Freeze Warning issued October 17 at 3:22AM EDT expiring October 18 at 8:00AM EDT in effect for: Bay, Genesee, Huron, Lapeer, Lenawee, Livingston, Macomb, Midland, Monroe, Oakland, Saginaw, Saint Clair, Sanilac, Shiawassee, Tuscola, Washtenaw, Wayne
Scammers in other countries copy your sale listing (and all the photos), then put up a rental listing on Craigslist, Airbnb, VRBO or HomeAway, which is where Hollander's ended up.
"We looked at the ad," she said. "And indeed all the outside and interior pictures we had taken for selling our home were now listed on this website."
She contacted HomeAway.com, which has since pulled the listing.
Warning signs of a scam
HomeAway (and its sister site VRBO) have warnings on their site about bogus rentals, and are responsive to homeowners who contact them in cases like Hollander's, though you will have to provide proof you are the real owner.
The price is too low for the area, such as $150 a night in a beach community where most homes are $300 a night.
There is no feedback from previous renters.
The owner wants a money order, MoneyGram or Western Union wire transfer, rather than a credit card, which can protect you from fraud.
The "owner" says he is out of the country, perhaps relocated temporarily for business.
The scariest part? Hollander worries that renters might show up on her doorstep any time.
"I was told by HomeAway that my house had been rented at least three times in the future," she said.
She said she hopes HomeAway can warn them they were scammed.
How to protect yourself
If you are a homeowner, keep your eyes out for any strange calls, Facebook posts or anyone showing up at your door asking about a rental.
If you are renting a vacation home, Forbes suggests contacting the owner directly and asking some questions.
Be suspicious if the answers seem canned, or if the "owner" makes a bunch of grammatical errors in the email or text. That can mean he may not be in the country, and that way you don't waste your money.
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