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July 24, 2015: Fraud Alert: Vacation Rental Scams Target Seniors

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Vacation rental scammers advertise properties that they do not own on classified ad websites and often include eye-catching photos of luxurious properties.

Once the would-be renter is hooked, the fake landlord collects an upfront “security deposit” and is gone. The victims are left unaware that they have been cheated until weeks later, when they arrive at their destination only to learn they’ve been had.

Some vacation rental scammers also defraud seniors by obtaining personal information from them, stealing their identities and accessing their accounts.

TIPS:

  • Don’t be fooled by photos. Use a web service to make sure the property you hope to rent is at the address advertised.
  • Always make your purchases with a check or credit card; never use cash or nonreturnable cash transfers.
  • Look for feedback from previous renters on websites. In some cases you may pose questions online to previous renters.
  • Be suspicious if the would-be landlord only wants to communicate through text message.

For more information on scams that target seniors, go to the Elder Abuse/Financial Fraud pages of the District Attorney’s website (http://da.lacounty.gov/seniors/financial-fraud). If you or someone you know has been the victim of a scam, please contact the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs at (800) 593-8222 or visit http://dcba.lacounty.gov.

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