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Scams on the Horizon: Florida Warns Tourists About Fake Vacation Rentals

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody has issued an official consumer alert, warning tourists nationwide to beware of vacation rental scams this summer .

“Florida is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the country. When renting a vacation home, in or out of state, take extra precautions to avoid getting burned during the summer vacation season," Moody said.

Florida's beaches are visited by millions of tourists each year, but the Sunshine State is known for its scams. Some cybersecurity experts have dubbed Florida the "scam capital of the world," but rental scams are spreading across the country. warned about 

According to the FBI, scammers are stealing money with short-term and long-term rental scams. According to FBI data, 11,578 people reportedly lost her $350,328,166 to this type of fraud in 2021, a 64% increase from the previous year.

Fort Lauderdale beach
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I've heard of an incident where they actually flew to Miami on vacation, flew to Fort Lauderdale and then actually approached the property and they actually knocked on the door and the owner came out and said

Del Amo warns that vacation rental scams are flooding Craigslist and Facebook. In fact, one Departmental experts estimate that 1 in 5 online rental listings are fake.

"I'd say maybe 20% to 25% are scams." Del Amo said. 

Families caught in these scams lost thousand dollars. 

Rental scam memo
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"I left Tennessee at 3am. We arrived in Panama City around 11:30am and I was ready to message her on Facebook, telling her we were there, what we were driving and where we were parked. That's when she blocked me on Facebook. 

Katie Hall hastily found a new place to live with her husband and three young boys.

"The original cost we lost was $1,425, which was the original It was the cost of the condo itself.Then I had to make different plans and arrangements and like I said I had no intention of turning back and going back to Tennessee so I had to find another hotel

 Hotel on the beach
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Scams are on the rise, said Hall. There are ways to protect yourself. Her AG of Florida shared the following tip: 

  • Listings that require consumers to leave her platform or website online to pay are serious. Please be aware that this is a red flag.
  • See if photo of rental property is affiliated with another listing using a reverse image search.
  • If anything seems suspicious, request additional photos for the listing.
  • Use reputable rental websites that offer protection in the event of fraud or offer payment transfer options.
  • Pay through the listing's website's payment portal and have the money held in escrow until you receive the keys.
  • Don't rely solely on email to communicate with your landlord, and be wary of listings with foreign phone numbers.
  • Check reviews and visit facilities if possible to make sure everything is up to standard.
  • Pay the rental fee with a credit card as it is easier to dispute fraudulent charges.
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That amount is irreversible. Because that's what they're looking for. They never ask you for a credit card.

Facebook and Craigslist warned users to beware of scams and also shared some tips to avoid scams. Both companies also ask users to report suspicious activity.