How to Spot a SCAM Rental

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Beware, so many Scams are popping up. Don’t be fooled.

How to avoid fake adds:

Scammers steal text and pictures from real estate and vacation rental websites (VRBO, Zillow, TripAdviser…).
They want to catch everybody, so “their” properties are always available and match most of the time all traveler needs.

To start with, it’s not an easy task to find a place where dogs are allowed, especially in million-dollar homes. Would you do it? I guess not, so if you find a stunning property where even CATS AND DOGS are o.k., it’s 99.9% a scam. It is very rare that a homeowner allows dogs AND cats. Also, it might be difficult to find a wheelchair-accessible home. So a scammer is interested in posting as wheelchair accessible. But wheelchair accessibility means more than a step-free front door. If this is an important feature, additional information would be given in the post. Scammers even sell boats as wheelchair accessible.

The newest feature on CL is EV charging. Who has a EV charging station at home? It’s ridiculous. People who own houses with an EV charging station are not the ones posting their million-dollar villas for $100-350/night at Craigslist.

The given address of the property is no proof of anything (They just stole the information from Zillow, some pictures even have the watermark for real estate listings SWFLAMLS). The address is another way to lure you in, because you are – of course – looking up the location and are getting exited, because the location is top of the line. To get you involved with the add is the first step for the scammer to get your money. It’s like a car sale … if they get you in the car for a test drive, the more likely you are buying the car.

Do not fall for the beautifully written descriptions. If somebody is praising a new roof, a new AC, or even crown molding, you know instantly that the text was stolen from a “For Sale” website. A brand new stainless steel fridge is of not important for you as a renter. You are not buying the place. Copy and paste two sentences into your browser window with “……” at the beginning and end of your copied text. Start your search. The original posting will pop up. Picture search works too. If you cannot find the text or pictures online …. count this as a good sign, but still, be careful. (Scammers learn too).

Same with the stunning interior and exterior. What sells a home? Of course, every homeowner would always pick an attractive picture as the one to be displayed first in the add. If the first picture is a bathroom or the bedroom and the million-dollar view – which is the main feature of the property – is kind of hidden, do not even bother to look closer. Which serious homeowner would do that kind of thing? If you have a million-dollar view it will be the first you advertise.

When you see VERY EXPENSIVE furniture, glamorous kitchens you could serve the whole neighborhood, bathrooms to die for, and a VIEW/POOL …. a dream come true…..for just a couple of hundred dollars a night …The scam is obvious. Don’t fall for it. If it is too good to be true … it’s not true.

Compare add and pictures. Es there anything which does not fit together? Is an apartment posted as a house or vice versa? Does the add says “Sorry no pets” but the rental is listed as pet friendly ….. very common mistakes Scammers do. They just copy and paste a “box of text” over and over without paying attention to detail.

They also like to sell you Gulf view apartment for $2000/month or less. This are the most desirable places. Everybody dreams of a beach location with a water view. Be realistic, to find an opening this time of year is like looking for a needle in the hay stack. And you will NOT FIND IT for $2000/month or even $800. Stop dreaming.

How to find honest postings:

Look for REAL INFORMATION in the text.

1) Are available times mentioned? No rental is ALWAYS available.

2) Are prices mentioned in the TEXT? Not all months are the same. High season/low season.
Just a single price (Rent: $250) without any more explanation (availability/fees ect.) is a sign for a NOT trustworthy posting. Keep looking.

When you contact….

1) Proceed carefully. Ask questions.

2) Visit the property or have a friend in the area do a visit. If you cannot visit, ask for a Facetime, Skype, or another live walk-through.

3) Warning sign. If anybody wants to p r e s s u r e you for i m m e d i a t e up-front money.

3) MOST IMPORTANT: Don’t do any money transfers. Don’t pay with eBay or I tunes or other weird ways ….

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