Falling for a vacation rental property scam is a lot easier than one may think. 

Renee Wikstrom with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) said scammers are just that tricky.

“For vacation rental properties a lot of times they have to prepay the entire vacation and they’ll get there and its a home or a condo that’s already rented to someone who lives there full time or even the address may not even exist,” Wikstrom said. 

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Wikstrom said some scammers can make ads look so convincing by mixing real and fake information. 

“A lot of times if it’s an individual condo or an apartment that sort of thing. Sometimes they’ll check the tax records and Hijack the actual owner’s name and information and just change the email address,” Wikstrom said.

Chief Michael Fanning with the Pawleys Island Police Dept. said two people in their area fell victim to these types of scams. On Wednesday, officials with the dept. sent out a tweet warning the public to be cautious when renting a vacation home and they’ve recently had a couple of fraudulent transactions. 

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Chief Fanning said people see a good price for a vacation rental property and are excited to take it but sometimes if you look a little closer at the fine print, you can spot some red flags. 

“There were certain requirements that they had asked for with this particular rental like the asked about pets and told people to sign a disclaimer on pets which a normal rental company would do but when you read the wording of these documents or the way they word certain things, sometimes it just set off a red flag of maybe this person is not really local, they don’t know the area very well,” Chief Fanning said. 

Chief Fanning said it’s easier to get scammed on Craigslist because there aren’t reviews left by previous owners but on places like Facebook marketplace, people should make sure to go through each review to make sure the ad is legitimate. 

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“If you’re not familiar with the internet or you don’t deal with internet transactions on a regular basis, you need to be very very careful of who you’re dealing with and try to vet them out,” Fanning said. 

Wikstrom said when it comes to getting your money back after being scammed it’s pretty hard. 

“In most cases, unless you put it on a credit card, not a debit card but a credit card — sometimes if you have the right type of account with your bank you can get it back but it usually doesn’t happen. People usually don’t get their money back,” Wikstrom said. 

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Chief Fanning said it gets a little tricky when it comes to determining who these scammers are and what law enforcement agency has jurisdiction when someone is scammed booking a vacation rental property. 

“As you would imagine that the telephone number and the names that were provided in some of these ads, they’re not real.  It’s difficult for us to track down where the money actually goes and who these victims have actually been dealing with. In this particular situation since the transaction and the rental actually was paid for at the person’s residence they need to file a police report with that agency that they live in,” Chief Fanning said.

Wikstrom said people should not be ashamed if they fall for a scam, it happens and BBB employees have fallen for scams like these before.