The Holiday Home and Villa Rental Website Scam
With many holiday makers looking to book that last minute winter break or searching for bargain summer sizzlers, we wanted to keep you up to date with some of the most popular holiday scams of 2014 and give you advice on how to minimise your risks.
Third party holiday home advertising websites which allow holiday home owners to advertise their property for a fee are being targeted by fraudsters. By using these sites the owner is able to be contacted directly to arrange holiday rental agreements, allowing both buyer and seller to make the transaction in confidence.
Fraudsters have recently found a number of ways to exploit this method of accommodation booking to fraudulently take customer information and payments for bookings, leaving the customer with an empty wallet and no holiday booked – with many customers not realising until they arrive with their suit-cases at the apartment or villa.
How are they doing it: Some fraudsters are listing and taking bookings for properties which do not exist or belong to them, cloning popular websites to look like the legitimate seller (always check the URL in your browser) other fraudsters are using sophisticated methods to gain control of the sellers email account.
To take control of the sellers email account fraudsters send email enquiries to the seller to arrange a booking for the accommodation. The Fraudster attaches a link to the website, making it seem as if the seller is logging in to the legitimate website. Instead they are passing their details to a site the fraudster has created, once the fraudster has this information they are able to start monitoring any inquiries the seller has. The fraudster can then respond to any enquires the seller has for their accommodation, eventually taking payment without the seller knowing or the purchaser being aware they are a victim of fraud.
Tips to minimise the risks of online fraud:
- Communicate with the accommodation renter by both email and phone
- Pay via an insured method – many credit cards come with insurance
- Avoid making payments by untraceable methods such as cheques or direct bank transfer
- It can be easy for scammers to set up replica websites, if giving your details to a website ensure it is the legitimate site; look for things out of the ordinary!
- If you feel anything is suspicious do not make a payment and pass the relevant information to the website owner
- Sellers need to be cautious to email enquiries which seem unusual or suspicious such as making enquire without a date range, asking unusual questions and sending links or attachments.
Date Created: 01 December 2014 by Kim Coppins