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Old 01-13-2015, 12:37 PM   #21
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I had similar misgivings on a VRBO rental in Berlin. Turns out a lot of Germans are cash only folks. The rental went well as have all of my VRBO experiences. Sounds like you have enough confirmation to be OK. I get the impression that VRBO has been pretty successful in routing out fraud.
I've found this to be true all over Europe at B&Bs. They probably cheat on their taxes but they also don't have to deal with CC fees.
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Old 01-13-2015, 12:46 PM   #22
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There are plenty of places in FL to rent. I would start looking by contacting a local realtor in the area and deal with them or a property manager. Good luck!
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Old 01-13-2015, 01:09 PM   #23
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One other item to check: do a search on realtor.com for the property address (or do a google image search on a few of the pictures). If it is a sham, the scammer might have simply pulled a few pictures that are in the real estate sales listing from Realtor.com for the exact same property.

Odds are, if someone did have a home/condo listed for sale, they would tell you that up-front on VRBO.com, since someone who has a place rented for a few days surely would not want another real estate agent simply parading through any time they want to. So if a property is listed (or was recently listed) on realtor.com, it could be a big red flag.

Or - even more obvious - if the images on VRBO.com were from a different address/property listed for sale, it's an obvious red flag (unless the property owner is a real estate mogul and has soooo many properties that they mixed it up the pictures. Unlikely, but a slim chance
Here's a report on recent scam in Vancouver where they used these methods:

Craigslist luxury rental scam leaves Vancouver tenants on the sidewalk - British Columbia - CBC News

Due diligence is key. However, at this point your inquiries suggest that it is probably legitimate. If you have any anxiety about it, better stay away. A vacation, not anxiety, is what you are looking for.
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Old 01-13-2015, 01:09 PM   #24
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There are plenty of places in FL to rent. I would start looking by contacting a local realtor in the area and deal with them or a property manager. Good luck!
I know. I wanted to just go down there, take a hotel room for a couple days and then find a place to rent for the month so I could see what I was getting, but DW is a nervous nellie and insists on having a rental lined up before we go down there.
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Old 01-13-2015, 01:16 PM   #25
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I have no idea if this rental is a good deal or a scam. But, I do know that renting out property one does not own is a scam and has blossomed using online services.

The advantage of places like Airbnb is that payment to the property owner is not made until the renter has been there 24 hours and not complained. I guess that is not being offered to you. Right?]
I've use Airbnb twice now and have had to pay in advance to hold the booking. How does the 24 hour thing work?
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Old 01-13-2015, 11:14 PM   #26
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I've use Airbnb twice now and have had to pay in advance to hold the booking. How does the 24 hour thing work?

You pay in advance. Airbnb does not release the money to the property owner for 24 hour after the arrival date. That's what I am told.

Presumably Aibnb makes something on the float.
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Old 01-14-2015, 12:58 AM   #27
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Here is another thread about AirBnB that has some good info including VBRO stuff:

Airbnb


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Old 01-14-2015, 06:36 AM   #28
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Here's a report on recent scam in Vancouver where they used these methods:

Craigslist luxury rental scam leaves Vancouver tenants on the sidewalk - British Columbia - CBC News

Due diligence is key. However, at this point your inquiries suggest that it is probably legitimate. If you have any anxiety about it, better stay away. A vacation, not anxiety, is what you are looking for.
anyone using craigslist to find a rental is asking to be scammed. Our Atlanta rental is featured on Craigslist in some scammers ad. Craigslist has done nothing to remove it. I used to post periodically on craigslist a scam alert but I no longer bother. If you have a rental and you advertise on line, you might want to google or bing a picture from your online advertisement just to see where your pic is online. That is how I found out about the craigslist scam ad.
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Old 01-14-2015, 06:59 AM   #29
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We have three vacations homes that we rent as owner entirely through VRBO and Homeaway. It is my wife's part-time job. We have enjoyed meeting people from around the world and have had more than 300 guests. The other side of the transaction has its issues also. Fake renters from eastern Europe and China try to scam us through the website by obtaining information concerning our accounts. We also need to be careful not to provide an address until we receive a deposit and to verify the trustworthiness of our guests. Thieves have robbed VRBO homes knowing the owner is not present based upon the availability calendar on the website. Remember we are entrusting a valuable vacation home to a person we have never met. Just wanted you to realize there is another side to this issue.

I feel the best way to protect yourself is to read the reviews. You can ask the homeowner for the e-mail address of a prior guest and converse with that person. I guess that could be a scam as well because that person could be a friend of the scammer.

The troubling issue here is that the owner is from South America. Would you feel any better if the owner was from Washington State? The fact of the matter is that the deposit is too small an amount to sue upon or for the local authorities to investigate.

If something does not smell right to you then pass.

I do note however, that we have had guests from all over the world who send us deposits and things have worked smoothly. The one surprise to me is that the person does not take credit cards. WE ONLY ACCEPT CREDIT CARDS AND DO NOT ACCEPT CHECKS. If the check is from a foreign country we always have the issue of currency conversion which the banks charge for and a long delay for the check to clear. As a result we only accept credit cards for payment and nothing else. It is worth it for us to pay the 2.5% fee. I am sure there are other rentals for you to choose from. However, at the end of the day the system works on integrity and wherever the owner is you must trust that he owns the location and has the right to rent it.

Lastly, the owner pays $698.00/year to post on VRBO and Homeaway. For many scammers (but not all) that is too large an entry fee.

Good Luck to you.
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Old 01-14-2015, 07:13 AM   #30
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He initially wanted me to transfer funds into his US BofA account and provided me with a routing number and account number. I asked if he had a PayPal account and he did so I paid him via PayPal and put it on my Discover card so if it turns out to be a scam (and I have no reason now to believe it is), I can turn to Discover's fraud protection (dispute the charge) and PayPal's protections as well.
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Old 01-14-2015, 08:51 AM   #31
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Great. Let us know how it turned out.
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Old 01-14-2015, 03:10 PM   #32
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Holy bleep! I'ld say you covered all the bases.

FWIW I rented out the lake house via: Homeaway, VRBO, Airbnb, Flipkey and 1/2 dozen sister sites to Homeaway. I just had a group from Columbia leave. Others have come from Australia, UK, Canada, and most every state in the US.

REVIEWS are everything in this business. If someone was scammed in the past VRBO would have PULLED the listing. Very unlikely you'll be the first to get "scammed". That said, my Homeaway account WAS scammed. Someone was hijacking the leads at the same time I saw them and offered a rock bottom price (but only if you pay now! now! now!). Fortunately I get a txt when an inquiry comes in so I was responding very close to the time the scammer was responding. Homeaway security team fixed it.

As others have said you can buy insurance from VRBO to insure it is not a scam. This used to be free ... but they figured out it's another $$ machine to charge for it.

Frankly it sounds like you'll just be nervous about it until you turn the key. Good luck!
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Old 02-02-2015, 03:28 PM   #33
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I'm just about to make a deposit on a VRBO rental my wife found.

The owner lives in South America and owns a condo in Florida that we plan to rent for February.

I have some nagging doubts as to whether it is a sham, though nothing points to it.

We have communicated with the owner via email (and once by phone) numerous times over the past week. The condo association has a website and the telephone number works (voicemail only, have yet to actually talk to someone). The owner gave me the cellphone number of the person currently renting the property and I called it, left a voicemail and he called me back promptly.

The owner is not set up to take a credit card for our deposit and wanted a bank transfer. I asked if he could do Paypal and he can.

What do you think? Is there any other diligence that I should do?

I can pay the deposit via PayPal and charge it to my credit card, but may incur some foreign transaction fees, but if putting it on my credit card offers me any additional protection if it is a sham I would gladly pay the additional fees.

Am I overthinking this? We haven't ever done anything like this before.
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....I was able to finally get through to the condo association by phone and they verified that they had an owner with that name but would not verify the unit. They do allow rentals over 29 days and there is a fairly elaborate process with forms we have filled out to be approved to rent (including one form that needs to be notarized), along with a $75 processing fee .... the owner disclosed all this and I verified with the condo association when I talked to them.

I was also able to get on the county real estate tax website and verify that the unit cited in the contract is owned by the name of the person that I have been dealing with and the city where he lives on the tax bill is the same as where he has told us he lives. Good idea BTW.... thanks.

I also googled his name and found he has a Linked in profile and he reviewed a phone on Amazon. I clicked on his name, city/country and picture are in a profile and the picture is different from his Linked In picture but is the same guy.

At this point I am comfortable enough to make the deposit but I'll still call my credit card company first to see what protections they offer and what the fees will be.

And thanks to all who responded.
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I also just got of the phone with my credit card company. If I pay via PayPal charged to my credit card then I can dispute the charge and am covered by their "frog" protection.

Better yet, they have no foreign transaction fees (where VISA does have a 3% fee).

So I'm proceeding and thinking that between VRBO, PayPal and Discover that if it is a scam that I'll still come out ok.
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He initially wanted me to transfer funds into his US BofA account and provided me with a routing number and account number. I asked if he had a PayPal account and he did so I paid him via PayPal and put it on my Discover card so if it turns out to be a scam (and I have no reason now to believe it is), I can turn to Discover's fraud protection (dispute the charge) and PayPal's protections as well.
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Great. Let us know how it turned out.
Everything turned out fine... we are comfortably situated in the condo and enjoying the nice weather.
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Old 02-02-2015, 03:34 PM   #34
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Glad to hear it. Florida and nice weather!! We'll all be over in a while for the BBQ. Make up the guest rooms, ASAP.
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Old 02-02-2015, 03:36 PM   #35
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Glad to hear it. Florida and nice weather!! We'll all be over in a while for the BBQ. Make up the guest rooms, ASAP.
Count me in! Got to get away from this awful thing called winter.
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