Isle of Palms Police Department warning renters about online scams

Isle of Palms Police Department warning renters about online scams
Source: Live 5 News

ISLE OF PALMS, SC (WCSC) - The Isle of Palms Police Department has already seen two cases of vacation rental scams from online postings this month.

The police say scammers are asking for the money upfront and leaving unsuspecting renters with no place to stay.

Megan Bailey works at Exclusive Properties Vacation Rentals on Isle of Palms and she says she's heard of people being scammed in the past.

"I've heard of people getting here and showing up to a house and there's people in there already, " Bailey said.

Exclusive Properties Vacation Rentals manages over 30 properties on the Isle of Palms.

Bailey says this is peak season for rentals which means peak season for scammers.

And most of those scams are found on websites like Craigslist.

"They won't take credit cards, they won't take a check and that's how you can kind of tell they're a scammer. But we try every day to take our homes down off of that site but they just keep putting them back up over and over again," said Bailey.

On Thursday, the Isle of Palms Police Department went through and flagged multiple listings that they found to be scams.

Detective Louise Hardy says it's important for renters and homeowners to file reports when they come across these posts.

"Please file a report. Let us know that you're being a victim of scams. I think a lot of people are embarrassed about being scammed. We want you to come forward and let us know what's happening so we can look for those properties on craigslist, VBVo, air b&b and red flag them," Hardy said.

Rental companies are also warning you that if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

Many homes average $800 a night but a Craigslist ad may offer it to you for as low as 300 bucks.

And if you wire that money it may be gone for good.

"It's really tough to get that money back. Always use a credit card because if they take the money out with a PayPal account or whatever, we can usually track it back to who it actually is," Hardy said.

Local rental agencies say people are learning more about these scams and doing more research.

"People, they're getting a little bit smarter because they'll call us and say, 'Hey, I've been talking to this guy in India and he says he's ready to move forward with this home that you have listed on your site,'" Bailey explained.

A simple call to a local company can save you money and even help you enjoy your trip.

The Isle of Palms Police Department also recommends renters to do a property records search to make sure the names of the owners match the person they're communicating with.

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