Officers with the Vail Police Department are reporting an uptick in both short and long-term rental and security deposit scams. Scammers are placing ads online and impersonating actual property owners by including photos of properties via legitimate rental or real estate websites, adding credibility.
Many of the scammers use a local phone number generated by web-based Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services that are available to anyone online without any verification of identity required. Officers have taken several complaints initiated via a Craigslist ad which has resulted in prospective renters wiring money to scammers. Additionally, similar scams have been reported by tourists booking rental-by-owner properties, then arriving to find the real owner has no knowledge of the booking. The Vail Police Department is investigating several of these cases and is urging prospective renters to keep the following mind:
If in doubt, don’t send your hard-earned money until you are 100% sure the transaction isn’t fraudulent.
If you book a vacation rental online, only use reputable websites, and avoid requests to make the payment as a separate transaction outside of the rental website.
If you are a victim of an Internet-based scam, visit the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov, or contact your local law enforcement agency. The Vail Police Department can be reached at 970-479-2201.