This story from WJHG warns vacationers to be aware of scammers when booking vacation rentals over the internet:
A growing number of people are being victimized by scam artists, impersonating legitimate rental property owners, so they can steal from unsuspecting vacationers.
“This thing is just a real monster to try to deal with,” said â€œMikeâ€. That’s not his real name, but the Panama City Beach property owner is afraid of retaliation for talking about scammers working the local vacation rental market.
“Mike” says the scams have severely affected his business.
“We have probably lost close to $10,000 in income because of cancellations. Because people calling to rent our facilities are scared to death of the scams.”
Unsuspecting vacationers are finding the bogus rental ads on the internet, sometimes on legitimate sites. They wire their money to the person claiming to be the property owner or rental agent. But when they show up for vacation, they discover the property is already rented, and they’ve been had.
“We had one woman call us 2 or 3 weeks ago that had sent over $2,000 out to a website, thinking they were booking property here. Only to find out it was a scam.”
The culprits are even stealing pictures of rental properties off legitimate websites, and creating a fake reservations site.
“She lost her money before she ever booked with us. She thought she was booking with us but she was booking with a scam artist.”
Authorities say never wire money for vacation rental reservations, use a credit card instead. If the agent requests a money order, that’s also a warning sign.
The Resort Collection urges all our visitors to please be aware of this problem and, if you have any questions about your reservation or encounter any problems, do not hesitate to call us at 866.203.1164.
You can find the original article HERE.