South Lake Tahoe police: Craigslist scam targets VHR renters
Potential vacation home renters are being targeted via a scam on Craigslist, according to the South Lake Tahoe Police Department.
The scam involves a listing that includes pictures and a lengthy description of a real house. The post then requires hopeful renters to pay in advance, usually by check or Western Union wire.
When the victims arrive at the advertised vacation home rental (VHR), they typically find it is either a full-time residence or already occupied by other renters.
In some cases, scammers are asking potenital renters to deposit money into a bank account or to buy gift cards and provide the numbers on the card.
The South Lake Tahoe Police Department recommends the following steps to avoid being scammed.
Use a Credit Card: Never use bank wires, certified checks, Western Union or any other service where the money is gone forever immediately after you send it. The credit card company has already performed basic background checks on the company charging your card.
Obtain full contact info and verify: Obtain full contact information for the person you are dealing with (name / address / phone number / email / etc.) and verify that information (by using Google search, etc). Any real business should be easy to verify. However, if dealing with a person, ask for references, especially full work contact info, and verify that contact info.
Your phone calls are answered: Avoid them if they always have to call you back (when you call, you always have to leave a message to call you back). When they call, ask for a phone number where you can immediately call them back. If they don’t pick up the phone, watch out. Be aware that many scammers use message services (no one answers; you always need to leave a message). Also, Google any phone numbers. You should find your contact person associated with that number. If not, that may indicate the phone number is brand new.
Victims of a vacation rental scam should contact the South Lake Tahoe Police Department at 530-542-6100.