How it works:
- Situation: there have been reports of scammers hacking into legitimate listings on genuine vacation rental websites and changing vital information such as contact details to their own.
- 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:
- Platform: use 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.
- Payment: do not pay in full upfront and off the platform.