It’s an old scam that has been around for years, but it’s still catching owners out! Technology is not the only thing that moves forward, so do scammers and their techniques in conning people out of money.
Over the years we have seen numerous scams but the one that appears to be the most common, and keeps rearing its ugly head, is the ‘holiday maker’ (aka scammer) who wants to pay too much money. If anyone ever wants to pay more money than the value of the rental (however plausible the reason may appear), our advice is to stay well away as it is highly likely to be a scam.
The principle behind this type of scam has not changed over the years. The scammer will book the accommodation, make an overpayment and request the overpayment value be paid back once the funds have cleared in your account. The reasons for the overpayment are often work related (e.g. their company is paying and can only make one payment which includes travel, expenses etc) so it may appear plausible. But (and there has to be one!)… whilst the payment will initially appear to clear in your account, a few weeks later the payment will bounce and the scammer will be long gone with the money you paid them back (i.e. the sum of the overpayment).
These scams used to be easier to spot as the scammers had very poor use of English. However, they are getting smarter, have a better use of English, telling more believable stories and at times quote contact details for both themselves and their companies which at first glance, adds a feeling of authenticity to the enquiry.
We thought we would share with you two recent scams that are currently being tried. Hopefully this will help you familiarise yourself with this type of scam and also provide details of two scammers that are currently contacting cottage owners (however, names and email addresses do change).
The first scammer calls himself Francis Martins and this was his initial enquiry email:
As you can see, grammar is poor. First tip: If you receive an enquiry that contains poor grammar, the alarm bells should start to ring. Do not automatically disregard it as many legitimate foreign holiday makers have limited English, but be cautious. Second tip: ‘Greetings’ is a word that scammers often use. But, it can also be used by foreign holiday makers (I have had genuine enquiries from Holland which include this term) but more often than not it appears on scam emails. Third tip: If a phone number is provided, phone it. It is highly unlikely you will get to speak to a scammer (as is the case above)!
This is the second email ‘Francis Martins’ sent to the owner:
As you can see, the grammar is a little better on this email (although the response is standardised which is another giveaway) and the reference to the company name is a clever tactic in creating trust. However, the owner did contact the company quoted who confirmed that this was not genuine. Fourth Tip: Should anyone ever want to make an over-payment, our advice is to walk away from the booking and cease communication. It is not worth the risk and highly likely to be a scam. Fifth Tip: If something appears to be too good to be true, it probably is! Scammers are often very flexible about their arrival date, happy to pay over the odds for the accommodation and quick to book without asking many (if any) questions about the accommodation itself (only payment). This next scam is a classic example:
I personally received this scam for one of our cottages from ‘Mr & Mrs Lewis Garcia’. As you can see, the use of grammar is better on this enquiry but it rang warning bells firstly because of the use of ‘good day’ (just like ‘greetings’, this is another popular phrase used by scammers). The mention of ‘total cost’ and ‘tax’ also raised concerns, as did the appearance of flexibility on arrival date.
When I went back to the scammer and offered an alternative date and price, this was the response that I (unsurprisingly) received:
Needless to say, I did not take the booking from the Garcia’s!
Hopefully the tips and examples above will help you to easily identify this type of scammer. Some scams are very easy to spot but others are harder and more convincing. Cottage owners should also be aware of telephone scammers.
If you receive a suspicious enquiry, do some research online. Search under the ‘scammers’ name and email address to see if any forums have reported the scammer in the past. It is also worth searching any unusual requests such as ‘Certified euro cheque’ as in the ‘Garcia’ case above. As you can see, there’s plenty of information online to indicate it’s a scam:
If you are ever in doubt, feel free to email us and we will more than happily take a look and give you our view. It is also really useful for advertising websites like ourselves to be made aware of scammers so we can ensure we stop them contacting other owners.
Have you recently been contacted by a scammer? If so, please help spread the word and make other owners aware by leaving the details below.