A group of friends originally from Zacatecas planned a dream vacation in Puerto Vallarta, through Facebook they found the publication of a house with a pool, gym, and near the beach, it seemed the ideal space.
“We saw on social networks that they were advertising a house, we did not see anything unusual in the accommodation, we talked to the people in charge and they told us that it was 5,000 pesos per night,” said Javier Trinidad, the victim of fraud.
In the same publication, a recently created Facebook profile gives an excellent review and recommends the vacation rental.
To confirm the reservation, the alleged owner asked them to sign a contract and make two payments of 7,500 pesos, the first being due at the time for the deposit, which they paid, and one day before the trip he disappeared and blocked the guests on Facebook and Whatsapp.
“The person communicates asking us for the total payment to have the keys to the house ready, personal security and everything that this house offers, after making the deposit the person blocked us, we were communicating with the other members of the group but we all blocked,” added the victim.
The alleged owners communicate from a telephone number, the account to which they request the deposit is in the name of José Galván and the house they claim to rent is in the Av. Paseo de la Marina Norte #540 in Vallarta. The address belongs to the gated community of Quinta Esmeralda in Marina Vallarta, at the Marina Vallarta Golf Club.
The group of friends from Zacatecas filed a collective complaint with the Jalisco Prosecutor’s Office for fraud. An investigation is underway to determine the facts and José Galván
Protect yourself against vacation rental scams
If you plan to make online reservations for a vacation rental for an upcoming holiday, there are things you can do to protect yourself so your dream vacation doesn’t end up being a nightmare.
Scams target people of all backgrounds, ages, and income levels. There’s no one group of people who are more likely to become a victim of a scam, all of us may be vulnerable to a scam at some time.
Scams succeed because they look like the real thing and catch you off guard when you’re not expecting it. Scammers are getting smarter and taking advantage of new technology, new products or services, and major events to create believable stories that will convince you to give them your money or personal details. And Facebook is a scammer’s choice.
Beware of offers that seem too good to be true, and always use an online booking service that you know and trust, never make your reservations or payments through someone you only know from Facebook. There are many vacation rental companies, like VRBO by Expedia, you can find almost every vacation rental on that website, and you get the guarantee and protection from one of the internet’s largest travel booking companies, but you still get to deal directly with the owner (VRBO – Vacation Rental by Owner).
Never transfer bank funds or pay using a cash deposit. Always use a credit card, at least there is a chance to dispute your charges. And while many people have trust issues using PayPal, mostly because they don’t understand the system, PayPal is also a great option for payment online because they do offer payment protection and a quick and easy way to open a dispute if you have been scammed and made a payment through their company.
Beware of the pressure sales. The rental owners who tell you that you need to make the deposit fast because someone else is also interested on the same dates, or if you pay fast they will give you a discount. Scammers always fast talk to pressure you into making a payment without the time to think or research the information they have given you.
Remember, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Only use reservation systems that will guarantee your payment and booking or a payment solution that will allow you to dispute your payment, never use cash.
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