13 Replies Latest reply: Jun 30, 2019 2:59 PM by feibus RSS

    Scam - New Inquiry

    ashevillelookout Senior Contributor

      THe scammers are still at it.  I received a new inquiry the other day for a week rental that read ‘Is your cabin available?’  As I am travelling, I used the iPhone app to send a response which sent as a approval to book (to my dismay).  


      Didn‘t hear anything for several days, and in the meantime, accepted another reservation for part of the inquiry dates.  So I sent a sorry, we can no longer accept your rental to the inquirer.


      I got  back the known boilerplate message about the company paying for the vacation, kindly asking me to send information on where to send the check and asking me to call a phone number in Detroit that was spelled out by xxx few word xxx few word xxxx.  


      The traveler email address showed as verified by Vrbo, but no Facebook verification.


      As a warning to all new forum members and Vrbo homeowners, the scammers are still out there and getting through the Vrbo traveler verification process.  BEWARE of company paid or send a check inquiries!

        • Re: Scam - New Inquiry
          bonesxxx Active Contributor

          I get one or two of those every week.  I now reply with just a "." to keep my response rate high and mark as spam.


          I think I shared on here once that I toyed with one of these characters... ultimately sending him $1,400 in cash (which I am sure got him very excited).  His excitement was undoubtedly crushed when he opened the envelope to find $1,400 in Tanzanian dollars (about 60 cents US).


          Meh, it was fun while it lasted.  Not worth the energy anymore.

          • Re: Scam - New Inquiry
            treeguy Contributor

            I have received so many of these scams that anymore if I receive an inquiry asking if my home is available I simply respond 'yes' in a text only reply.  Wait a couple of days for the inevitable ' my company is paying for this trip ' go to the vrbo site and mark it as spam.  I really want to mark it as spam with the initial inquiry but I don't want to risk mislabeling a bonified inquiry.

            The HA verification is pretty much a joke.

              • Re: Scam - New Inquiry
                jkovar55 New Member

                Just listed my property on VRBO and immediately got hit with one of these.  Wish I had read the process outlined here before I spent all the effort conversing back and forth with the scammer.


                Can someone point me in a direction where I can see how this entire reservation/payment process is supposed to work.  It appears choosing "instant booking" might not be best option.


                Any help for newbie appreciated.

                  • Re: Scam - New Inquiry
                    wildiris Senior Contributor

                    The scam referred to in ashvillelookout's post only works if a guest is paying by check.  HomeAway now requires virtually all listings to use HomeAway Payments which means that the guest must pay with a credit card.  So, this scam isn't a concern for you if the booking is paid for through HomeAway Payments.  That said, an owner who uses HomeAway Payments can still be the victim of a scam.  A guest who books a vacation rental shortly before the stay can be using a stolen credit card.  Also, a guest can use his own credit card and then issue a chargeback with his credit card company after he leaves.

                    • Re: Scam - New Inquiry
                      margaret CommunityAmbassador

                      jkovar55  This type of scam will not be an instant booking. IB requires the guest to enter their credit card and make payment. When receive an inquiry to your inbox, reply to the guest quickly, answer any questions asked, ask any questions you need answered and offer any information you feel will help the guest choose your home for their stay. I also remind the guest that I require a signed rental agreement, a gov issued photo ID and the max occupancy I allow in my home. You may or may not hear back from them, often guests send out many inquiries. If they respond and all is acceptable, I ask them to make payment.  I have a similar process for request to book, the difference being I accept the booking within the 24 hours window whether they have responded or not. Once the request to book is accept the guest credit card is charged. Instant Book is just that booked and paid when it arrives in your inbox. Once again,  I send the same info.



                      Yes respond to the message. You can simply say "scam" or whatever you like but you should respond.
                      I send the access info about 1 week prior to arrival, at this point payment has been made in full and the RA and Id have been submitted to me. My key code will not work until check in time and date, I make the guest aware of this fact.

                  • Re: Scam - New Inquiry
                    shez25 New Member

                    I am new at this and Just received my second in only 2 weeks.   So,  I do need to ‘reply’ to these messages in order to maintain good standing even though i forwarded it to  ‘spoof’ @ HA.  Should I be concerned about an inquiry requesting to be sent address and entry info 10 days befroe scheduled stay?  Or is that reasonable?


                    TiA for your assistance!

                      • Re: Scam - New Inquiry
                        wildiris Senior Contributor

                        shez25 wrote:


                        Should I be concerned about an inquiry requesting to be sent address and entry info 10 days befroe scheduled stay?  Or is that reasonable?


                        If the request for the address of your rental and entry information has been made by a guest who has made the final payment, yes, this is perfectly reasonable.  The address of my vacation rental is included in the rental agreement that the guest signs within 48 hours of the booking.  Final payment for my rental is due 60 days before the rental commences.  Once a guest has paid in full, I send him entry information.  As a traveler who books through Vrbo, I would want and expect the address of the rental after I make my first payment and I would want and expect entry information after I have made the final payment.

                          • Re: Scam - New Inquiry
                            jkovar55 New Member

                            I see you use split payments.  Can you tell me what happens if you get a "last minute" booking that is within the 60 day cutoff?  Does the system automatically require 100% payment?  I just listed and trying to determine best path forward.


                            Also, do you use instant booking or 24 hour confirmation?


                            Your help is appreciated

                              • Re: Scam - New Inquiry
                                ohst8er Premier Contributor

                                jkovar55, yes.  Any booking within the 60 day window will auto require the guest to pay 100% up front, if you have set your 2nd payment to collect at 60 days. 

                                • Re: Re: Scam - New Inquiry
                                  wildiris Senior Contributor

                                  Yes - as ohs8ter said, if a booking originates less than 60 days before the rental, the Vrbo system automatically charges the full payment.  I just started to use IB within the past month.  I have received one IB booking so far.  I require all guests to sign and return my rental agreement within 48 hours.  This IB guest didn't do that.  I had to send the following email to the guest:


                                  "I’m checking to see if you are still interested in renting “XXXXX” from Saturday, July 20, 2019 to Saturday, July 27, 2019.  As stated in the listing on Vrbo and in my email to you dated May 28, 2019 (copy below), your reservation is tentative and will be cancelled unless I receive a signed rental agreement from you.  The rental agreement was due by 9:00 p.m. this evening.  If I do not receive the signed rental agreement from you by 12:00 pm (noon) on Friday, May 31, 2019, I will cancel your reservation and make the dates available to rent by other individuals."

                                  The guest apologized, asked me to please not cancel the reservation, and sent the signed rental agreement to me right away.

                              • Re: Scam - New Inquiry
                                twobitrentals CommunityAmbassador

                                I Send the week of their arrival so that it is fresh! As wildiris said though payment has been made in full and all documentation received. If either of those things are not completed.....no reservation!

                                  • Re: Scam - New Inquiry
                                    wildiris Senior Contributor

                                    Good point.  I also send an email to each guest two weeks before his rental that repeats the entry instructions, driving directions, lists of items that I provide guests, etc.  I found that a lot of guests were forgetting that I had sent this information two months before their rental begins.

                                • Re: Scam - New Inquiry
                                  feibus Senior Contributor

                                  I got a unique scam the other day: person contacting me through my own web site claimed they wanted to book, but were concerned over a negative facebook review and would I look at the review and provide some kind of reassurances.


                                  The link had "facebook" in it, but wasn't a facebook link at all.  Delete.  Phishing emails don't go over well with me.