16 Replies Latest reply: Nov 25, 2012 3:17 PM by tina.magnuson RSS

    Another scam inquiry


      I received this inquiry in the 5 am hour... probably from a foreign country.  It read:


      "Good Morning, We are looking for a place for a "quite" (wrong spelling) vacation.  I think i like your place.  I would like to know the full rent for 7 days including utilities and other added services.  I would also like the state and condition of the place at this present time.  I would be sending a check to cover the payment.  Have a great day "okay" (my quote marks...red flag).


      The period of rental request is 8 days, and he said 7.  Also a check at the last minute...no thank you.  And no phone number.  So I responded to this one is to send me his phone number so we can discuss this further.  No matter how good a possible rental is, you can't turn a scam into a profit for yourself.  I do not expect to hear from him again.  He wants all of these details but does not give a last name or a phone number.  Always a red flag. I have never had a rental without one or the other, but generally almost always they give me both.    Also, his email address was from live.com... I think they can create many alias' using this, best I can tell (I think you can use it to issue group email addresses?)  BTW, "he thinks he likes my place"...  No one never uses the word "thinks" when they tell me what they like about my place.


      Hope this helps anyone who receives similar requests.

        • Re: Another scam inquiry
          Active Contributor

          I got two fake inquiries in the last couple of days, I am listing their email addresses so if anyone does a search, they will not fall prey. When I receive an email, if it looks fishy, I start investigating,


          Below two email scams received recently. Neither of them bothered to view my web page, and they were ready to send payment.




          Hello, You have very a nice and conducive vacation resort.....  My vacation begins by the end of the month... So i will pay in advance ( ahead of time ) as im interested to spend my vacation holiday in *deleted*


          I'm alergic to cash (irritant Dermaitis)  <== HIGH ALERT, ON FIRST EMAIL WANTS TO ISSUE CHECK

          i can issue you a cheque. if its ok by you.


          Please kindly let me know so i can neccesary arrangement. <== HIGH ALERT, MOST SCAMS USE "KINDLY"







          > Hello,
          >  Am interested in your room/apt..please let me know if its still available <== HIGH ALERT, I HAVE A HOME, NOT APARTMENT
          > ..how long is it available for and what is the final price for the rent per
          > month? i dont smoke and i dont drink.and send me pics if available
          > ..bernita



          Rent safe,




            • Re: Another scam inquiry
              Active Contributor

              A few suggestions to all about preventing scams. If you receive an e-mail with some of these warning signs, raise a flag, no one flag means a scam, but you should investigate further and be cautious.


              1. E-mail  is sent from universal accounts (gmail, yahoo, hotmail, etc) and not private accounts (me@mycompany.com)
              2. Eager to send payment on first e-mail
              3. Does not provide phone number or the phone is incorrect, missing a digit.
              4. Does not provide much details about the reservation (number of people, exact dates)
              5. Dates are vague (end of month, in October, etc)
              6. Look to reserve for a long time in a location where most rentals are short (reserve for the month rather than a week).
              7. Refers to your place in generic terms ("your room/apartment")
              8. Your response comes back with more vague information, i.e. they don't provide you their phone number or more information requested by you.
              9. Many misspells (I don't expect all guests to write correctly).
              10. Their form of payment does not correspond to the usual and customary for the country they are from (Paypal is very common in Canada and Europe, credit cards in the USA, ACH or wire in the USA, etc).
              11. Their IP address does not correspond to the city where they are reserving from (Compare IP vs. Area codes)
              12. Their communication is too formal ("Kindly request")
              13. Their e-mail address has no prior history (No facebook, linkedin, blogs, etc)
              14. Inquiry did not come through the Homeaway or VRBO mailing system but contacted you directly after seeing the ad in these pages (HA & VRBO have a filter for known scammers).


              May guests do not provide their phone number the first time around, use gmail, and send multiple requests, so I use these as just a caution flag and investigate further.



              1. IP address correspond to a high risk country (Ukraine, Africa, Russia)
              2. Their mailing address is from Ukraine
              3. Proposes payment by check, money order and not credit card, Paypal or bank transfers.
              4. They offer to overpay and request a refund after the payment clears.
              5. They are acting on behalf of someone else ("I would like to reserve for my guests ...")
              6. Their e-mail address is listed as a scammer by another blogger.
              7. Accept the price and all conditions even without looking at any contracts (The place am located and the price is not the problem, i am satisfy with the condition of the item and will add extra $500 for you to know am serious)
              8. After sending payment, pressure you to refund the difference via Western Union. Beware of Paypal phishing fraud.
              9. Person currently traveling and cannot provide you with phone number.


              Here are a few things you should do if you have any doubts:


              • Do an Area Code search, http://www.allareacodes.com/reverse-phone-lookup/ to see if phone corresponds to city where they claim to be from. If the provider is Y Max communications means Magic Jack, and Broadwing and CTC Communication is Vonage, neither one is located where they say they are and can be transferred overseas. So can Skype and Google Voice.
              • Do an IP Lookup and see where the e-mail is coming from. Be aware that Gmail does not provide origin of e-mail (Always Palo Alto, CA), yahoo and Hotmail can be traced. http://www.ipmarker.com/trace-email/index.php
              • Copy/paste the e-mail address in Google to search existence and history of the e-mail. 800 million people have facebook, 100 million have Linkedin, most people have left traces in blogs. See if their e-mail is on any blacklist.


              I know it is cumbersome, and I do it when I have doubts, that is why I have my own renting policy.


              Finally, define your clear renting policies, and if the guest does not comply, do not go through. Would you require any of the following before renting?

              1. Do you require a phone conversation with the guest (Difficult if they speak another language) before sending the contract?
              2. Do you require a signed contract?
              3. Do you require a copy of their ID?
              4. Street Address of their home?
              5. Require credit card for security deposit?
              6. Do you accept checks, or money orders?
              7. Do you accept bank wires, credit cards, etc
              8. When is full payment due? 30 days before, the night before?
              9. Do you issue refunds for overpayment?
              10. Any other requirement you see fit.



              Most inquiries are honest and both owner and guest have an excellent experience, but we must strive to maintain the industry clean and reduce the fraud.


              Happy Renting!!!






                • Re: Another scam inquiry

                  Thank you for the many suggestions which I know will help a lot of new people to the site and others.  The inquiry I mentioned above came through the regular VRBO channel and emailed me the inquiry... Is there a way to see the ip address in that case?  I did not know about a match between the area code and ip address.  That is helpful.  I do use facebook, blogs, and all sorts of other stuff to check people out (I only use free resources).  Sometimes you'll even see other stuff like they are giving someone a party and use their email address in a website. 

                    • Re: Another scam inquiry
                      Active Contributor

                      By searching their IP address (see http://community.homeaway.com/message/33969#33969 ) and identifying the location where the email came from using their IP address. If this is the initial e-mail through Homeaway or VRBO it will show from Denver, CO, but further responses will come from their location (unless they use Gmail).


                      I compare their location with the Area code of their phone number, to make sure it matches, if I get an area code in Chicago using Vonage or Magic Jack and the IP is in Italy, and they say they are from California, something is rotten.


                      I just got another response from the scammer I mentioned above, after I told them I would not take checks, only wire transfers:


                      I'm sorry I don't have that.. My bank can't make transfer

                      On Saturday, September 22, 2012, Gabriel Solorzano (Pochomil Beach) <gabriel@pochomilbeach.com> wrote:
                      > Hi Kriss:

                      > We can take credit cards, paypal or wire transfers only.




                      Her bank can't make transfers? OMG!!!


                        • Re: Another scam inquiry

                          Thank goodness most of these scams are easy to spot.

                          • Re: Another scam inquiry
                            Active Contributor

                            They keep on coming, today I got at least 10 scam e-mails after putting the ad on Craigslist, all of the e-mails had IDENTICAL text, but were sent from different emails, all Gmails. Amazing these thieves are not even creative:



                            I found your Reservation Listed here on Craigslist, i want to know if  it's available for 7days From Oct 1st til 7th of Oct.. I'm Interested email me back asap... Thanks


                            **~Sent from my MOTOROLA ATRIX™ HD on AT&T**~


                      • Re: Another scam inquiry
                        New Member

                        Good morning. Can anyone tell me if there fraud carried out by paying with

                        credit card. I have made a payment with paypal. The money has been debited

                        from my paypal account but you are told that you are not verified. thanks



                        2012/9/22 gabriel <community@homeaway.com>




                        image: Community from HomeAway <http://community.homeaway.com> Seek

                        Advice. Get Answers. Optimize your Vacation Rental Business.

                           Re: Another scam inquiry  creato da gabriel<http://community.homeaway.com/people/gabriel>in

                        Scams - Visualizza la discussione completa<http://community.homeaway.com/message/33964#33964>


                          • Re: Another scam inquiry
                            anja Senior Contributor

                            frix wrote:


                            ......I have made a payment with paypal. The money has been debited

                            from my paypal account but you are told that you are not verified. thanks




                            Hi frix,


                            I'm not certain whether you are referring to *your* PayPal account or someone else's PP account (a rental owner's). But, actually it doesn't matter because I think I can answer you.


                            Regardless, there is an "unverified" PayPal account involved here...either you or the rental owner has an unverified PP account!   Verification simply means to prove your identity  (to PayPal) as the  legitimate owner of the credit card(s) you are using with PayPal.  For the sake of my post, I'm going to assume that it is *you* with the unverified account, okay?  Here goes:  You must have inserted your cc details into your PP member profile, right?  If so, you are not done yet....you still need to "verify your identity as the true owner of that credit card".  It's a PP security measure for members.


                            For every single account, when it is first set up, PP charges a very small amount of money ...pennies....to the credit card that you recorded in your PP member profile.  You are instructed (by PP) to find the "small amount" in your cc statement (or bank statement)...then login to your PP account, click on "verify" account...and type in the small amount of money that PP charged your cc.  Why?  Because that is the way that PP knows that you are the person who owns that credit card....(it isn't a stolen card) ...because you are the only person that will see the credit card statement / or the bank statement...only the legitimate owner of the cc will receive the statement and will know how many pennies PP charged. That's how you verify your identity with PP as the owner of the credit card.  Until you do this verification step, your account will always be labeled "Unverified Member".


                            If PP has a "unverified member" next to your name, then you never did that step...so you never proved that you are, indeed, the owner of the credit card you are charging to. 


                            It's important to verify your identity because regardless of whether you are a rental owner  or a buyer (shopper)....everyone who sees a receipt of payment from you...or an invoice from you....also sees the PP note that you are "unverified member".  It gives a better impression when it says, instead:  "Verified Member". 


                            Find your cc statement from the time that you first signed up with PP and look for the tiny amount of money that PP charged....then, follow the instructions to "verify".  If you can't find it...then contact PP and explain that you never verified...you want to now....and they will refund the first tiny amount of funds and re-charge your card...pay attention to their next email and follow their instruction.


                            Now, if it is the property owner that is the "Unverified Member"...it's the same story.  S/he never verified her credit card to PP.  And...as a result of that...you feel insecure about that person!   It doesn't necessarily mean "scam artist" because many people fail to do the verification step.


                            And, that is why PP set up a verification step...so both buyer and seller feel secure about each other!  It's about projecting as much trust as possible.

                          • Re: Another scam inquiry
                            New Member

                            Sorry, I meant to say that I received a card payment cerdito. thanks Frix


                            2012/9/23 Francesco Amico <cfrancesco.amico@gmail.com>


                            Good morning. Can anyone tell me if there fraud carried out by paying with

                            credit card. I have made a payment with paypal. The money has been debited

                            from my paypal account but you are told that you are not verified. thanks




                            2012/9/22 gabriel <community@homeaway.com>


                            >> **


                            >>  image: Community from HomeAway <http://community.homeaway.com> Seek

                            >> Advice. Get Answers. Optimize your Vacation Rental Business.

                            >>    Re: Another scam inquiry  creato da gabriel<http://community.homeaway.com/people/gabriel>in

                            >> Scams - Visualizza la discussione completa<http://community.homeaway.com/message/33964#33964>

                              • Re: Another scam inquiry
                                Active Contributor

                                Hi Frix:


                                I am not sure I understood your question, are your renting or an owner getting paid?


                                If you are renting, make sure that you speak with the owner and not deal only by e-mail, specially if it is a new listing. Pay with credit card or PayPal according to the rental terms, usually a portion at the time of reservation and the rest within 30 days of arrival and make sure you get a contract.


                                If you are an owner, most scams do not involve using your property, but the overpayment type that the guest demands a refund.


                                Typical scams:

                                1. Don't have credit card, must send check: They send a check and include an overpayment, later contacting you that their company included their travel expenses, and request that you send them a refund minus your expenses, via Western Union. You deposit the check, it clears after 3-7 days, they keep pressuring you and you send the refund. A month later your bank notifies you that the check was a forgery and withdraw all the funds from your account. You loose the refund sent to the scammer plus bank fees and your home reservation that was not rented.
                                2. Money Order: Similar to a check, they send a forged money order and request immediate payment back since it is a "guaranteed funds". Owners fall for the scam very happy to have their home rented.
                                3. Offer to pay via PayPal: Send you a PayPal confirmation with an overpayment, request that you refund, same as before. But the PayPal email is a forgery, they never sent payment via PayPal and you believed the email without checking your PayPal account.


                                To protect yourself:

                                1. Guest and owner must talk on the phone before renting.
                                2. Payment should protect both parties, buyer and seller, PayPal, credit cards have a way to charge back if the seller does not deliver what was promised.
                                3. When receiving credit card payments, owner should obtain all necessary information to avoid frivolous chargebacks. Such as CVV code, mailing address, ID of renter and a signed contract.
                                4. NEVER REFUND OVERPAYMENTS, only refund the security deposit after the rental.
                                5. If the guest cancels before arrival and you do not have a cancellation policy or your policy has a penalty lower than the amount paid thus far, refund it in the same manner it was paid, via credit card refund or PayPal refund. If it was paid by check, you must investigate before refunding.
                                6. When in doubt, read "How to Prevent being Scammed" http://community.homeaway.com/thread/6194?tstart=0


                                Happy renting





                            • Re: Another scam inquiry
                              carol Premier Contributor

                              Here's a new one I just received.  A "Karina Garcia" with an aol.com address emailed me with the subject "Booking a Villa" -- there was no text  in the email, just an image.  If you click on the image, a screen appears that mimics a Gmail login screen perfectly - for a minute, I thought I had just been logged out and was tempted to log in again.  Obviously, this is an attempt to harvest my gmail login and password. 


                              I've reported the email to abuse@aol.com and hope they will take down her email account. 

                                • Re: Another scam inquiry
                                  scottr Active Contributor


                                  Good post and great catch.  This is another opportunity to educate users.  In this type of phishing, once you type in your username and password, you will get a page that says your password is incorrect.  The NEXT page will be the REAL site, and you will log in correctly.  Most users will never realize what happened, and think they just made an error the first time.  It doesn't matter if it is your bank, homeaway, or your email, never log in by following a link. 

                                • Re: Another scam inquiry
                                  Senior Contributor

                                  Hello all,


                                  This has been a great discussion. Tomorrow we'll be publishing a new slide show about How to Spot a Scam! Check back tomorrow afternoon for the final product.





                                  • Re: Another scam inquiry
                                    New Member

                                    I feel like this fall I've had numerous possible scam inquiries.  Feels like folks are either phishing for a place to burglarize after the beach season is over or to get in and squat.  One guy emailed that he was relocating and his email struck me as rather blunt and too short.  Not enough information.  Then the second email he asked for my address before getting any additional info.  As I was staying at the house doing some work at the time I told him if he was wanting to drive by to see the house he should call me and I'd be happy to show him the interior as well. About an hour later a dodgey looking pick up with a scruffy guy did three really slow drive by's and was obviously looking for my house.  About two hours later I emailed to see if the man was still interested in renting and had he driven by. His answer was just a quick "no longer interested" which leads me to believe he realized my house is in close proximity to my neighbors' houses which are occupied year round and not a deserted summer rental only neighborhood.  I told him thanks for letting me know as I was going to schedule some work to be done over the next few weeks if he wasn't renting.  I then asked my neighbor to park her extra car in my driveway when I wasn't up on the weekends.


                                    Another girl claimed to be coming home on leave for 30 days. I grilled her as her English and grammar weren't particularly good and she supposedly had grown up in Connecticut.  She finally disappeared after a week of persistently trying to convince me to rent to her even though I told her I don't rent to anyone under the age of 25, that my cousin in Army intelligence would need to clear her first and that she'd have to meet my caretaker at a local coffee shop with cash.  That only if my caretaker believed she was legit would she then get the keys and address.  The girl finally disappeared.  Immediately the next day another person said they wanted to rent for two months while they waited to close on a new home.  I told her all the screening I'd be doing on her and she disappeared. Then immmediately another woman claiming to need medical attention for both herself and her daughters contacted me. 


                                    It's highly unusual to get more than a weekend rental in the fall and winter where my house is.  This fall it's been constant one week or longer inquiries.  I feel like there is just one big phishing scam going on out there right now. Be on your toes!