Category: Owner Information

Cottage Owners: Beware Of The Latest Phishing Scam

cartoon of a phishing scammer

Don’t get caught by a phishing scammer

Over the past couple of years most cottage owners have become familiar with over payment scammers (if you haven’t then please read our article to find out more). However, over the past few weeks, a new breed of scammer has raised its ugly head and we wanted to provide you with information which should hopefully prevent you getting caught.

It would appear that the primary aim of this scammer is to gain access over its victims webmail account. We will explain a little bit more about how the scammer works and the potential risks below but firstly let us highlight the key ‘takeaway’ from this article: never click a link that an ‘enquirer’ (i.e. fake holiday maker) provides in their communication with you regarding a booking, unless you are 100% sure it is safe.

How this phishing scammer works

As normal they operate under a number of different names – these are just a few that we are aware of: Gloria James (gloria.james785@outlook.com); Guadalupe Spurr (guadalupe-spurr@outlook.com) and Daria Louise (daria.louise235@outlook.com), along with Alicia Nelson; Asford Sussan and Greg Holly but there are sure to be more! One thing to note is that throughout the course of communication this person may become forgetful and respond back under a different name, so if you have an enquirer that communicates using different names, be cautious.

An initial enquiry will be sent to the cottage owner which looks fairly genuine at first glance as the scammer asks questions such as: ‘Hi can you tell me if your property is available on the above dates? Also is there wifi at the property? Is there a local shop/bar within walking distance? Thank you. Regards‘. Upon closer investigation you will see that the telephone number is more often than not invalid.

The second communication is when most owners become suspicious as the rogue ‘enquirer’ will create a scenario which encourages the cottage owner to click a link they have placed within the email.  For example:

Hello again!

Thank you. We would like to go ahead with the booking of your property for these dates (which are flexible depending on fligts) but please let me know where exactly is it located.
Is it within walking distance to amenities or do we need a rental car.
We ve been checking the map on the website, could you please confirm that the following link on Google Maps shows the correct location of your house? Is it the one on the left or the one on the right side of the image?
Would you please advise us on how to proceed?
Kindest Regards,

Sent from my iPhone
https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/England/@52.8379502,-2.3247583,6z……….

This is another scenario that they have used:

Hi,

I am glad that is available.
Please find attached the Enquiry Form our passports and our reguests, (our full names – persons, address, phone number contact, email address and the period that interests us. We have put flexible dates, just let us know wich one is available.
After you complete with our dates i will make payment straight away.
Kindest Regards,
Sent from my iPhone

As you can see, the grammar used is not very good which is often a giveaway sign for a scammer but not always!

The aim of the scammer is to get you to click the link they provide. If you do, it will take you to a fake log-in page which they have set up to look like a well known webmail provider (in the case of this scammer they set the page up to look like a gmail login page). Many owners will not fall for this but it can catch an owner out if they have a webmail account with that same webmail provider. If you briefly drop your guard and enter your login details (account name and password), the scammer will then have a record of them and is able to login to your webmail account and wreak havoc (possibly without you even knowing). Once they have your login details they can take on your identity which poses a huge risk (find out more about mitigating on-line fraud risks).

This scammer is currently contacting many cottage owners via a number of different advertising websites, posing as a holiday maker enquiring about a cottage. As time goes on, scams are becoming more clever and plausible so make sure you are not the next cottage owner to get caught!

Here are a few general tips to help you avoid scammers:

  • Pay attention to the grammar used in communication with a potential guest and be cautious of those displaying a poor use of English (although this can be the case for genuine foreign holiday makers).
  • Never click on links unless you are confident they are genuine.
  • If a potential holiday maker is overly flexible (with dates, prices etc), be cautious.
  • Be cautious if an enquirer responds under different names.
  • If you are concerned about the authenticity of an enquirer, request a phone number and try to speak to them in person – scammers are highly unlikely to speak to you!
  • If a booking appears to be too good to be true, it usually is!

5 thoughts on “Cottage Owners: Beware Of The Latest Phishing Scam

  1. Sarah Jarvis Post author

    The latest names being used by the phishing scammer to beware of are: Carola Reyes (reyes.carola24@hotmail.com); Brenda Durham (durhambrenda@hotmail.com), Denisha Arispe (arispe.denisha@hotmail.com) and Duncan Vera (duncan.vera@hotmail.com).

    The phishing message that the scammer sent back in response to the owners reply to the initial enquiry was:

    I want to proceed with booking your lovely property for the available dates, but i am having some problems in finding the exact location of the property on google maps.
    Is it a good idea to rent a car for our vacation? I was trying to locate the property using the map on the listing, but it does not seem to be the one that i am interested in booking, could you confirm that the following link on Google Maps shows the correct location of your property? Is it the one tagged with the red marker?

    Kindest Regards,


    There was a link here to click on which appeared to be to a Google Map.

    Sent from my iPhone

    If a supposed holiday maker sends you a link within their response – please do not click it unless you are 100% sure it is trustworthy.

    Reply
  2. Dini Frost

    Latest scam comes from someone pretending to be Nigel Martins his email is zen_marte81 at an aol account. Do not reply or open his attachment.

    Reply
  3. Sarah Jarvis Post author

    Some info on the recent phishing scam doing the rounds below. As you will see the person (calling himself Ian Lestern on this occasion) claims he has been recommended by a friend who has supposedly stayed at your cottage and he requests that you confirm that the property listed on ‘TripAdvisor’ is your property. There is a link that appears at first glance to go through to TripAdvisor, however, it is not a genuine link and does not go through to TripAdvisor so please do not click through! If you receive one of these enquiry emails we recommend you treat it as a phishing scam and delete.

    “Hello,

    My friend Robert stayed at your property last year and told me that you have a beautiful place there.
    I tried to phone you but i think that your phone number is not correct on your advert. Anyway i wish reserve the second week of September (or the last if you don’t have available the second).

    For what reasons you have the property listed on more websites under different name?
    You are the landlord or the agent of the property, anyway I would like to confirm that this is the property from tripadvisor.

    https://www.tripadvisor.com/property/p329976/

    I will wait your email with all instruction in order to book the property because i have read the comments and you have good feedback!

    Thanks Ian”

    Reply
  4. Pia Saunders

    WARNING TO COTTAGE OWNERS

    We are receiving an increasing number of spoof enquiries. Although most are relatively easy to spot, it is all too easy to click on a link when you are rushing through a batch of enquiries. There are often clues such as asking for a last minute discount for a stay in August, being flexible on dates, mentioning things which are not relevant to your cottage/location and offering to pay by unusual method are just a few. Basically, if it feels wrong, it usually is. Here is one we received today. Needless to say, we didn’t click on the link:

    “Hello,
    I was wandering if you still have available any week on August. My dates are flexible!
    We are a three family group of 4 adults and 2 children from Amsterdam.
    Any last minute discounts?
    I have read some comments about your place and also i have seen that you have good feedback, this is good for our mind but i have seen also that one guest posted “Location is very unsafe”
    You can see that on [the url has been removed but looked like a TripAdvisor URL]
    If you have problems to open it you can copy/paste on your browser.
    I kindly ask you to explain because i really wish book with you but i wish stay with my kids on a safe area!!!Look forward to hearing from you.
    Regards
    Lucia Stikkelorum”

    Reply
  5. Sarah Jarvis Post author

    Thanks for leaving the comments. I received one today which appeared at first glance to be an email from TripAdvisor notifying me that someone had left a review about my property. The email looked genuine at first glance and nearly caught me. It was only when I clicked through that it wanted me to enter my login details which rang alarm bells! Needless to say there was no new review awaiting approval on my TripAdvisor account! Beware, these phishing scams are becoming more plausible.

    Reply

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