Renter Fraud Alerts: Be on Guard

Updated 5/15/24

It's unfortunate but true that vacation rental scams are a reality, and staying vigilant is crucial when booking accommodations. Scammers are switching things up constantly so we need to always be on guard. Here's a breakdown of the most recent scams, along with tips to avoid falling victim to such schemes:

1. Hacker Hijacks Personal Email of Hosts:

  • Scammers gain unauthorized access to legitimate vacation rental hosts' PERSONAL email accounts outside of the vacation rental platform.
  • Scammers intercept communication between guests and hosts, often pressuring guests to book quickly.

To avoid this scam:

  • Be cautious of high-pressure emails: Don't rush into booking if you feel pressured.
  • Avoid clicking on suspicious links: Phishing emails may contain harmful links or attachments.
  • Report phishing emails: Notify the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) of any suspicious emails. Avoid clicking on links in high-pressure emails.
  • Verify email addresses: Only correspond with email addresses provided directly by the rental platform.
  • Contact the platform: If you're unsure, reach out to the rental platform to confirm the host's contact details.

Real-life example:

  • The hacker gained access to the host's personal email account.
  • A guest contacted a host through a rental platform's website. The email was sent to host’s personal email.
  • Hacker contacted the guest from a different email address (, claiming to be the host and saying they would like to correspond through this new email they use for bookings? Hmm.
  • The guest became suspicious and contacted the owner directly via the email and phone number the platform provided.
  • Others may not have been as fortunate, falling victim to the scam.
  • If the communication or payment request seems suspicious, it's likely a scam.

Actual email sent to guest from scammer:

---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Info Bookings <>
Date: Wed, Jan 10, 2024 at 7:31 AM
Subject: Inquiry from GUEST NAME: Jul 13, 2024 – Jul 20, 202

Not sure if my previous email was sent so I'm resending it:

Good morning GUEST NAME

After a talk with the owner the property is available for your requested dates and we can give you a discount.

The total price for your booking is $3,000.00 ( instead of $3,200.00 ) + $500.00 as fully refundable damage deposit, which will be returned to you at check-out, after the inspection of the property. This includes all taxes, utilities, wifi, telephone, meet & greet service and exit cleaning.

To secure the booking, you have the following options:

- 50% from the total booking price to be paid after signing the booking contract, plus the damage deposit;

- 50% from the total booking price to be paid no later than 2 weeks prior to your check-in.

For early bookings, the owner offers a 20% discount, but payment is required in full, by bank transfer, after signing the booking contract. If you choose the early booking option, your new total would be: $2,400.00 + $500.00 damage deposit.

If you cancel or amend your booking

- If you cancel with more than 2 weeks prior to your arrival, you will be refunded in full;

- If you cancel within 2 weeks prior to your arrival, you will be charged a cancellation fee of $300.00, as because of the cancellation, the property will not receive other guests.

Pandemic forced cancellation:

- In the event of a forced cancellation ,caused by a Pandemic ( eg: COVID-19 Pandemic ), the guest is entitled to a full refund, free of charge;

The cancellation can happen at any time without the owner charging the guest.

Let me know how you wish to proceed. No matter your choice, I will make sure that you will have the time of your life, while being our guest. In order to issue the booking contract and terms, I will require your full name and address.

Thank you, they put the host name here as if it was coming from her. It was not.

2.    Phishing Hack - how scammers hack personal emails.

You should always watch for phishing scams. With a phishing scam, a fraudster will send an email that looks like it might come from a platform property owner or manager. They ask for information or might ask you to click on a link to “fix a problem.” At this point, they can get your password or other sensitive information and access your account or use the information for identity theft. will never ask you to click a link to verify information.

Rather than clicking on links in emails, go straight to the platform website and check for messages there. You can also report the suspicious email to the platform immediately. 

Use a password manager: 

A password manager like NordPass is an easy way to enhance your online security. Your passwords, profiles, and credit cards are all protected with XChaCha20 encryption.  FACEBOOK DIRECT MESSAGE SCAMS

3.  Social Media Direct Message Scams
I see a NON Shore Summer Rentals renters being scammed by people claiming to be the property owners of vacation rentals that they post on Facebook several times a day. I also see many requests by renters looking for a rental home on Facebook and so called owners comment stating that they have the perfect home for them.

BE VERY CAREFUL as Facebook DOES NOT VERIFY property ownership on ANY rentals posted, we do!
Our owners have to go through a strict verification process to be approved on our website. Don't think that by looking them up on tax records, that is enough. It is not! These criminals also look up owners on the tax record sites and then impersonate them.

You should only rent through reputable vacation rental websites such as If you rent directly with one of our owners, you are exempt from paying the NJ Shore Tax if the owner owns less than 3 rental units, PLUS most of our owners do not charges made up booking fees. You can save hundreds, even thousands on our rentals. You work too hard for your money to throw it at greedy thieves and greedy public national websites.

4.    Additional Tips to Avoid Vacation Rental Scams:

  • Research the property: Look for reviews and verify the legitimacy of the rental.
  • Use reputable platforms: Stick to well-known vacation rental websites.
  • Trust your instincts: If something feels off or too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Confirm details: Before making any payments, confirm details directly with the rental platform/host.
  • By staying informed and cautious, you can reduce the risk of falling victim to vacation rental scams and ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

NEVER WIRE FUNDS VIA WESTERN UNION, MONEYGRAM or any other wire service – most likely, anyone who asks you to do so is a scammer.

SHORESUMMERRENTALS.COM IS NOT INVOLVED IN ANY TRANSACTION. We do not handle payments, guarantee transactions, provide escrow services, or offer "buyer protection" or "seller certification". It is the renter’s responsibility to use good judgment and rent at your own risk.

NEVER GIVE OUT FINANCIAL INFORMATION (bank account number, social security number, eBay/PayPal info, etc.)

TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE. If a rental seems suspicious or the offer is too good to be true, it probably is, please contact us for us to investigate before any money is exchanged.


FTC Video: How to report scams to the FTC

FTC toll free hotline: 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357)

FTC online complaint form

Canadian PhoneBusters hotline: 888-495-8501

Competition Bureau Canada: 800-348-5358

Internet Fraud Complaint Center