Scammers targeting vacation renters in Sarasota

Scammers targeting vacation renters in Sarasota

Vacation scam

SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – Craigslist rental scams have been popping up across the Tampa Bay area. Now, they’re happening in Sarasota. Victims are showing up for a vacation rental, only to learn they were duped.

Earlier this year, Laura Glanz from Iowa decided to go on a vacation. “We were giving our kids a surprise trip to Florida,” Glanz said.

Through a search on Craiglist, she and her family found an amazing vacation rental at The Savoy on Palm in Sarasota. She reached out to the purported owner, mailed a contract and paid nearly $2,000. The family then flew down.

Vacation scam

Glanz had been told there was a lock box with a key in the front. When she arrived, there was no lock box.

“My daughter-in-law called one number, the guy answered, he was foreign. She said, ‘We’re at the location, we’re having trouble with the lock box, am I on the wrong side of the building?’ He hung up on her.”

Turns out, it was a scam. The unit was actually owned by somebody else. The ad was fake. Glanz said, “[I was] like ‘Oh my gosh! We’ve been ripped off. Now what are we gonna do for the next six days?”

Sarasota police are seeing more cases like this. “If it’s too good to be true, it usually is,” Police Sgt. John Todd said.

Vacation scam

Joseph Weeks is the concierge for The Savoy on Palm. “(These scams) look legit, but its only $150 for a 3,000-square foot condominium, fully furnished. It’s ridiculous. You’re never gonna find that anyplace, except in your dreams,” Weeks said.

Glanz said it appeared legitimate and she signed a contract that looked very realistic. “We still look at that contract and we’re like, ‘Wow, they’re professionals,’” she said.

8 On Your Side found the exact same unit Glanz tried to rent while searching online. We tried to contact the scammer offering the ad but the calls went to voicemail.

Police say these scam artists are often overseas and difficult to track down. So police say the best way to fight them is to be vigilant and to do your research before renting. One good tactic is to research rental property prices in the same area or neighborhood. If the price you’re looking at is too low, that’s a red flag.

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