How it works:
- Version 1: there have been scammers who hack property listings, lower the listed price and get victims to pay them off the platform.
- Version 2: there are also “agents” who advertise listings when they have no authority to and disappear after collecting a deposit.
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).
- Spot red flags: prices too good to be true, illogical descriptions from copying pasting, dodgy reviews, difference in photos and Google Street View, payment off platform, owner claims to be overseas/uses poor English.
- Due diligence: search online reviews and if apartment has listings across other platforms, check if they are consistent, grill the owner by asking about specific details, made-up details to test if he can call your bluff, or test him by requesting for a visit by a local friend.
- Payment: do not pay in full upfront and off the platform.