Scammers have moved from Craigslist to Facebook. Here's how to avoid them when booking a vacation rental:
🚫 SCAMMER ALERT!! 🚫
Scammers have fake accounts. They often post as white females and have a family picture on their profile. You will never suspect that you are dealing with a Nigerian MAN. Many have very convincing profiles with a long work history and American friends. They join groups by posing as a traveler, and then once they get in, they never make contact or reveal that profile. They use other fake profiles to make contact with you. Then when you report the scammer to an admin, the admin can't remove them, because the profile you reported isn't a member of the group.
Here are some things you can do to make sure you are dealing with a legitimate owner:
💯CONTACT THEM THROUGH THE LINK THEY PROVIDE. (NO LINK, NO DEAL.)
🚫DON’T DEAL IN PRIVATE MESSAGES. This is where 100% of scams happen.
🚫BE EXTREMELY CAUTIOUS W/ PAYPAL.
1. Do they have a website? Does the owner name in the website match? Can they provide you with more than 1 link? Most real owners can! Scammers know that owner's contact info is now blocked on VRBO, and they will send a link oft a legitimate ad and say it's theirs. They offer you a great price and ask you to send money through PayPal. They will take your deposit and then they will block you. Your money is GONE. (It’s in Nigeria usually.) You have paid money but you have NO RESERVATION. (Remember the real owners are victims too. Imagine what happens when people don’t realize they were scammed and actually show up to a property they don’t have a reservation for. They get on google, take 3 minutes to find the real owner which they should have done in the first place, and explode on them/demand entry/refund. The real owner has no responsibility to deal with your loss.)
2. Look at the link they give with a criticizing eye. Look in the reviews for an owner's name. Does it match who is PMing you? ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS contact the person THROUGH THE LINK they provide. If scammers pick up an ad that belongs to someone else, you will hit the real owner when you contact THROUGH THE LINK! This is so easy. DO THIS!!
3. A new strategy is for them NOT to give you a link because renters are catching on to ALWAYS GO THROUGH THE LINK. So they steal pictures from a website and give you a crock of crap about how they don’t have a link. (Pick an excuse why— we just remodeled, the website is having some trouble, etc.). Remember, scammers are full time liars.
4. ALL SCAMS HAPPEN IN PRIVATE MESSAGES. Scammers know they will be called out if they post publicly. Legitimate owners will post a link on your post. Real owners don't need to hide! In PMs, scammers have great deals and say if you book direct you can save!! People get excited because they think they have found that hidden deal everybody wants. The scammer will then ask you to pay by PayPal Friends and Family, because it’s not reversible. That’s like handing them cash. It’s gone. Sorry.
5. Talk to the owner on the PHONE. Ask a lot of questions. Ask detailed questions that owners can answer quickly and firmly. Example: you could ask me how far I am from ANY place—Walmart Publix Target Bass Pro—AND I KNOW IMMEDIATELY. A scammer would need time to google. (Once in a PM I asked a scammer what time zone he was in and for 10 minutes he just kept telling me the time. What owner doesn’t know their time zone? Lol!)
6. Owners tend to be professionals/entrepreneurs. We write complete sentences and use proper punctuation. We use nouns correctly and use correct tense of verbs. If someone is having a hard time with that, red flag. I'm not talking about typos. I’m talking about poor English. Scammers are from Nigeria. Don't be fooled by ANY PICTURE. It's part of the scam. Fake name. Stolen pictures. Fake profile, often with long work history and other things to make you *think* it’s a real profile.
7. As an owner I'd be happy to show you a copy of my power bill at any time. I also have a tax license. Owners have that stuff to show and we are happy to. If someone gets defensive, red flag.
8. Scammers give contracts as part of the scam. This means nothing. They often steal real companies logos to help them look legit.
9. Is the deal too good to be true? Do they allow smoking, and pets, and it’s half price? Probably a scammer. Owners don't give away their condos. At some price we'd rather it sit empty. Yes, you read that right. We carry a lot of risk every time we open the doors. Sometimes it's not worth it for the price.
10. True owners expect you to be "suspicious" of us. We carry the burden of proving who we are. We can easily do it. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS and always HAVE A QUESTIONING ATTITUDE. Real owners will never be offended for questioning.
TALK ON THE PHONE and CONTACT THROUGH THE LINK PROVIDED. BEWARE OF PRIVATE MESSAGES YOU DONT INITIATE. ALL FACEBOOK SCAMS HAPPEN IN PRIVATE MESSAGES.