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Avoid a vacation property rental scam

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Ready to start booking your next vacation? Maybe you’re thinking about renting a house or condo. These days it’s easy to connect directly with property owners who advertise their vacation homes online, and you’ve probably heard wonderful stories from people who rent vacation properties. We have, too. But we’ve also heard from people who’ve fallen for vacation rental scams.

Just this year, the FTC received thousands of complaints related to rental scams. Some complaints are from people who wired money to lease a vacation property, and then learned that the person they were dealing with was not the actual owner. Other complaints are from renters who were asked to pay upfront using PayPal, only to find out later that PayPal doesn’t offer the same protections for services and intangible goods — like real estate rentals — as for physical items. In both scenarios, the people wanting to rent a vacation property lost money. Here are some tips to help you avoid this scheme:

  • Wiring money is the same as sending cash. If you wire money to a person you’ve never met, you have no way to trace it or get it back. If a property owner asks you to pay in full upfront and requires payment via MoneyGram, Western Union or Green Dot cards, it could be a scam.
  • Don’t be rushed into a decision. If you receive an email pressuring you to make a decision on the spot for a rental, ignore it and move on.
  • The lower the price for a premium vacation property, the more likely it’s a scam. Rip-off artists love to attract people’s interest by offering below-market rent.
  • Get a copy of the contract before you send any deposit money. Check that the address of the property really exists. If the property is located in a resort, call the front desk and confirm the location of the property and other details on the contract.

If you responded to an ad for a vacation rental property and believe that you were scammed, report it at You also can contact the fraud department of the website where you found the ad. You may not get your money back, but you can help others by getting the ad removed.

Blog Topics: 
Homes & Mortgages


Has anyone rented a timeshare through WOW condo rentals?

I have been searching Craigslist for condos on Panama Beach. This one person in particular has many properties listed. His name is Gary Bowman. Only accepts Western Union or Moneygram! Has anyone heard of him??

Did you end up renting from Gary Bowman? I just got an e-mail from him in regards to an inquiry that I also found on craigslist for a rental in Panama City Beach. I have not sent any funds cuz just like you I was worried about a scam so I went looking for information and found this.

I am getting ready to rent a house in Folly Beach from Craigslist. Now I am afraid to do it because 2 adds had scam on them, not the one I was looking at, now what do I do to check that its all okay to rent.
I am waiting for a contract to continue.

I was taken by a scam and the property was listed through VRBO. I contacted them and took the property listing down. A few weeks later the same property was listed on another (reputable) site. The house was the same with the same pictures but the name of the villa had changed. I contacted that agency and the house was removed but no contact was made.
We had rented another property with VRBO and were very happy with the results. Too bad people like this need to spoil a vacation.

Has anyone heard of theperfectrentals ? This company stole information from another website with whom I advertise, and they have listed my two houses as their listings without my permission or knowledge. They list available dates that I have already rented and list prices that are very low. What can I do to remove these listings off this horrible website?

Future vacations started in 2002 ,since the advent of the concept of holiday time-shares, many companies have sprung up offering various kinds of packages to consumers. But few companies understand the specifications and expectations of the traveling public

I own a beach house and potential guests wouldn't use VRBO/credit card the normal way, but sent me a check. Check ended up being over twice the amount due and the person kept emailing me to deposit and write him back a check. He blamed the "error" on his travel agent. After doing research, it is a typical scam. I have contacted the religious organization on which the check was written. I'm quite sure it is a counterfeit or stolen check. This stunk to high heavens and I never considered cashing the check, but want everyone out there to realize this happens to owners as well. The address of the travel agent where he wanted me to send the money was an empty lot. I doubt the government is interested in pursuing this so it makes me feel better having the ability to post what happened. Thanks.

I was just scammed by a newer, pretty elaborate scam from a place calling themselves Gilded Rose Royal Program. They were claiming to buy my previous vacation property, through an organization called Livingston Property services, which had costs involved to transfer, but now they sent a falsified Bank of America wire transfer to try to get me to pay an additional $2,200.00

While in Mexico I purchased into the Guilded Rose program also. They agreed to take a Westgate timeshare but I still am the proud owner and it's been 7 months. Does anyone know about this company or as MG spoke of, LivingstonProperty services? I would be grateful for any info ya all have. Thanks so much!

It is a scam.....

Same story here as MG. While we were vacation in Mexico, in March 2017, we purchased GIlded Rose Royal Program. We’ve traded in our time share property to Living Stone at same time, it was all bundled up together. Now we know it was a scam. It was a very expensive lesson! Mexican government doesn’t care about this scam. We will never go back to the Mexico again. Save your dollars!

Anyone try to rent from mark Thunderwolf or temporaryhomes @ usa. com he wants bank transfers and rental agreement looks made up..Oregon Coast please give thoughts

Definitely a scam...

Mark Thunderwolf is definitely a scam...

Thanks for the tips. Anyone have any experience with ExecutiveVillaRentals or Andy Booth in the DisneyWorld area? I Don’t want to be scammed either and be left with no place to stay and out of pocket with my extended family on a reunion this Christmas. Thanks in advance.

In March of 2017...we stayed in a,Condo in Legacy Dunes...operated by godisneyvacation..we arrived at the was filthy...with cockroaches...horrible odor...we had to leave the patio door open most of the time because of the smell...we tried to contact the owners phone and by text messaging...they never responded ...until the,day we left...and we tried numerous times...They have been very us...we took pictures and sent them to the owners...They said our claim was fabricated...We would never rent from Scott or Anthony...It was a terrible vacation.

Anyone heard of Hope LLC vacation renters? Is it a real company that you can work for by posting vacation rentals online?

Do NOT book with Davenport Vacation rentals. We delt with sue and it was the worst vacation ever. We drove 1500 miles to Florida and an hour before arrival, sue messaged us and said that the home we booked was not available. We asked where we could go to stay and she said WE would have to figure that out ourselves. We're still trying to get our 1900 dollars back.

It irks me when scams like this happen. I'm thankful this rarely happens here in Plano, people here are quite observant as well regarding these events. If events like this happen if I were to run a real estate business, I'll try to contact a professional like you if it involves wired money.


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