Tania Rieben thought she’d scored a bargain on a one-bedroom condominium in Maui for spring break. She’d found the vacation rental through a popular Web site called VRBO.com and then negotiated directly with the owner.
Shauna Kattler thought she’d found the ideal rental home in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, for her Christmas vacation: a two-bedroom penthouse condominium with a hot tub and an impossibly perfect view of the Caribbean.
Anthony Lipschitz is the chief executive of iStopover, a site that connects homeowners who have spare rooms to rent with travelers looking for affordable accommodations. With several high-profile cases of vacation rental customers being ripped off — including, ahem, some of my colleagues — I wanted to find out how to avoid becoming a victim.
Margot Rowland and her husband just wanted to take their grandchildren on a memorable journey to Paris. So she scoured the HomeAway site and found the perfect vacation home for the family. But as their travel plans were coming together, she made a wire transfer mistake that the bank could not reverse. And now the trip and their $3,000 are in jeopardy.
You’ve found the perfect vacation rental. The owner asks you to pay via wire transfer. Should you do it? Meir Hurwitz, of Brooklyn, N.Y., did, and now he’s out nearly $17,000.
He’s not the first to be taken in by a vacation rental fraud and likely won’t be the last. Over the years this site has carried many stories warning about vacation rental scams. Many of those involved wire transfers.