Fraud Reports Fraud Tips and Alerts!!

Like most industries, vacation rentals are not exempt from scammers. They will use stolen credit cards to list properties that may not even exist. This practice is rare, but occurs with more frequency in cities like New York, Miami, etc. Below are some tips and suggestions on how to avoid becoming the victim of a scammer. For all of these suggestions, if the property owner offers up any hesitation or tries to communicate via email only, or just gives you a bad vibe, step away from the transaction. There are thousands and thousands of vacation rentals, move on to a respected vacation rental owner that fully answers all of your questions and is more than willing to offer up proof that they are the legitimate owners of the property.
  1. Does the property owner have a website? Most scammers won't take the time to create a website. Additionally creating a website leaves a trail that law enforcement can track to prosecute the scammer. Just because a property owner does not have a website does not make them a scammer, but it should raise a flag to proceed with caution.
  2. When possible, pay with a credit card. Your credit card company will provide you protection in the event of fraud.
  3. Most smaller vacation rental owners do not accept credit cards as a form of payment. In that case most will accept a personal check. However, most scammers will only take cashiers checks. This should be a red flag. If a property owner requires a cashier check, take additional steps to assure the owner and rental are legitimate.



Posted on Tuesday, November 01, 2011 - 09:24

I received an email recently from a vacation rental owner who had all of his inquiries from HomeAway and VRBO sent to his gmail account.

This is what the property owner wrote:

"I had a call from a guest this morning who hadn't had a response to a Homeaway enquiry from last week, on investigation it appeared the e-mail was in my gmail Trash. On investigation I found 5 filters set up in my gmail settings directing all inquiries from Homeaway, VRBO, FlipKey, VacationRentalsDirect and Ownerdirect all to my Trash bin and somehow forwarding these e-mails to who then responded to my guests enquiry requesting bank account details etc to progress bookings. "

Great article in the NY Times on rental frauds / scams


Posted on Sunday, August 15, 2010 - 20:25

Hi I am in Calgary Alberta Canada and just allowed myself to be scammed, as did another gentleman in Ontario Canada. Both were by the same persons 'vacation3335' this was for a New York apt. the money goes to Virginia to a lady who has also been duped and gave me all the info she had. The money then goes to Mumbai India. I am a 30 year realtor and teach financial literacy classes. GULP I did know better. The ontario police have been alerted as have the Richmond Virginia Police, the new york police and shortly the Calgary police. Craigs list has also been notified. Now to find a place in Manahattan in my price range for Fri aug 13 leaving Tues Aug 17. I am afraid that what you have is a little out of my budget, but thank you for your web site.

See how they pretend to be official? It's all a scam!

Posted on Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - 09:29

Subject: Re: Rental Inquiry
To: xxxxxx
Date: Saturday, June 26, 2010, 2:50 AM


We do accept you pay to the Bank as this has less charges .The Airport pickup service is included in the rates both utilities and tax and the towels are change daily ,the apartment include all access to the fully furnished all the 4 master bedrooms have each bathrooms and the rooms separated with walls with separate entering doors .The total rates for 6 nights is $1800. The deposit to be paid now is $2100 and the balance $300 (security deposit) to be refunded at check out date after the inspection of the apartment for any damage . You are entitled to a full refund upon cancellation though . I have attached the booking forms.You would have to fill them out and pay the deposit to Bank Account. You would have to return to me along with the scanned attached receipt given to you at the Bank as confirmation of deposit paid and the booking forms via EMAIL or FAX. 206-376-1926.
For the free pick up service, if interested in the services , you would have to fill out the space in the forms {when you are sure of your travel details}, this involves picking you up and also taking you back to the airport, you should fill out the number of party in each ok.Renting the apartment allows you use of the parking space { garage} free for 1 car. check in is done at the front desk upon presentation of the original receipt of payments. and keys handed over then. Please state were we would have to send your receipt from us to ok. do let us know when to expect the deposit , as the deposit has to be paid ASAP since we do have someone looking to hold dates affecting yours . am not working from the office so you would have to send me an email to let us know if you holding dates so we can have the Bank details send to you.

Example of an real email from a fraudster

Posted on Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - 09:27

Subject: Re: Rental Inquiry
To: xxxxxx
Date: Friday, June 25, 2010, 4:03 PM

Thanks for your interest in our property, the cross street is 5th and 6th Avenue and the apartment has a pullout sofa ,your dates happens to fall within our special discount period and comes available at a daily rates of $300 per night which does include all utilities and tax. The total rates for 6 nights would be $1800, deposit is needed to hold dates though . We do have proposals coming for dates affecting yours so you would have to respond ASAP. The apartment is located at 1600 Broadway NY 10036, This is a doorman building which has got an elevator, and the building is wheelchair accessible and also has direct entrance to the terrace. The apartment is on the 10th floor, with a great view of Times Square from the living room and all the 4master bedrooms, with 4bathrooms which can sleep a maximum of eight. You are fully self sufficient here and the apartment comes with a full kitchen, daily cleaning services. we offer free parking , airport shuttle to pick you from the Airport ad also take you back , though this is subject to confirmation on your arrival dates from us, your travel details has to be filled on the forms for us to log you in. let us know via email if you are ready to hold those dates so we can have the booking forms sent to you.

watch out for this new york vacation rental fraud

Posted on Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - 09:25

Subject: Re: Rental Inquiry
To: xxxxx
Date: Saturday, June 26, 2010, 3:38 AM

We do accept you pay to the Bank as explained , you have to go the bank to make to make the payment or you can instruct your Bank to make the transfer . Find the Bank details below
ACCOUNT NAME: ken Madrigales
ACCOUNT Number: 820027340
ROUTING Number: 122100024
Bank Address:2099 Broadway, New York 10019
phone number :2129139460


Alex Scott - - Fraud

Posted on Monday, April 12, 2010 - 09:24

Name: Alex scott

Start Date: 05-30-2010
End Date: 06-05-2010
Number of Adults: 2
Number of Children: 0

Comments: Hello, I am alex scott from UK,I will be coming over to USA on holiday from the 30th May to the 5th of June 2010 for Vacation with my wife linda.Could you please send me a more detailed description of your accommodation and What's the cost of rental per week or per night?An early reply will be appreciated. Please acknowledge if you can offer this accommodation service so we can conclude on all other arrangements ASAP, Best Regards Alex - Fraud - George Osawa

Posted on Wednesday, February 17, 2010 - 20:07

My name is Rev.George Osawa and I would like to make reservation as follows .

Date of arrival : 25th of March. 2010
arrival time : 7.00 PM
Date of departure : 4th of April. 2010
departure time : 12.00 noon
Room type : 2 double bed rooms
number people : 4 person .
purpose of traveling : Annual vacation .

This is our foundation's first visit to your country, please do send us all necessary required information and cost details .


Rev. George Osawa

More Don Looker Fraud

Posted on Friday, January 22, 2010 - 08:26

Got this nice email from someone who was helped by the fraud blog!

Thanks to your website I found that this person was a scammer.

I send you the mail I received today. I am a hotel in Brittany.
Best regards.

De : Don Looker []
Envoyé : dimanche 14 février 2010 16:11
À :
Objet : [?? Probable Spam] reservation inquiry.

Hello Dear,

I will like to make a reservation in your facility for accomodation, car rental/tour guide for my family. We shall be touring round your country, we are coming to your country for our Family vacation.

Arrival date: 14th April 2010
Departure date : 4th May 2010
Number of days: 21 days
Number of Guest: 5

Confirm availability and get back to me with your rates and total cost for the 21 days of our stay, so that we can make full payment through a Cashier check from our sponsoring company of this vacation trip. If possible 5 single rooms or 2 double rooms and 1 single room.

Mr. Don Looker
60 Ingrave Road
Chelmsford, TM17 25SG
Exssex, England.

Internet Crime Complaint Center - Vacation Rentals

Posted on Friday, January 22, 2010 - 08:24

I am spending a decent amount of time lately catching fraud as it comes in via new listings. It's a big pain. The good news is that I catch almost 99.9% of them.

However many other sites are not nearly so vigilant in their policing of fraudulent listings. If you are a victim of a scam, please file a complaint with the Internet Crime Center:

It might make a difference!

Richard Butkus - Miami Beach

Posted on Tuesday, December 15, 2009 - 10:08

Miami Beach is getting hit hard lately. I am catching them all. They are easy to spot. They find homes that are for sale, use the exact copy and they are usually huge homes that would never rent as cheap as they claim.

Don't ask me where these fraudsters get all their credit card data from, it's pretty sad.

David Frank - Asking to Send More Money than required = Fraud!!

Posted on Tuesday, November 17, 2009 - 10:52

Thanks a lot for your mail and your understanding ,Well i am very happy to read from you back as regard the property would be available from 1st dec 2009 till 27 dec 2009,I would like to let you know that i am okay with the asking price €425.

Concerning the payment arrangement,i am also assuring you that won't be a problem as one of our company associate in state would be paying the one on my behalf and i had already spoke with him about this and he said that won't be any problem that we should let him know when everything is set so that he can issue you out the payment Asap.

The payment that you would be receiving will be in excess which you are to deduct the week rent and our flight arrangement.I would have love to pay the Traveling Agent but our company associate that would issue out the payment will leave America by Friday at most.

As soon as you get the Euros Check ,you will get it deposited in your bank for clearance and after the money has been cleared into your account,you would deduct the upfront payment and send the remaining balance,which would be for our flight expenses,BTA (Basic Travelers Allowance) and some other necessary paperwork's. The balance should be sent to our traveling agent whose information i would give to you as soon as you receive payment.
Here is my information below :

David Frank
Mrs Lisa Frank
Address : 121 Madie Lane
Santa Rosa Beach, Fl 32459
Contact Number : +138-:490-1783
Home Fax Number :+120-:202-4196
Office Fax Number : +120-:600-4875
Adults : 2

Pls i want you to do this for me in good faith. if you comply,do not hesitate to provide me with these information.

Full Name on Euros Check or America Check :
Full Address,City : Zip Code: State :Country :
Telephone Number :

I would be very glad if you can be of a helping hand and hope to read back from you soonest.
Best Regards.
David Frank
Sent from my BlackBerry®

Sending deposit check to assistant

Posted on Sunday, June 07, 2009 - 13:02

Here is another red flag for fraud I encountered recently. If an alleged property owner asks you to send a check to his assistant in another state or country - don't do it! You are sending your check to someone who thinks they have a real job processing orders. They will deposit the check into their account and then wire the money to an overseas account and then your money is gone!

Jimmy Cena

Posted on Sunday, June 07, 2009 - 13:02


My name is Jimmy Cena,am UK citizen,but currently in Russia on a course training,am writing this email on behalf of my Russian
friends because they cannot write good English,they want you to prepare a Ten days program in your facility for them, they
are from Russia and shall be touring round your City.They re coming to your country for their first Vacation visit,they re just
two couples:
Mr & Mrs Yakov Lev{41 and 36yrs}
Mr & Mrs Olezhka Egor {44 and 38yrs}
Arrival date: 20th August 2009
Departure date :30th August 2009
Number of days: 10days
Number of Guest: 4
Confirm availability and get back to me with your rates and total cost so i can give you my card details for a deposit payment.Am waiting for your
Jimmy Cena

Dr Nelson Mugu - Ekwe Bell - - scammer

Posted on Friday, May 08, 2009 - 08:52

Here is another overseas scammer:


I inquiry for reservations for 3 couples coming for their

honey moon at your property,I would like you to get back to

me with the following.

1. The availability of the dates
2. The Daily cost for the required dates
3. The total cost for the length of their stay.
4. Do you accept credit card payment.

The arrival date for the couples will be 5th August and

they will
depart on 20th August 2009 ,Their stay will last for 15


Do get back to me with the requirements as stated above.

Kindest Regards,
Dr Nelson Mugu
Tel: +4470359 23505
Mobile: +4470359 31593

Don Looker - Fraud

Posted on Tuesday, April 28, 2009 - 13:57

Hello Dear,

I will like to make a reservation in your facility for accomodation, car rental/tour guide for my family. We shall be touring round your country, we are coming to your country for our Family vacation. (Mr. Don Looker, Mrs Cydia, Looker Jnr 25yrs, Alex 28yrs and Cathreen 29yrs)

Arrival date: 9th August 2009
Departure date :29th August 2009
Number of days: 21 days
Number of Guest: 5

Confirm availability and get back to me with your rates and total cost so that i can give you my credit card details or Cashier check for full payment of your service. If possible 5 single rooms or 2 double rooms and 1 single room.

Mr. Don Looker
60 Ingrave Road
Chelmsford, TM17 25SG
Exssex, England.

How One Version of Western Union Scam Works

Posted on Wednesday, April 08, 2009 - 10:26

Scammer posts a property using a stolen credit card with CVV. If they attempt to post a property in Miami, Miami Beach or Manhattan or NYC, these properties are flagged for human review. If the IP of the listing is in Nigeria, it never is allowed to complete. If the IP matches any previous fraud postings, the listing is not allowed to complete.

So not many scammers get by and those that do, have a very short lifespan. 95% are identified before the listing goes live.

How the scam works:

1) Scammer copies a listing from another site
2) Scammer uses very low, "too good to be true" rates
3) Scammer uses a gmail or yahoo or hotmail account
4) Scammer asks to wire deposit to a western union account
5) Scammer posts online job listings for legitimate people who think they have been hired to collect money...these people collect the Western Union Money
6) Collector wires money to scammers usually in Nigeria.

NEVER never wire money or send cashiers checks!! These frauds are very easy to identify in the US. Follow the guidelines, ask us if you have any suspicions, and you won't have any problems. 99.9% of property owners are legit, but the rising popularity of vacation rentals, coupled with the desire to get a "too good to be true" rate can result in be careful!!!

Henrik Powell - Ordained Priests

Posted on Wednesday, April 08, 2009 - 10:25


I want to make a reservation in your facility for Six (6) newly ordained priests from Greece will be visiting your country for a seven(7)day religious program in the month of June 2009.

Arrival Date :12th June 2009
Departure Date:19th June .2009
Number of guest:6
Number of rooms:3

Kindly confirm availability and get back to me with cost so we can pay a deposit so that the rooms will be reserved for them,am waiting for your swift

Mr Henrik Powell.

Shay Golan

Posted on Thursday, January 08, 2009 - 09:45

Beware of this Man!!
He is a wanted US felon with outstanding arrest warrants in Cancun.
Shay Golan (alias Shy Allalouf)

This man is Palestinian-Israeli, who is residing illegally in Mexico using false ID papers. His name is Shay Golan, but also uses the alias of Shy Allalouf or combinations (such as A Golan). He travels with a skinny Palestinian-Israeli companion named Yogev Biton (or Yogi) and a large (attack trained) Rottweiler. He is likely driving a Hummer or luxury car with no plates.
He is a wanted in the US (LA and Vegas) and Canada on felony charges of fraud, grand theft auto and forgery and skipping bail (over $700k). He is also reported to have bribed his way out of a gun charge in 2008.
He will claim to be a wealthy US business owner (he is NOT). He has engaged in several rental and real estate scams in Cancun. He has terrorized two condo owners, taking false possession of their property and is known to make death threats, and material property damage. He is also advertising properties he does not own, scamming honest tourists as well as property owners.
He is considered very dangerous. Avoid him - involve your lawyer - Good luck.

For validation contact: Det. Tim Gipson at the LAPD Financial Crimes division at 213-485-2524 or 310-444-1517. Or contact US FBI in Mexico at 555-211-1723.

Robin Larkins - tip from a visitor - listings removed

Posted on Wednesday, December 03, 2008 - 15:32

I note that you have listings from the Real World Rental Company and Robin Larkins. This outfit is running a deposit scam. Google ''Robin Larkins' fraud' for further information from numerous victims.


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