How it works:
- Situation: not a scam that is unique to Hungary as this happens all over the world as it is so easy and so lucrative to execute.
- Set-up 1: fraudulent apartment listings are placed online, and payment is demanded via Western Union/MoneyGram. Once payment is made, scammer disappears.
- Set up 2: scammer books an apartment then rents it out to several other tenants. He can do the same thing without booking it if he manages to secure tenants without having to show you the apartment in person.
- Set-up: apartment/hotel not matching up to what was described in a listing/advertisement. However, note that this can be subjective and is not specific to Hungary.
Places to beware:
What to do:
- 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.