Police warn of rental scam in South Lake Tahoe
South Lake Tahoe Police Department has advised vacation home owners, rental companies and people looking to visit the area to beware of a scam over the Internet through vacation rental websites.
So far, three families were victimized by the scam, and, “It is suspected there may be more victims of this crime that have yet to be reported,” a news release Friday from SLTPD stated. “The scam involves false postings on legitimate vacation rental websites advertising rental properties available in South Lake Tahoe. These postings are in legitimate websites alongside legitimate postings and include photographs of residences in the area, which make the postings appear authentic.”
The release stated victims have been contacted by email through a rental website, which are tailored to look authentic with out-of-state bank account and routing numbers baiting victims to send money.
“The suspect then has the victim wire transfer the money (making it non-refundable to the victim by a bank),” the release stated. “The victim then sends the money unknowingly to the suspect(s), thinking they have a reservation for the property. They later arrive at their destination to discover that the transaction was fraudulent and they have been scammed out of their money.”
The alleged thieves were stated to have used accounts in other states using different names that could be construed as male and female names.
“One common denominator is that a cell phone number of 940-238-4477 is listed on the rental agreement,” the release stated. “The SLTPD is asking vacation home owners, and local rental companies to monitor these websites for any fraudulent activity involving their properties.”
Any visitors to the Lake Tahoe area who are a victim of these suspects should contact officer Mark Hounsell of the SLTPD at 530-542-6100.
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