The Vail Police Department is warning mountain town renters and tourists about an uptick in rental scams targeted at those desperately seeking to find housing.
The police department said scammers are posting rental and vacation properties on Craigslist, establishing "credibility" by reposting photographs of properties via legitimate rental or real estate websites.
Many of these fraudulent transactions involve payment methods via PayPal or Zelle. Another red flag to watch out for is e-mail messages or ads with misspelled words, punctuation, and grammatical errors.
Here are a few common things to be wary of when looking for a place to rent, according to the Vail Police Department.
- Be cautious of a deal that seems too good to be true.
- Locals should be cautious of sending the first month’s rent or a security deposit to anyone they haven’t met with in person.
- Only wire money to known, trusted recipients.
- Scammers requesting payment via electronic funds or wire transfers, as opposed to known, trusted sources should be considered suspicious.
- If you can’t meet in person, consider asking the landlord for a U.S. based address to send payment, and try to verify their identity and location.
- Consult your bank and read the fine print about what protections are in place when sending money.
- If you book a vacation rental online, only use reputable websites, and avoid requests to make the payment as a separate transaction outside of the rental website.
Victims of an Internet-based scam may visit the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov, or contact your local law enforcement agency. The Vail Police Department can be reached at 970-479-2201.