and Video Courtesy of Channel 8
By Peter Bernard
February 19, 2016
CLEARWATER BEACH -- If you think you’re booking your
perfect vacation rental online, watch out. You might end up with no
place to stay.
Clearwater Beach is a vacationer’s dream. There are
miles of powdery white sand, gentle surf and killer views of the Gulf.
A check of Craig’s List might bring
an ad for a condo on Island Estates. But if you check
closely, you might discover the ad is from an old
listing. The listing is from a sale that occurred years
The new version of the listing was posted by a scammer.
“People have shown up twice at our door thinking that
they’ve rented the place. And we tell them,
unfortunately, they’ve just been defrauded,” said a
condo owner. The owner asked News Channel 8 not to use
As spring break approaches, Clearwater police are seeing the condo scam
grow. “From about January through June, I see anywhere from 15 to 30
cases a month of people sending their money to people that they met on
Craig’s List,” Det. Rob Lazzaro said.
The scammers use dating web sites to funnel cash to
their overseas locations.
|The Island Estates condo owner posted
a notice on his door, warning others. When a recent victim
called him, he had to lay out the truth.
”He said, ‘Gee, I couldn’t believe that this house was for
rent for so cheap,'” the owner recalled.
Now, that condo owner scans Craig’s List every other day
looking for his residence. He posted a listing of his own –
as a warning. “And I figure that’s the only way to really
stop it is to stop the money flow,” he said.
Many places along the beach don’t even offer a weekly
rate. They can’t. It’s against the law.
A check with management before you send money could save you a whole lot