Wow! Some big time scams going on where scam artists rent out homes they don't own on CraigsList
Vacation Rental Scams on the Rise in Tahoe; How to Protect Yourself
POSTED 11:05 PM, FEBRUARY 8, 2016, BY ALI WOLF
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE--
Beautiful South Lake Tahoe. With the snow-covered mountains, the panoramic views and the peace and quiet -- it's no wonder rentals are in high demand.
This season, property manager Kathy Liebhardt is busy placing tourists into homes.
Her most popular property is a multi-million dollar home near Heavenly Mountain Resort. It rents for about $2,000 a night, and it's rarely empty.
But Liebhardt has run into a big problem: scam artists, ripping off her business and leaving travelers high and dry.
"New Year's Eve I get a call around 7:30 that a family [of] 20 people are stating that this is their rental home and they needed to get into the home," Liebhardt said.
In that case, the family found the property on Craigslist, they wired the scammers $8,000.
Liebhardt was stuck doing damage control.
"They're saying, 'Did you double book this house by accident?'"
Liebhardt says this property was double booked six times in December alone.
The El Dorado County District Attorney's Office is currently investigating multiple vacation rental scams in South Lake Tahoe.
The DA's Office figures these scam artists ask their potential victims to wire them money to a bank account out of state, then they withdraw the money and close the account.
"By the time we get to investigate, get officers out there, make contact with the bank, the account's been closed and people have moved on," said Investigator Dave Stevenson.
Stevenson is creating public service announcements to help prevent people from falling for fake online rentals.
He advises travelers use a reputable rental agency, check reviews and watch for extreme deals on the Internet. Also don't wire money, always pay with a credit card.
"That will make sure if it is fraud, they will investigate it as well and safeguard your money," Stevenson said.
Investigators are still trying to catch the scam artists.
"We're using some new investigating tools that we have. We're using cyber investigating tactics," Stevenson said.
They want everyone to be aware and be careful so your getaway is as serene as the scenery.