GRAND LAKE, Colo. — With the 4th of July days away, many families are considering booking a vacation rental, but beware: a local couple just found out scammers created a fake rental listing for their cabin.
Nestled in the mountains, where elk and moose roam freely, is Corry and Ray McDowell’s private getaway. They own a custom log home in Grand Lake.
“We have this little private lake and we’re surrounded by mountains and pine trees,” Corry McDowell said.
The couple rents out their cabin on the website VRBO. Their cabin is a popular destination spot for families.
“We’re totally booked pretty much through the end of August right now,” Corry McDowell said.
But last week, she got a strange call.
“All of the sudden we’re getting this call from a lady and she said, ‘Do you have your cabin listed on Craigslist?’ I said, ‘No, we don’t advertise on Craigslist, only on VRBO.'”
McDowell soon discovered her cabin was being listed for rent on Craigslist for half the price. The scammer used the same pictures she has on her website and VRBO ad. Interested renters book with Paypal – but would never actually get the vacation.
“It’s kind of evil. I think that someone is doing this and profiting off of it,” McDowell said. “The woman said she filled out the agreement and just had an uneasy feeling, so she took the title and Googled it. VRBO came up with the same pictures and my website with my phone number.”
McDowell flagged the ad and it was removed from Craigslist, but just five days later, her phone started ringing again.
“Someone else is getting ahold of me that the scammers have re-listed it on Craigslist.”
The FOX31 Problem Solvers alerted Craigslist about the fraudulent ad. Meanwhile, the Federal Trade Commission offers this advice:
- Don’t wire money for a vacation rental (once the scammer collects the money, it’s nearly impossible to get back).
- Look out for cheap rates for a premium vacation spot (below market rate can be a sign of a scam).
- Get a copy of the contract before you send any deposit money. The bottom line is: do extra research to confirm it’s legitimate before jumping in.