraud?
It really is quite scary!
I just received an inquiry on my Home Away from a customer who said she was ready to make the payment for a 3 day stay over the Christmas break. She mentioned a name of someone she had exchanged e-mails with and it was not me or my property manager, so I checked on Craigslist, and sure enough, someone has copied and pasted my ad and offered the villa that normally rents for $650 a night over the Christmas break for $180.
This is the 4th time this has happened, each time I flag the listing and contact craigslist to report the scam. Craigslist normally takes the ad down after a day or so, but then the thiefs just change their e-mail, and copy and post a new ad in a few weeks. I've also reported it to Home Away and VRBO, and got a response saying there is nothing they can do. Really ?
There is a link on Craisglist to an FBI and FCC investigation website, Has anyone attempted to report these scams, and if so, what was the result?
Is there any way to keep the scammers from copying our photos and text from our ads ?
I copied and pasted the scam ad from Craigslist, we'll see how soon it gets taken down this time.
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As an owner, I advertise on vrbo and craigs list. I have learned to recognize scams...example...received an inquiry from UK wanting to rent my home for honeymoon...same inquires worded the same by different people ...ending in regards and their name. My first experience, I agreed to rent to them and they sent payment in moneyorder form $2000 too much. I asked why they over paid me? They said to deposit it and refund them the over payment that they accidentally paid me for airfare. Do they really think I am that stupid? I contacted the post office, they told me these scams are constant and many fall for it, by the time the owner realizes the money order is a scam, they have already refunded the scammer their money. The post office said only thing to do is no further response. I received threats from them saying they sent me too much money for me to send the difference back or they will contact the fbi cia...etc. I still have the moneyorder in my file in case I need to show it to anyone but, not sure what to do about it. Hope owners do not fall for this scam and send their own money to these people. I do beleive the scammers are getting my information from craigs list. I always ask people to go to vrbo listing to inquire as many people do look at craigslist for a deal. I will not rent to anyone outside the US.
Note to someone wanting to rent a home, to verify you are booking from the owner...you can google the property appraiser site for the county the home is in and do property search by address or name, you can verify the name of the property owner for that address so you know you are making payment to the owner of the home. The site tells you when they purchased the home...etc, public record.
Are the dates on these posts correct? I received over 20 emails from one name becaue I thought I was getting a good deal on a 2 bedroom condo in Ocean City. However when I found out he wanted me to wire $420 via western union to a different name. I hesitated. He kept saying this isn't spam you need to trust me. I found the same pics he had on craiglist on another site and I called the owner and discussed to him what I noticed. You might be the same guy I called not sure. But were in May and this says March? So maybe this is another post from someone else with the same situation. The original ad on facebook was flagged so now it can't be viewed. I even went as far as going to a western union, but then they told me they needed cash. So I went to the bank and got the cash out. Then I wanted to do a little more research and googled scammers use western union and have alot of typos. And this guy was itchy from the start. Did anyone else receive emails like this? He sent me booking forms, etc. I saved every single email.
Please read what the advertiser is saying. HomeAway makes it easy to copy the photos from thier website and post them elsewhere. This is because the photos we post do not get watermarked. But the big scam is when "renters" ask for additional photos and the exact address. Then they pirate the home ans liste it as thier own.
Guess what? In HomeAway's irrelevant FAQ's they advise real rentors to ask for more photos and the location.
HA needs to understand what we go through.
This just happened to us also. Scammers stole our text and photos from HomeAway and listed on craigslist. We found it two days after the listing
The way we handled it was
1. Engaged 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 (which by the way was NOT the same email address they were using for their email communications)
3. I then reported this to the Fraud department at PAYPAL who noted interest in pursuing, especially as I had the email address.
4. Put up my own Craigslist 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. Report it at the Internet Crime Complaint Center (ic3.gov).
I have read many folks on the HA communication site say no one does anything about these reports. And that the only thing we can do is be self-vigilant. I agree we have to be self-vigilant. But I also haven’t 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 the scammers bank accounts and via that to the scammers themselves. Even if the scammers haven’t linked their PAYPAL to a Bank account PAYPAL can shut the account down. As all good Hollywood movies say - follow the money!
I encourage everyone whose property is being used to by Scammers to list on Craigslist to report the situation to PAYPAL. But you will have to play along with the scammers for a while to get their email address that they want to use for the PAYPAL payment (which was NOT the email address they were using for their email communications).
Even if my one case doesn’t provide enough links and information to the PAYPAL fraud department to catch the scum if enough of us call PAYPAL with information perhaps enough 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.
I just got an email tonight from a potential guest who said they saw my home on a craigs list ad.
DOES ANY ONE WANT TO GO AFTER tTHIS Fraudulent listing ON MY BEHALF.. nooooo wait..... don't do that .
Then my home, or my person, my family could - might easily be subjected to retaliation.
The more I think about this problem and the more changes that I am subjected to by Homeaway and VRBO.. like the most recent = the exortion of 2.5% of the rental rate from either me or my guests. (it wouldn't be extortion if I was allowed to use PayPal Icons and buttons in my listing)
I feel even more strongly that this theft of information for fraudulent purposes is absolutely homeaway/VRBO responsibility to protect the integrity of the product they sell by creating a fraud department and going after those that steal the information from them, which ultimately can and will hurt us.