Seniors should be skeptical of eye-catching photos of luxurious vacation properties posted online by scammers looking to collect a “security deposit” and disappear, the District Attorney’s Office warned. Bogus vacation rentals are often advertised on classified ad websites. Fake landlords collect upfront “security deposits” and may also defraud seniors by obtaining personal information, stealing their identities and accessing their financial accounts.
Victims may be unaware that they’ve been cheated until weeks later, when they arrive at their vacation destination only to find they’ve been had, prosecutors said.
The District Attorney’s Office offered several tips to avoid being bilked:
• Don’t rely on photos. Use a web service to make sure the property you hope to rent is at the address advertised
• Always make purchases with a check or credit card; never use cash or non-returnable cash transfers
• Look for reviews and feedback from previous renters online and ask questions of other renters if possible
• Be suspicious if the would-be landlord only wants to communicate through text messages.
For more information on scams that target seniors, go to the Elder Abuse-Financial Fraud pages of the District Attorney’s website at http://da.lacounty.gov. Anyone victimized by a scam may contact the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs at (800) 593-8222 or online at http://dcba.lacounty.gov.