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Archive for March, 2016|Monthly archive page

Shore Dreams Vacation Rentals Impersonation Scam – Tips from CEO

In Craigslist Scams on March 12, 2016 at 1:09 am

A Craigslist Vacation Rental Scam Investigation as Told by CEO of Shore Dreams Vacation Rentals, Renata Circeo-Loudon.

Every season, our vacation rental management company, Shore Dreams Vacation Rentals receives calls from travelers, who had booked with another “owner”, desperate to find a rental because the one they rented does not exist or is booked already (by the legitimate owner, most likely). They are stranded, with high expectations and huge disappointments, as well as anger for being scammed on a “vacations by owner” website or Craigslist.

Furthermore, ABC News recently ran a story on 20/20 outlining how vacation rental scams or ripoffs are becoming more common.

Shore Dreams Vacation Rentals Issues Vacation Scam AlertIn most cases, the money was wired to a foreign bank account, deposited directly at the Craigslist SCAMMER bank or money transfer company never to be seen again. A credit card was never used. These vacationers are tired, out of money and homeless at the moment and looking for a solution. We have helped guests in some cases and in others if we are sold out, we suggest a hotel as a quick fix.

Regardless, as a professional vacation rental company manager and a vacation rental owner, I cannot imagine how a guest must feel in this situation. However, just like the internet is called “The Wild Wild West” of our time, then the folks “riding the horses looking for a vacation ranch” have to look out!

The Scam- The Craigslist Story

A potential guest responding to a Vacation Rental Advertisement sent an email inquiring about a property they found on Craigslist:

“Hello, I am inquiring to see if a condo you have is for rent Thursday afternoon to Sunday morning? We are looking last minute for a soccer tournament.”

What follows is an elaborate chain of emails from a “Property Manager” that outlines the fees, bank account deposit information, the cancellation policy and a contract attachment. This is an actually response from someone misrepresenting one of our properties:

“Attached, you will find the booking terms and agreement form. Make your payment to our account officer Bank details listed below and the security fee through Bank deposit which bring the initial total deposit of $485.

Wells Fargo
Account No: 1893860757
Routing No: 124002971
Checking.
Account Name: Catherine Flynn”

Get back with the payment information scan copy given to you while payment is transferred so i can prepare your receipt asap, please remember to print and scan or just take a clear pictures of the form once is filled with clear camera phone and attach it back here along with payment receipt also have a copy to come along with the payment receipt that i will attach and forward to you after confirmation. Once your payment is confirmed, you’ll receive your receipt immediately to confirm your reservation for your chosen date.

Thanks for making reservation with us.

Here is my mobile number XXX-XXX-XXXX call or text if needed and I can also call you if there is any information or text if necessary.”

What does NOT follow is a bona fide reservation at the vacation home of your dreams.

You have been SCAMMED!

You Have Paid The Money – Now What?

In this case, the victim was a member of the Air Force on official duty for a soccer tournament. Yes, the SCAMMER accepted federal funds for this SCAM! There seems to be no limit to what they will do. The victim wired the funds to the Wells Fargo account from a Federal Credit Union and was satisfied everything was above board.

A couple of days before the victim was to arrive at the vacation home that he thought he rented, he realized that he had not received any follow up information and decided to Google the place he had rented for $95 a night.

It was a real vacation home, alright, however the price on our website was over $450 a night and the home was rented solid for the whole summer.

He finally reached us a day before his arrival and was told that he had been SCAMMED.

So What Did We Do?

Well we thought we would take the logical and methodical route by doing the following:

  • Clicked on Prohibited box on the numerous Craigslist Ads for this property which were listed as far as South Florida (It is located in the Destin Florida Area).
  • Sent an email to [email protected] with the listing number outlining the SCAM.
  • Called the local police department where the property was located and filed a complaint.
  • Contacted the bank (Wells Fargo, in this instance) that the money was deposited into or requested to be deposited into and reported Fraud.
  • Filed a report with the Internet Crimes Website at http://complaint.ic3.gov and updated it with more information as we engaged with the SCAMMER.
  • Looked up the phone number provided by the SCAMMER and found the provider and filed a complaint.
  • Found Catherin Flynn. Called her place of employment in the Hotel Business and reported her activities.
  • Filed a complaint with the local FBI division in the city in which she was employed.
  • Filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission www.consumer.ftc.gov.
  • Continued to get emails from other victims and provided updates to Craigslist and other cases.
  • The victim Filed a Fraud complaint with the Federal Credit Union which then contacted Wells Fargo.

Thanks Federal Trade Commission, FBI, Craiglist et. al

What could we do collectively to stop this SCAMMER and get his money back, get our rental off of Craiglist and get this person prosecuted?

The truth, essentially is nothing…

Fake Scam ad on Craigslist claiming to be Shore Dreams Vacation Rentals

Fake Scam ad on Craigslist claiming to be Shore Dreams Vacation Rentals

Craigslist did flag the ad and it was taken down only to be put up again a few days later. Almost a year later the same ad has been reposted about 10 times and is running as I write this.

After numerous phone calls to Wells Fargo, they did finally close the account and the SCAMMER could not believe such a suspicious aggressive move! Read on:

“Subject: Wells Fargo Fraud Account Damaged You Just Caused
To: XXXXXXXXXXX

Dear Kelly Redmon,
I believe you don’t know me, and so as well I don’t know you. My name
is Catherine Flynn,  I work for Seong Jo, I’m his Personal Assistant
for his rental properties. We live in different state, I live in Utah,
he lives in California. We communicate through email, phone, and Yahoo
Messenger for any transaction and business. I just want to let you
know I was the one who received the deposit of $485 to my Wells Fargo
Account Routing Number: 124002971 Account No: 1893860757.
I work at Hampton Inn & Suites at 1345 S Foothill Dr, Salt Lake City,
UT 84108. I usually get paid direct deposit to my Wells Fargo Checking
account every other Friday. Yesterday, Friday, Jul 17, 2015 was my pay
direct deposited to my account. This morning my money was gone. I
called the bank and told them what’s going on. All my transactions
were/are hold due to fraud because of the transaction of $485 and that
my account was accused of being Rental Properties Fraudd, for this
case, my bank account in Wells Fargo both Checking and Savings cannot
be touched nor get any of my actual money I have in there until
Wednesday. In this case, I don’t have money to go through for the next
4-5 days.
I understand of how many scammers can be out there especially on
Craiglist and online, but if you feel like that you’re not comfortable
to do what you just did, then I supposed you should not be doing it
anyway. I am not a scammer! I am not a fraud! I will not take any
money from other people without me earning it! I didn’t withdraw your
$485 money, I was waiting for the next instructions to do after the
money deposited on my account, until it was taken out from my account.
Due to your suspicious aggressive move for accusing my account being a
fraud, my Wells Fargo account is subject to FORCLOSED and can never
open an account from them ever again! Plus a fraud attach to my Social
Security.  And thanks to you for all of that!
I wish you will never get any of these one day.”

Oh the Whomanity! (Grinch That Stole Christmas, for those of you wondering…)

Our Air Force victim did get his money back, but of course, it was Federal Funds. Our other victims were not so lucky and gave up after no cooperation from local, state and federal officials.

We don’t know what happened to Catherine Flynn, besides what she said in the email response, however her boss at the Hampton Inn & Suites acted like the fraud committed on his premises was no big deal.

This is what we got from the Federal Trade Commission:

Thank you for contacting the Federal Trade Commission. We have reviewed your complaint and have determined that the following information may assist you.
10 Ways to Avoid Fraud – http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0060-10-ways-avoid-fraud

Thanks FTC! That really helps us keep our personal vacation home from being put on Craigslist to be used as a SCAM. NOT!!!!

Regardless of the countless hours and frustrating phone calls trying to save guests from Vacation Rental Scams, it will all be worth it if it saves one guest from losing money, sleep and their dream of a great vacation!

For Vacation Rental Owners, you have no rights in regards to a Craigslist SCAM. Set up a Google Alert for your property that goes something like, “Sea Dunes Penthouse Craigslist” and hope you are made aware of the SCAM before someone shows up knocking on your vacation rental door when there is a legitimate guest inside.

By the way, the real Sea Dunes 604 is a beautiful property with many great reviews and hundreds of happy guests and can be booked at www.shoredreams.net or by calling 855-550-8005 press 2.

And just for a disclaimer, I am the author of this article, the owner of Shore Dreams Vacation Rentals and the owner of Sea Dunes 604 Penthouse. Go Figure….

Respectfully submitted by Renata Circeo-Loudon. CEO Shore Dreams Vacation Rentals

 

SHAME: Evan Moorhead Resorts to Despicable Smear Campaign in Brisbane

In Political Smear Campaigns on March 5, 2016 at 12:36 pm
Evan Moorhead ALP Labour Party Despicable Smear Campaign Tactics

Evan Moorhead ALP Brisbane Labour Party Despicable Smear Campaign Tactics

I’ve been out of Australia for almost 20 years, is wonderful to be back. However, I was disgusted to find Evan Moorhead’s junk mail in my letter box, despite the unambiguous “NO JUNK MAIL” sign above the slot. It is probably the most despicable act of blatant political smear campaigning I have ever seen firsthand, and so close to home.

On the front of this postcard, there is a head shot of a man who I am assuming is “Graham Quirk”, and the following text:

“What has Graeme Quirk done to ease congestion?”

On the flip-side of the postcard, it reads as follows:

“After five years as Lord Mayor what has Graeme Quirk done to his congestion?

  1. Cut $20 million from buses and ferries.
  2. Committed $650 million for a Kingsford Smith upgrade that will save 60 seconds in travel time. (City projects office – BCC)
  3. Not sure yet
  4. Still thinking about this one
  5. Give him a few minutes”

I’m tempted to leave this post to speak for itself, any thinking person who reads this rhetorical bluster will see that is replete with intellectually dishonest content, including the following:

The question “What has Graeme Quirk done to ease congestion?” is not an honest question, it is a dishonest premise for dishonest  and unsupported conclusions. For a start, there were only two answers offered, but I’m sure there are many more answers to the question, some good, and some likely bad, the logical fallacy used here is called ‘Cherry Picking’. But rather than answering the question honestly, 60% of the space reserved to print answers, was used for incredibly childish hyperbole.

Junk-mailWhen I first read the post card, I had to read it over several more times, because I could not grasp these three lines of text meant.  The reason that I did not get it was because I thought I was reading a brochure, that had been written by a grown up! Then the pin dropped, this grown-up politician was recycling cliché-insults, directly from ninth-grade banter in a school playground. Not just one jab, but three of them in a row.

All three of these answers are really poor disguises for the logical fallacy of  “Thought Terminating Cliché”.  The quotes “Not sure yet”, “still thinking about this one”, andGive him a few minutes”, are apparently the fruit of Evan Moorhead’s  heart and intellect. He is trying to convey the message that “Graham Quirk is an idiot”.  As I sit here and write my response, I can actually see in my minds eye, Evan Morehead sitting behind his keyboard and chuckling as he relives with pride, some pathetic victory he had many years ago, over some skinny, introverted and awkward kid in high school.  What makes this image worse is that other members of his party approved the printing and delivery expense. I am sure all of them where high fiving, beer ponging and chuckle along with Evan. Please, grow up! and you want us to entrust our beautiful city to you?

Side note: Am I slipping into hypocrisy with these last few sentences? I am cringing with anger at this politician who I’ve never heard of before.

Mr. Evan Moorhead, as grandson of a great former Brisbane Lord Mayor, Frank Edward Roberts, who was also a Labour Party champion, you disgust me.

DISCLOSURE: until I received this postcard and did some research, I had no idea who Evan Moorhead  or Graham Quirk were (apparently the latter is our Lord Mayor?), or to which parties they were affiliated, if any. I have not voted in the 20 years since I’ve been abroad, if this is the state of Brisbane politics, and if I’m legally obligated to vote, then I will probably need to take a shower afterwards. I’m not a member of any political party, and my leaning is normally towards rational independents who demonstrate restraint in their speech, love in their heart, and the best interests of individual constituents, as opposed to a Party, lobbyists, or for that matter The State.  Furthermore, to my knowledge I’ve never read or heard any political statements from Graeme Quirk, Maybe he is just as bad as Moorhead? I would urge readers to thoroughly research any candidate for whom they are considering for their valuable vote. Furthermore, it would be a mistake to think that by criticizing Evan Moorhead, I’m endorsing Graeme Quirk. On the contrary, I am endorsing critical thinking, and developing a strong, intellectual self-defense system to protect you and your children against mainstream media, manipulated search engine results, and any individual or organization who would try to manipulate you, or your vote, with their disingenuous words.