by Eric Heinz
eheinz@tahoedailytribune.com

Back to: Crime News
August 14, 2013
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Additional families report being hit by vacation rental scam

After news that three families were victims of a vacation rental scam was published, South Lake Tahoe Police Chief Brian Uhler said a few more families recently reported they experienced similar grifts.

The police department reported Aug. 9 that people are being swindled through false vacation rental advertisements on the Internet. The scam targeted people by asking for their bank account number and other forms of payment through a rental agreement. When the vacationers or renters showed up to the location, they came to realize their agreement was fraudulent.

Uhler said the police department is working with other state agencies and sources to try to put an end to the thefts. The chief also said the officers working the case were “making progress” and “getting some warrants” in order to obtain more information.

“It takes a little time,” Uhler said in regard to obtaining the warrants across state lines. “I talked to the officer who is handling the case, and he indicated he is making progress. Colorado and Texas and other agencies have helped. There are other cities that have had other scams occurring. This mode of ripoff is not unique to South Lake Tahoe.”

One of the deposits stolen from a guest was at least $1,000, Uhler said.

“It’s not an isolated incident,” Uhler said. “They are piggy-backing on to the rental sites and listing themselves. Basically they made a copy on vacation home rentals websites and are substituting their information.”

Thieves use multiple names that can be construed as male or female, according to the police department. The thieves have used accounts in multiple states. The cell phone number listed on the rental agreements is 940-238-4477, which has been noted as a “common denominator” among the false agreements, the news release stated.

Police are asking vacation home owners and local rental companies to check for suspicious activity involving their property websites. Victims of the scam can contact Officer Mark Hounsell at 530-542-6100.


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The Record Courier Updated Aug 23, 2013 11:53AM Published Aug 14, 2013 01:20PM Copyright 2013 The Record Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.