Although rare, some inquiries may be from scammers who are trying to perpetrate a scam, while posing as a traveler.  To help identify these fraudulent inquiries, below is a list of some “red flags”. We also have included the definition of an “Over Pay Scam” and what to be on the lookout for.

While the following red flags include the most common traits of the scammers who send fraudulent inquiries to vacation rental owners, legitimate travelers can also share some of these characteristics.  An inquiry that meets any of these criteria should simply put you on alert.  Just remember, none of these red flags alone is enough to indicate that an inquirer is definitely a scammer.

The best way to protect yourself is to get to know who you are renting to — before they arrive. While email may be convenient, we strongly encourage owners and managers to speak with potential guests before confirming their reservations. This enables you to learn more about them and their trip, and answer any questions they may have.
 

Common Scammer Red Flags

  • Demonstrates a poor grasp of spelling, grammar, capitalization, and punctuation
  • Uses a free online e-mail service
  • Gives you far more information than the typical traveler
  • Is a religious figure, sea captain, doctor, or officer in the armed forces
  • Wants to arrange a surprise trip for someone else
  • Wants to pay by certified check, cashier's check, or unsecured wire transfer
  • Offers to pay more than your stated rate
  • Unsolicited payment information in the initial inquiry
  • No inquiry comments or traveler phone number provided
  • Refers to your home improperly in the body of the inquiry (e.g. asks about your lovely apartment when you own a cabin)
  • Submits inquiry for specific dates but will often time tell homeowner that dates are flexible
  • Gives you an uneasy feeling that something isn't quite right.
 

Overpayment Scam

1. In a classic overpay scam, the individual sends you a payment by credit card, cashier's check or money order for an amount that is more than what is actually due. The payment will turn out to be counterfeit or stolen. However, before your bank realizes this, the individual asks you to send the "overpayment" amount back to them or to a third party. Many times they'll use an excuse, saying that their travel department made a mistake and they need for you to send the extra funds to a third party to complete another reservation, for example. After you've sent the funds, your bank will discover that the original check is not valid, and you undoubtedly will never hear from this individual again.

 In order to protect yourself from an overpayment scam, make it clear to potential travelers that you will not accept more than the amount due, and never send refunds for any overpayment to anyone other than the original credit card details.

2. Some scammers will send you the correct rental amount via credit card, cashier's check or money order. They don't attempt to send you an overpayment, but they are still using a bad payment to facilitate this transaction. In this variation of the scam, the individual suddenly indicates that they will need to cut their trip short and asks you to send them a partial refund of their payment. Only after you have sent these funds does your bank discover that their original payment was stolen or counterfeit.

In both scam variations, property owners lose by sending some of their own funds to a scammer before discovering that the original payment is not valid. 

Nonpayment Scam

Nonpayment fraud involves travellers who will attempt to book your property and pay with fake payment receipts or promises of payment. They will often provide an excuse for non-payment or look for extensions due to an unforeseen issue. They may provide numerous excuses. However they are normally designed to engage your empathy (for example death or sickness in the family). We have also seen instances where payment is promised from their interstate company.

The fraudulent traveller will often leave with no notice or when pressured for payment, leaving the Property Manager out of pocket for unpaid bookings and in some circumstances steal and damage items in the property. 

 How do I protect myself?
  • Always ensure that bookings are paid for in advance. 
  • Be wary of promises of future payment.
  • Double check your account to confirm that any payment has been received.
  • Explore taking a refundable damage deposit to cover you for any potential loss you may suffer as a result of damage to your property

What do I do if have been scammed by a traveller?

Please contact local law enforcement for guidance to manage this situation.  Also please use the Contact Us button at the bottom of this page or click here to notify Stayz of this incident. Unfortunately this type of scam is a civil matter and we cannot assist in recovery of any lost monies; however we can use the information you provide to assist in protecting other Property Managers.