Craigslist Scam

 

Craigslist$1000 / 5br – 4200ft – 5bd House Vacation Rental (Indio)

© craigslist – Map data © OpenStreetMap

Madison at 49

5BR / 4Ba 4200ft2 house available now
laundry on site attached garage
wheelchair accessible
cats are OK – purrr dogs are OK – wooof

My house has been rented by a scam artist as a vacation rental for BNP Paribus, Stagecoach, and Coachella. People who were duped out of more than $1,000 have been showing up at my door to move in for the week. They are sad to find out they were ripped off and now the group of 10 don’t have anywhere else to stay for the week. PLEASE WATCH OUT FOR THIS SCAM!

The police can’t do anything (so they say) and neither can Craigslist (so they say). The only thing we can do is daily go on Craigslist and flag for deletion all of the ads for our house. We can’t keep up. It is often listed 3 or 4 times per day.

Don’t ever WIRE someone money whom you haven’t talked to personally. Authorities told us it is most likely a cyber-crime committed outside of the U.S. and therefore unavoidable! Please don’t rent a house on Carefree Drive in Indio unless you check to see if it is also listed on VRBO.com. Then call the owner and talk.

  • do NOT contact me with unsolicited services or offers

post id: 4943054642

posted: 7 days ago

email to friend

♥ best of [?]

Please flag discriminatory housing ads Avoid scams, deal locally! DO NOT wire funds (e.g. Western Union), or buy/rent sight unseen

 

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The above was posted on Facebook this past week and I thought it would be a good topic for today’s blog post.  Unfortunately we see this, and similar scams, all the time.  Vacation Rentals of the Desert is a member of the Vacation Rental Manager’s Association who keep us informed of the various methods used to scam both renters AND property owners.  These scams do a lot to hurt the professional vacation rental industry too.  It is sad.  One bad apple … as the saying goes.

I received an email from a business associate, Kelly, a few days after reading the above post on Facebook.  Apparently she personally knew the homeowner and was reaching out to me for advice.  Since the homeowner had already contacted both Craigslist and the police, my only concern was for her safety and peace of mind.  Looking at a bigger picture, as I am always apt to do, I recommended that she look into a security system and post a big note on the front door stating that the house has been involved in a scam and it is not a vacation rental; to contact the person who collected your money and do not disturb the owners occupying the property.

Picture this scenario … the vacation renters arrive at the front door only to find that there is no key under the mat or lock box on the front door … or wherever the “so-called owner” said the keys would be.  They ring the doorbell but there is no answer.  The guests, thinking they had paid for the property, take it upon themselves to call a locksmith or break a window to gain access … “after all, we paid for it.”   If the property owner cannot be at the house 24/7 … this is a very real possibility.  OR … a party of ten shows up at the house about 1:00 a.m. after the first day of Coachella Fest … ten people who have been partying hard all day long, wake you from a dead-sleep in the middle of the night!  Ugly.

This is not a happy situation for either the property owner or the renter, and it puts a black mark on vacation rentals as a whole.

If you are a vacation “renter” reading this post …. Please, please, please do not search for vacation rentals on Craigslist.  It is a very easy site for scammers to use … there is no accountability for either those who post or those who inquire.  This is why you will typically not find professional vacation rental companies on this site.  Red flags you should look for … wiring funds, lack of pictures, no live person to speak to, no reviews, and no protections offered by the posting site.  Craigslist is a free listing service.  Property owners pay to list their vacation home on VRBO, FlipKey and many other “by owner” sites.  Some of these sites will offer protection in the form of insurance.  This does not mean there are not scammers on these sites as well.  Always steer clear of wiring funds, always speak directly to the owner and always get the exact property address.  That being said … I really must encourage you to go through a professional company.  I am not being biased here!  Many scammers have charisma, they are very convincing salesmen and sound like someone you can trust … that’s what makes them successful scammers.  Some property listings do not have reviews because they are too new, or the property owner does not choose the site’s option to collect reviews.  And reviews are not always reliable.  I can go on VRBO and most “by owner” sites and give a great review to a property that I have not even seen, much less rented.  So reviews can be completely made up.  If you look up city records for the name of the property owner, the property may “legally” be in another name.  Many vacation homes have multiple owners, or property managers, or are in trusts or LLCs.  Since it’s “public record,” a good scammer will have looked up this information as well and have a prepared story.  References … scammer have friends who are scammers … they’d gladly put you in touch with a “renter” who would vouch for “their” property.  If you want peace of mind … go with a professional vacation management company.

On June 8, 2014 in my blog post titled “Girlfriend Retreat,” I shared the story of how I was appointed the official “property procurer” for a girl’s weekend.  Being in the vacation rental business, my friends figured that for me, it’d a no-brainer.  I started poking around the internet and quickly realized that there was no way in the world that I was going to rent through a “by owner” site.  Too risky.  Because I am in the profession I would have never even thought about going directly to a stranger … but I now found myself on the other side of that computer screen and the other side of that phone call.  How would I feel if we were scammed and not only I, but my friends lost their vacation money and found ourselves without a place to stay!   Before I got too far in my search I got lucky.  I work with a property owner who also had a home in Lake Arrowhead, exactly where we wanted to stay.  But just the thought of picking up the phone and trusting someone I did not know and knowing the number of scams out there … well I’m just not as trusting as I once was.

So finally I want to say … there are a lot of bad people out there.  I hope your property is never involved in a scam like the owner above.  Odds are in your favor that it won’t be.  If you are a renter I have only one thing to say … just go to a professional please.  Contact me!  I’d love to rent you a home in the desert … or go to discovervacationhomes.com (operated by the Vacation Rental Managers Association).  They have a list of reputable vacation rental companies on their website. You may pay just a little more for a professionally managed property… or maybe not, but I guarantee you’ll sleep better knowing that you and your vacation, are in trusted hands!

 

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