Wednesday 18 July 2018

¡ Summer comes through the door and you forced out through the window !

In the summer, people tend to be more relaxed because for the majority it is synonymous with holidays or at least their arrival. This season of the year makes people more relaxed, leading some people to be more susceptible to deception. The emergence of new technologies contributed on a large scale to make life easier for scammers as they often pay for things online without ever checking them personally. 

There are 4 most common scams during the holiday period: 

  1. Burglar alarms;
  2. Non-existent tourist packages of illegal agencies or operators; 
  3. Gifts on social networks (cruises or stays of a week with incredible promotions);
  4. Rent of properties for holidays (rent of apartments on the beachfront). 

Renting a house often seems a more interesting hypothesis than staying in hotels, but also becomes attractive to scammers, who often end up asking for an advance payment for an imaginary property. These, use well-known pages like "" or "" to carry out their scams. They can appropriate photographs of a flat, noting the address and pretending to be the owner without the real owner perceiving what is happening to them. In this context, the scammer tends to ask for money in advance since in reality there is no residence to rent. In a different but no less important way, they also advertise images of dream apartments, perfectly furnished and with the peculiarity of being located on the beachfront, at extremely cheap prices. In these cases, in addition to the prices well below the average that can give us a warning signal, the location and the state of the apartment can be fictitious.

Fortunately, there are always ways to avoid this type of fraud, being a little more attentive in the suspicious details present in the ads in question. In general, before paying, it is important to check that the apartment is actually for rent and that it is located at the address provided. You only have to look at other known websites (because it is rarely exclusive deals), try to contact the owner and check the prices, and then use simple maps or GPS programs to confirm the location.

In order for a person to protect himself or herself from this type of crime, it is essential to keep four key points in mind:

  1. Use an ad website with a good reputation and popularity (FlipKey, HomeAway, and VRBO, in case of Airbnb it is important that people have the Verified ID badge). Properties that do not have comments better avoid them.
  2. Make sure the ad is real. For that, you can search online the property and the terms "short-term rents" and "tenant rights".
  3. Search and locate, using, for example, Google Earth to ensure that the property is the same as the photographs in the advertisement. It is also important to obtain the rental agreement in writing.
  4. Payment must be made by credit card or PayPal, and never by transfer. But it is best to always call the landlord before sending the money.

Despite all the care of the world nobody is free to go through such a situation, where the imagination of the scammer exceeds the capacity of the victims to understand what is happening to them. However, the more informed the people are, the more difficult the work will be for those who make their living by deceiving others without the least bit of modesty.

Sindia Alves and A. Oliver
Anthropologist and Private Investigator
of Oliver Detectives


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