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South Lake Tahoe Police caution against vacation rental scam

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Updated: 8/09/2013 5:43 pm
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. (KRNV & MyNews4.com) -- The South Lake Tahoe Police Department is advising vacation home owners, rental companies, and future visitors to the area of an active scam over the internet through vacation rental websites.

At least three families have been victimized by this scam recently, and police suspect there might be more victims of this crime that have yet to be reported.

The scam involves false postings on legitimate vacation rental websites advertising rental properties available in South Lake Tahoe. These postings are in legitimate websites alongside legitimate postings and include photographs of residences in the area, which make the postings appear authentic.

Typically a victim contacts the suspect(s) via email through such a website, and the suspect emails realistic appearing rental agreements with an out of state bank account number, and routing number for the victim to send money. The suspect then has the victim wire transfer the money (making it non-refundable to the victim by a bank). The victim then sends the money unknowingly to the suspect(s), thinking they have a reservation for the property. They later arrive at their destination to discover that the transaction was fraudulent and they have been scammed out of their money.

The thieves have used accounts in multiple states and have used different names, both male and female. One common denominator is that a cell phone number of (940) 238-4477 is listed on the rental agreement.

The SLTPD is asking vacation home owners, and local rental companies to monitor these websites for any fraudulent activity involving their properties. If any visitors to the Lake Tahoe area are a victim of these suspect(s) to please contact Officer Mark Hounsell of the SLTPD at (530) 542-6100.

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