How it works:
- Version 1: fake websites with stolen property listings requesting for payment via bank transfer.
- Version 2: fake listing on legitimate sites.
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: cheap price, illogical sounding descriptions, dodgy reviews, difference in photos and Google Street View, payment off platform, owner claims to be overseas, etc.
- 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.