Scam Alerts

The internet has been a key enabler in the sharing economy, but it also exposes you to a world of potential crooks and fraudsters!  It’s a cat and mouse game as fraudsters attempt to find ways around the various security measures that websites put in place. 

You, the owner/manager, become an important part of the security chain - so being aware, but not paranoid, and putting your own security measures in place around email, and disclosure of information, is critical.

The Owner/Manager email account takeover scam

Here the fraudster’s intent is to extract money from renters by intercepting the enquiry flow and impersonating the owner/manager of the property.  There are two phases: the email collection (phishing) phase, followed by the email account takeover and defrauding of the renter phase.

How it works

The fraudster makes bogus enquiries on a number of properties, harvesting the email addresses of any owners/managers who respond.  Once a database of owner/manager email addresses is compiled an attempt is made to hack into the email accounts of any that have unsecured web-based email services, e.g. gmail, hotmail, yahoo mail etc.

If they manage to gain access to the email account they will intercept the communication from past and future enquirers.  By setting up filters and email forwarding they can do this without the owner/manager even knowing that this is happening.  With the rental enquiry communication intercepted they will pose as the owner/manager and extract rental payments to an account (offshore).

How to avoid it

Make sure your email account is completely secure.  Use passwords that are impossible to guess and don’t share passwords across multiple websites and services.  Set-up two factor authentication on your account (using mobile phone and/or secret questions). 

Money laundering scam

Here the criminal attempts to use a holiday rental transaction to launder money from a stolen credit card, travellers cheques or sometimes a fake or stolen personal or bank cheque.

How it works

The owner/manager recieves what seems like a normal enquiry for accommodation.  The booking is accepted and a quotation provided.  The payment is made and then, soon after, a request to cancel the booking is received – but with a request that the refund be sent via a different payment method.

Once the credit card is reported as stolen the bank will do a charge back of the amount paid leaving you out of pocket.

How to spot it:

  • Often high value rental (longish stay, multiple people)
  • Overly enthusiastic to pay.
  • Pays fast but then cancels quickly
  • Asks for a refund via a different payment method, e.g. IMT to offshore account or Western Union
  • Often very comfortable with losing deposit, even if cancelled very shortly after booking made.

How to avoid it

When taking credit card or other payments be very suspicious if asked to refund via a different payment method.  With credit cards only ever provide a refund to the same credit card used for payment.

The “something is wrong with your computer” scam

Not really holiday rental related but worth adding to the list because it’s so prevalent.  The intention here is to get to load “malware” onto your computer and then force you to pay to have to regain access to your computer and the information, or threaten to delete your hard drive contents.

How it works

You receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from Microsoft or Apple Support.  They inform you that there is a problem with your computer and they’ve been assigned to help you fix it.  If you believe them, and follow their instructions, they will get you to download some specific “malware” which will allow them to take over and lock your computer. 

You are then asked to pay money to have your computer access returned and/or your information returned.

How to avoid it

If you receive a phone call from ANYONE claiming to be Microsoft or Apple (or some other major computer software/hardware supplier) do not believe them.  These companies will never phone you unsolicited.

Have you come across a new scam? Let us know and we’ll post an update on this page…



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