AG Ashley Moody warns against vacation rental scams

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 on Monday at Ocean Reef Park in Singer Island.

South Florida’s beaches attract thousands of people each summer.

“We’re pretty close to the beach where it’s a two-minute drive,” said Massimo Dicicco.

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Dicicco told WPTV he bought a Juno Beach vacation home 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 through FAU and they had us send all of our credit information to get this apartment they had no intention of renting to us,” Dicicco said.

He said they lost $100 because of the scam.

It’s a big problem in the Sunshine State this time of year, prompting Attorney General Ashley Moody to issue a warning last week.

“Fake advertisements for rental properties are all over the internet. Responding to these ads will cost you money or leave you with no place to stay,” Moody said.

It’s also something on the Better Business Bureau’s radar all year round.

“It’s important for people to look, if they find vacation rentals on social media, sometimes on Facebook Marketplace, make sure you click on the one posting just to see other posts from that person,” Cinthya said. BBB’s Lavin at WPTV.

The BBB also suggests reading reviews carefully, checking if rental property photos are affiliated with other listings using reverse image search, using a reputable website that offers fraud protection, and if the owner only gives you a foreign email address or phone number, know that’s a red flag.

“A lot of times they’ll show the nicest places, big ones with lots of amenities for a very small price,” Lavin said.

It’s something to keep in mind when planning your next getaway.
“If it sounds too good to be true, it is,” Dicicco said.

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