If there is a way to cheat short-term rental customers out of their money online you can bet that criminals will find a way to exploit it. A recent story at the Virginia-Pilot (Virginia Beach area) illustrated the growing problem of scammers using sites like Craigslist to surreptitiously list and then rent short-term rental properties that they do not own or control. One rental home owner in Virginia Beach says he’s had to turn away people already this year who paid someone else to rent one of his summer rentals – which he only lists on Airbnb and VRBO. He told the Virginia-Pilot that it’s always the same culprit (Craiglist) when he has to turn away families, often with their cars packed full of luggage, beach chairs, umbrellas and toys.
“Craigslist and vacation rental websites like Airbnb have made it easy for homeowners to rent their properties, and for consumers to find them. But the increase in Internet listings has brought more fake listings posted by scammers….”
“On Craigslist, a rental place might be listed at $200 a night, Ramaekers said. “It’s (actually) triple that during the summer. It’s unheard of. That’s what happened. They see these reduced prices and then wire the money and the wired money goes to an account somewhere,” he said.”