BBB issues fake vacation rental scam

Posted at 6:05 PM, Jul 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-23 19:05:28-04

The Better Business Bureau Serving Acadiana is warning consumers of fake vacation rental ads.  Scammers are urging travelers to book their rental accommodations, make a full payment, only for the traveler to discover the entire reservation is fake.Scammers will recreate real rental listings by taking off the owner’s contact information, replace it with their own and place the new listing on a different site.  In other cases, scammers hijack the email accounts of property owners on reputable vacation rental websites.Other scammers don’t bother with real rental listing; they will make up listings for places that aren’t for rent or don’t even exist. To get people to book faster, they will lower the cost and promise great amenities- but demand payment up front.An example of this scam was reported in California.  A group of high school graduates were planning their senior trip; these students paid thousands of dollars up front to travel to Mexico.  When arriving at the airport, they learned they had no plane tickets or hotel reservations.   The students had used a company called Senior Grad Trips to vacation in Cancun.  The company has an "F" rating with the Better Business Bureau, and the owner is reportedly under investigation in at least two states. Reports of this has happened in New Orleans as well, specifically, when tourists plan to attend large attractions such as Mardi Gras.  The Better Business Bureau warns that popular events in New Orleans are ripe for scammers. The BBB says it has received seven complaints about a possible scam through a travel agency promising to help plan a trip to Essence music fest.The BBB offers these tips to protect consumer’s when making travel arrangements: Don’t wire money or pay with a prepaid or gift card for a vacation rental. Once the scammer collects the money, it is almost impossible to get it back. Don’t be rushed into a decision. If you receive an email pressuring you to make a decision on the spot for a rental, ignore it and move on. Look out for super cheap rates for premium vacation properties. Below-market rent can be a sign of a scam. Do some extra research to confirm the deal is legitimate before jumping in. Get a copy of the contract before you send any deposit money. Check that the address of the property really exists. If the property is located in a resort, call the front desk and confirm the location of the property and other details on the contract. Double check your reservations.  It never hurts to call the hotel and the airline and make sure they have your spot reserved. If you can pay with a credit card, you do have some protection under the Consumer Credit Card Act. A lot of times if you protest and illegitimate charge you can get your money back.