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Topic: Fake Villa Websites

  1. #1
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    Default Fake Villa Websites

    I don't think this applies to Florida (as yet) but it is worth bearing in mind. Villa Plus obviously have an active stake in defending their territory, but I think the warning is still valid. See what you think:

    16 February 2017: Two fake villa booking websites are fleecing unsuspecting holiday-makers out of significant sums of money, the boss of leading holiday booking website, Villa Plus warned today.

    Consumers have been urged to be on the look-out for scam sites www.luxuryrentalsvilla.com and www.cycladesrentals.com after Villa Plus raised the alarm when they discovered their properties were being advertised on these fake web pages without the owners knowledge or consent. The villas are advertised with unlimited availability, cheap prices, and the only way to pay is through a wire transfer.

    Last year similar fake sites started to operate, affecting hundreds of customers across the UK. Every month holiday makers were falling prey to cyber criminals, with some people even turning up to villas they thought they had booked, only to find they hadnít. There is real concern holiday makers could be conned again this year as the fake sites begin to surface once more.

    Since August last year, legitimate holiday companies like Villa Plus have noticed a marked increase in fake sites. Once they are detected there is concern it can take months for web hosting companies to shut them down. There is also evidence to suggest that more people are flying to airports abroad only to find there arenít any holiday reps to meet them, and the villa they thought they had booked is a scam.

    Nick Cooper, Founder and Co-owner of Villa Plus said: ďScam websites like www.luxuryrentalsvilla.com and www.cycladesrentals.com are promoting villa rentals, where there is seemingly no intention of providing any service other than to steal customersí money and more must be done by those responsible for hosting the sites to shut them down. They are operating illegally, and it seems, with impunity. Our solicitors, Sherrards Solicitors LLP, have attempted to get the host of the sites in question to take action but they have unfortunately refused to do so in the absence of a Court Order.

    Some are very basic scams, others can be sophisticated, with websites having search options showing vast amounts of peak season availability, all with attractive professional looking images of villas, which have simply been copied from genuine websites.

    Once these fake websites have been discovered, it can take months for the webhosting company to shut the sites down. During this time pay per click advertising campaigns may still appear for quite a while.
    It has never been more important for the buyer to be aware when renting a villa and to take extra precautions and be super-vigilant.

  2. #2
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    Quite worrying. We booked our villa last year with VR360 homes but I always pay with a credit card for protection although that doesn't stop the problem if you get out there and find there is no villa!
    What is also not good is that once they are found to be fake it takes months to shut them down...

  3. #3
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    This issue has been around for some time now (there was something recently on Rip Off Britain) and Spain and the Canaries have seemed to be lucrative markets. While the internet is a great tool it is also fertile ground for scams and frauds. What I find very poor is the response of the hosting companies and firms like Facebook that fail to protect the consumer and are even hostile to taking action.

    The press were reporting earlier this week that AirBnB is being used for exactly the same type of scam that Simon has highlighted.

    I always book through a reputable site, eg HomeAway, but have an email dialogue direct with the owner, check on the internet for any other references to the owner or property, use Google Maps to check the hire property and the place were the owner lives (if possible), check on the local authority site in Florida that the property is registered to the owner and that the taxes are paid. I try to book property owned by UK based people, in the worst case scenario I could try to get my money back through the small claims court. And as Catlady says, pay by credit card, even if only the deposit.
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