How it works:
- Version 1:
- Opening: it is alleged that two English speaking women in Luxor perpetrate this scam, where they target tourists at tourist attractions/cafes with attractive offers for villas and apartments.
- Set-up: false papers will be provided and there is no way you will be able to seek legal recourse if you fall for it.
- Version 2:
- Opening: fake vacation apartment listings on legitimate sites as well as fake sites.
- Red flags: cheap prices, copy-pasted description, dodgy sounding reviews, difference in photos and Google Street View pictures, payment off platform (bank transfer, Western Union, MoneyGram – these are irreversible), overseas owner, details not forthcoming.
Places to beware:
What to do:
- Real estate investments: if an offer is too good to be true, it is. Only engage legitimate, reputable attorneys and agents.
- Platform: use one with buyer protection rights: e.g. Booking.com (Frommer’s tests found it to have the best selection and rates).
- Due diligence: search online reviews and if apartment has listings across other platforms, check if they are consistent. Grill the owner by asking specific details or made-up details to test if he can call your bluff. Test him by requesting a visit by a local friend.
- Do not: pay in full upfront and off the platform.