Lynn Haven, Fla. (WMBB) — Imagine showing up for an already paid for vacation or short-term stay only to find the owner of the property has no idea about the transaction.
This happens often, and especially during the summer months in the Panhandle according to the Bay County Sheriff’s Office. Criminals based out of town will post fake properties or legitimate rentals on sites like Craigslist, changing the contact information to their email and phone numbers. Upfront payment is demanded, but when the victims arrive to the properties, the owners have no idea who they are.
Corporal Dennis Rozier said since the scam artist is usually out of state or country, arresting them or getting the victim’s funds back is typically an impossible task. He advised that because of this the Sheriff’s Office tries to keep the community aware of this scam before they ever fall for it.
Rozier advised checking a rental posting on multiple sites, making sure the same property is advertised on different web pages or apps, as that is often an indicator of legitimacy. He added to confirm the contact information on all platforms is the same.
“Use your common sense, most of the time there is a red flag, something makes you think, ‘Whoa that doesn’t sound right.’ Trust that, follow that up, that’s your brain saying that this isn’t right, don’t fall for the scam.” Rozier said. “Don’t send money out in advance like that unless you know for 100% sure that it is legitimate.”