Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Canadian family loses $4K in vacation home scam

As regular readers of this blog know, I'm a huge fan of vacation home and apartment rentals. I've rented properties on three continents and, fortunately, have never been the victim of a scam. But fraudsters are out there, as shown by this recent CBC story about a Gatineau, Quebec, family who lost $4,000 while trying to rent a Florida vacation home.

What's particularly galling about this scam is that the would-be renters did so many things right. They used what appeared to be a legitimate site,, that's affiliated with The Weather Channel. They checked that the home existed and that the bank account they were asked to send money to actually belonged to the home's purported owner.  

The details are still emerging, but it appears that had no knowledge that the home listing was a fake. Like many other RBO (rent-by-owner) sites, the site is a compilation of listings from hundreds of individual property owners and managers.

There is always a slight risk in renting a vacation home online, but there are a number of ways to reduce it. They include sending the smallest deposit possible, with the rest payable on arrival at the house; using a company that vets each property owner; and relying on recommendations from friends who have previously stayed in a particular property. I have a longer article outlining tips for vacation home renters on my website,

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