PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Attorney General Ashley Moody is warning the public about vacation rental scams that have become all too common in the Sunshine State this time of year.
“I love the beach. I try to go to the beach early in the morning usually,” Sophia Pastal told WPTV Monday at Ocean Reef Park in Singer Island.
South Florida beaches draw in thousands of people each summer.
“We’re close enough to the beach where it’s a two-minute car ride,” Massimo Dicicco said.
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Dicicco told WPTV he bought a vacation home in Juno Beach back in 2005, saying goodbye to rentals before the internet became a big avenue when looking for a place to stay.
“Our son was looking for a place by FAU and they made us send all of our credit information to get this apartment they had no intentions of renting to us,” Dicicco said.
He said they lost $100 to the scam.
It’s a big problem in the Sunshine State this time of year, prompting Attorney General Ashley Moody to release a warning last week.
“Fake ads for rental properties are all over the internet. Responding to these ads will cost you money, or leave you stranded with no place to stay,” Moody said.
It’s also something on the Better Business Bureau’s radar all year long.
“It’s important for people to look, if they’re finding vacation rentals on social media, sometimes Facebook Marketplace, make sure you click on whoever is posting just to see the other posts this person has,” Cinthya Lavin with the BBB told WPTV.
The BBB also suggests reading reviews thoroughly, checking to see if the photos of the rental property are affiliated with other listings by using a reverse image search, using a reputable website that offers protection in the event of fraud, and if the landlord only gives you an email address or a foreign phone number, know that’s a red flag.
“A lot of the times, they will show the most beautiful places, large with a lot of amenities for a very small price,” Lavin said.
That’s something to keep in mind when you plan your next getaway.
“If it seems too good to be true, it is,” Dicicco said.