Online advertising leaves vacation rental owners open to a variety of scams, from phishing (where someone tries to steal your online identity) to scam artists sending fraudulent inquiries.
But have you heard about schemes where scammers use copy-and-paste and a Craigslist ad to pretend to be you – or at least, someone who owns your home?
How it works
To be fair, these scams aren’t new, aren’t limited to the Internet, and aren’t exclusive to Craigslist. However, websites like Craigslist make these traps easy to set up and more accessible to potential vacation renters.
The warning signs are the same for these scams as any others that seem too good to be true:
- Interested renters are asked to wire money through a service like MoneyGram or Western Union – a type of transaction we recommend both renters and owners avoid.
- “[Scammers] pressure you to act fast, warning that others are interested and you’ll lose out if you don’t decide quickly,” a special agent with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center explained to the Washington Post.
- Ads usually include poor grammar and punctuation, or other discrepancies.
Craigslist itself offers a good reference page you should review for additional examples and warning signs.
What can you do as a homeowner?
Not much, unfortunately: Many owners find out by accident that someone else is marketing their property, when someone calls them or their property manager inquiring about their reservation – or looking for the keys.