A few weeks before the summer vacation, some are still looking for their vacation home. But as always, many scams flourish on the internet.
Last February, an English couple traveled to the Pyrenees, to Bagnères-de-Luchon, convinced that they had rented accommodation for the holidays. When they arrive on site, the place is already occupied. This couple was the victim of an internet scam. Same thing for a family who had booked a rental via Le Bon coin. On the spot, they discovered that the house was already occupied and therefore remained homeless.
With the summer period coming, this type of disappointment linked to scams is proliferating. “Île de Ré, 50 m from the beach, 15 minutes on foot from the center of the village, four bedrooms, billiard room and of course heated swimming pool”… The photos that accompany this holiday home rental ad on Le Bon Coin invite everyone just traveling. The price: 1,750 euros per week in the middle of August, or 250 euros per night. On the platform of announcements between individuals, proposals like these flourish at this time of year. Indeed, on this date some latecomers rush to book their vacation spot. But on online platforms, it is not uncommon to come across a “fake” ad. Sophie is the “real” owner of this house on the Ile de Ré. Recently, in the middle of the Ascension weekend, she received a call from her tenant. “He tells me that a family with children from Hauts-de-France is in front of the gate of my house and claims to have reserved for a week”, says, still upset, this owner.
Quickly, she understands that the photos of her house have been stolen by scammers on the internet who then wrote a rental ad, necessarily false, to try to extract money from people. “My stomach is in knots just to think that my ad serves such malicious people, who make money on the backs of people who put aside the whole year to afford a week’s vacation” , confides Sophie, bitter. Since her announcement was usurped by scammers, she has received dozens of calls from disconcerted people from all over France. “In fact, my house, in normal times, I rent it for 3,800 euros per week in high season on an official site and there the scammers offer my accommodation at half price. On the internet, people see two ads so they don’t understand. Some think they have found the right deal but that almost never happens. Especially since the price that I apply in this period remains normal compared to the market”, slips Sophie again.
But what worries him even more is that he can’t do anything to stop it. “I reported the announcements several times and tried to join the platforms, I have no return,” she annoys.
She, like other owners, calls for vigilance and distrust. The ideal is therefore to keep a cool head with regard to the services offered and the price per night. It is also best to go to carry out these transactions through recognized sites that secure exchanges such as payments. As summarized by a specialist working for the site cybermalveillance.gouv.fr “where there is money there are crooks”. Without falling into general paranoia, mistrust is the mother of security.
On the investigator side, to get hold of these crooks who operate from their computer screens, the task is difficult. Tracking down these internet scammers is often perilous. “They use prepaid phones, bank accounts via online banks and often false names or impersonate identities, all of which therefore makes investigations complicated”, slips an investigator specializing in frauds and scams. However, victims can contact the cybermalveillance.gouv.fr website.
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Haute-Garonne: beware of holiday home rental scams on the internet
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