How to prevent fraudulent rentals of your vacant properties

Real Estate Agent with Resort and Second-Home Specialist REALTOR Broker #21673

See the video at the end for ways to prevent this fraud        Image credit: digitalart,

Are you planning a vacation over the holidays or maybe a fun getaway for spring break?

Beware of possible scams that can ruin a nice vacation. You don't want to end up at the door of your vacation rental only to discover it really isn't a rental.

It's good practice to monitor your vacant listings and if you'll be gone be sure to monitor your own house too. It just might show up as a rental on one of those vacation rental sites.

Sometimes popular search sites have false information and may show a property offered for rent or for sale that is actually a scam. Your house or one of your vacant listings could be vulnerable to this kind of fraud, especially if it's located in a popular vacation area. 

Rental and sales scams are a risk for any vacant property. I'm not implying that these scams are common but they do happen and it's easy to fall into the trap. The problem has hit close to home for some of us. A few months ago Andrea Swiedler shared her experience of a listing being hijacked (see her blog on March 16, 2015). 

A rental scam almost caught one of my neighbors last year. They were on a long vacation and their property was listed on CraigsList as a rental. People often rent their homes here, both short and long term, so there was nothing unusual about seeing an ad for the rental. But this rental was listed with some odd terms, telling prospective renters to do a drive-by viewing and requiring the deposit be sent to an oddly named PayPal account. This ad was not placed by the owners. They had no idea their home was showing up on CraigsList! 

Fortunately a neighbor noticed one couple who were checking out the vacant house, talked to them and then immediately called the owners and discovered the scam. This house was only vacant because the owners were on a long trip abroad. The police believe someone saw their Facebook posts and realized their house was vacant for a couple of months. 

The following video was made in 2013 by NAR's Risk Management Committee and shows you a few methods to set up alerts so you receive notification when Internet ads for any address are posted on CraigsList or other sites.

It's easy to follow any of the methods shown here to add protection for your listings and any vacant home, including your own. 

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Please call or email me if you are considering selling or buying a property on Kauai. I work with a sales team that are experts at helping you make the right move!


Kathleen Luiten, REALTOR Broker                                                                         


CENTURY 21 All Islands



Don't just dream, call Kathleen!


Comments (8)

Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Kathleen- you brought up a good point and another good reason to watch what you post on Facebook.  It's a good thing your neighbor was watching out for the other neighbors.  

Dec 18, 2015 10:33 AM
Bob Crane
Woodland Management Service / Woodland Real Estate, KW Diversified - Stevens Point, WI
Forestland Experts! 715-204-9671

Part of the reason why I always have part of my crew sticking close to home to keep an eye on things.


Dec 18, 2015 11:00 AM
Gita Bantwal
RE/MAX Centre Realtors - Warwick, PA
REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel

Thank you for the reminder. I will check out the video. 

Dec 18, 2015 08:29 PM
Debbie Reynolds, C21 Platinum Properties
Platinum Properties- (931)771-9070 - Clarksville, TN
The Dedicated Clarksville TN Realtor-(931)320-6730

I have had this happen to me and though nobody was scammed in the end, they got very close. The renter said they thought it sounded too good to be true.

Dec 20, 2015 10:25 AM
Noah Seidenberg
Coldwell Banker - Evanston, IL
Chicagoland and Suburbs (800) 858-7917

Kathleen I have seen this scam in action in my area.

Dec 20, 2015 11:47 AM
Jennifer Fivelsdal
JFIVE Home Realty LLC | 845-758-6842|162 Deer Run Rd Red Hook NY 12571 - Rhinebeck, NY
Mid Hudson Valley real estate connection

Kathleen this is becoming more frequent.   The steps outlined in the video will certainly  help to combat these scams.

Thanks for sharing.

Dec 20, 2015 02:06 PM
Kathryn .
Rentec Direct - Grants Pass, OR
Rentec Direct

Thank you for that video I actually never seen those helpful tips before. 

Dec 22, 2015 01:35 AM
Sandy Padula & Norm Padula, JD, GRI
HomeSmart Realty West & Florida Realty Investments - , CA
Presence, Persistence & Perseverance

Kathleen Luiten These scenarios make me livid and when I become Emperor of the World, these scammers will be hung from the nearest lamp pole when caught. Merry Christmas from the Emperor!

Dec 22, 2015 01:58 AM