The Craigslist Vacation Rental Scam
The Craigslist Vacation Rental Scam - How It Works
The scam advertises a vacation rental property and requires payment in advance (many times in the form of a money wire or a money order). After you make your payment, you show up to find that the address does not exist (or it is a home already occupied). In one town in Vermont, they have had five incidents in recent weeks following this exact story line. See Vermont Vacation Rental Scam.
The key to a scam like this is that the scammer must be very convincing on the phone and legitimately seem like a property owner simply trying to rent out their property. Imagine renting a home for a ski trip in Vermont only to arrive and find that there is not even a home at the address you were given.
How To Protect Yourself
It is unfortunate, but it appears that the only way to ultimately protect yourself is to only contract for a rental with a credit card. This may rule out getting the absolute best deals by dealing directly with property owners. The very best option is to book through a well known, reputable, vacation rental firm with a major credit card. One possible way to deal with a property owner directly would be to require that they accept your payment through Pay Pal. This would give you some avenue of recourse if you have been scammed.
National Vacation Rental Services
Vacation Rentals By Owner (VRBO)
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