Wow! This article is a great example of why renting from places with social connections might be way safer than trusting possibly fake reviews! Friends and Guests is based on hosts and guests being able to research and get to know each other!
Reviews can be fake!
Go Public decided to test the VRBO system by submitting several fake 5-star reviews for properties we've never visited.
The only verification we encountered was a message sent to our email address with a link asking us to verify the review by clicking on it. We were able to get several fake reviews posted.
Definitely see the full article here: VRBO 'luxury villa' turned out to be cockroach-infested 'nightmare' and be sure to watch the video!
Here's a snippet of what happened:
Couple trusted reviews
Mahoney and Stephenson thought they did their homework before paying $10,000 US for the rental, plus a $1,000 US damage deposit.
Review by Rosa
A fake review created by Go Public that was put up on the VRBO website without verification. (CBC )
They checked the reviews and asked the property owner to provide a third-party reference. They got one from a real estate agent with an established company in Nassau who told them he knew the property and owner well and there was nothing to worry about.
The couple also tried to pay by credit card hoping that would offer some protection from fraud. But after contacting the property manager through the VRBO website, they were told a money transfer was the only option. Suspicious, they contacted VRBO.
"I asked them how do I know it is a legitimate transaction? They said as long as the transaction has the property listing number then we would be protected," Stephenson said.
He said a big part of the decision to book the villa was the reviews on the VRBO website.
"We relied very heavily on the reviews and those reviews were all 5-star. The reviews were all 'fantastic place,' 'want to go back every year.' 'Can't believe how gorgeous it is,'" Stephenson said.