Fraudsters aim to cash in on expensive summer vacation plans

Experts warn of imposter booking websites and fake vacation rentals
Fraudsters aim to cash in on expensive summer vacation plans
Posted at 5:00 AM, Jun 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-16 08:42:09-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — Everything seems to cost more right now. So, if you’re going to spend thousands of dollars on a summer vacation the last thing you want is to find out you didn’t get what you thought you paid for, or that you booked your trip with a scammer.

According to research from travel insurance companies, this month the average family is spending $6,564 on trips (based on travel insurance policies sold). That’s up more than $2,000 from June of 2021 and up more than $1,000 from 2019, before the pandemic.

With this kind of money at stake, fraud experts say the crooks are hoping you’ll make a mistake.

”In the last six months we’ve seen an incredible spike in activity in travel,” said CSU Global’s “Dr. Fraud” J. Michael Skiba. “So, what that does is it draws the scammers into that area. I’ve seen statistics stating 80% of robocalls and robotexts are now focused on travel. It’s astronomical because a lot of people are dusting off the luggage. They want to get out and about.”

You may remember in 2021- baseball fans were making the trip to Arizona for spring training, just to find out their home rental for the week wasn't a rental at all. Trish and Steven have owned their Arizona home for more than a decade. The couple says they had visitors with luggage coming to their door, but they weren't expecting anyone.

"We had the unfortunate pleasure of telling people there was no room for them available," said Trish. "We put up a sign that says this is not an Airbnb. You've been scammed. Please report it to Airbnb."

It turns out someone listed their full-time home as a vacation rental on Airbnb using fake pictures but sending travelers to their address. Many had already paid and were not happy to find they had no place to stay.

Here's some expert advice to help you in finding a real vacation rental:

First, make sure it's not too good to be true.

“It could be a good deal, but just do a little more diligence in your research,” says Skiba.

You can do that by checking prices for comparable listings, a really low price could be a red flag.

”Look at the photo and do a reverse image search on it. Just put it in a general google image reverse search and you might just see that it’s a generic picture taken off of some real estate company’s site,” Skiba tells News5.

Next, research and read reviews and see if the rental website provides a history for the host.

”Some scammers actually create totally fake impostor websites, so people will actually Google AirBnB and they could be taken to an impostor website,” warns Skiba.

Fraud experts say if possible try to always book those summer vacation rentals with a credit card. The fraud protection could help stop payments and gives you a better chance of getting your money back.

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