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Beware of Vacation Home Scams

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By : David Abernathy    99 or more times read
If you own investment property geared towards the vacation market, you should know about a popular scam that is targeting your demographic. A person emails you about your property. Without even needing a description of the place, the person is enthusiastic about it and thinks it's the only place to live. They want to send you a check. Not just any check, but a check that is way over and above the amount you are asking for the damage deposit and first month's rent. All you have to do is cash it and wire back the remainder. Oh, and keep an extra $1000 for your trouble.

What you've just gotten slammed with is Advance Fee Fraud, also known as 4-1-9 fraud (after the Nigerian penal code section addressing fraud) due to the overwhelming number of scammers that operate in that country. Hundreds of people every year fall victim to these and similar scams. While a large number originate in African countries, these scams have been run in a number of different countries, not excluding Britain and the U.S., so your scam letter could be very convincing indeed.

Sellers or renters of big ticket items are often targeted by this kind of fraud. The goal is to get the target to send legitimate money via a money transfer service like Western Union before they realize that the check they have been sent is worthless. In the case of rental real estate, this could amount to thousands of dollars gone. Not only are you out your own money, most banks will hold you responsible for the bounced check, which means even more money out of your pocket.

Legitimate real estate renters send verifiable checks for the correct amount - no one in their right mind sends MORE than what the landlord is asking! They ask questions about the rental, they want to have a sample of the contract. They aren't mindlessly generous and most of them are not going to give you details about their heart-wrenching travails in their own country.

Be suspicious of people who want to use an unsecured form of money transfer, certified checks or cashier's checks. Horribly bad spelling and grammar is another sign that this is an overseas scam run by someone with an imperfect command of English, even though they might claim that they are a "businessman" or some other figure who one could reasonable expect to have a good command of the language.

If you are not sure about the inquiry, do some Internet research. If the person wanting to rent your vacation condo is a "high ranking official", surely there should be evidence. They should be willing to show you ID that proves they are who they say they are and have a legitimate email address (i.e. not Hotmail or another free address). They should be willing to conduct their transaction by credit, PayPal or another secure form of money transfer.

If you're sure that something is a scam, don't answer the email. This will just encourage people to keep emailing you. Delete all scam messages without replying instead of hitting the "This is Spam" button, as this might send all inquiries into Junk. is by far the most advanced Palm Beach homes website. Visit its pages (rich in listings!) for info about the local areas and property types, including Palm Beach's Esplanade Estates Homes For Sale.

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