Vacation Rental Scams in Spain: What You Need to Know

Vacation rental scams are on the increase throughout Spain. Just a few years back, no one had ever heard of them. Since websites such as airbnb have become popular, so have scams. The most important rule is to do everything through reputed sites, and to never send any advance payments through your bank account or other forms of payment such as Bitcoin, which are hard to trace.

First of all, let's analyze the legal loopholes that make scamming easier in Spain. Usually, the biggest fraudsters operate on the internet from different parts of the world. To catch them, this requires the cooperation of different government bodies, including Interpol. This makes things slower.

Another reason the scammers can get away is the minimum amount that allows them not go to prison for this type of offense. Currently, in Spain it is 400 euros. Unprofessional fraudsters will scam under that limit, whereas the professional ones scam larger amounts, since they're located in different countries. The professional ones spend all the fraud money on plenty of advertising.

Finally, the cost of hiring a lawyer plus court charges, which can be between 200 to 300 euros, discourages most people. The worst part is that even after hiring a lawyer and going through court, there isn't a guarantee that the money will be recovered. 

Vacation Rental Scams: What to Look Out For

Here's a list of things to check out to detect vacation rental scams. Websites (like Airbnb) that advertise rental properties don't really bother to check whether the advertiser is the legitimate owner. Other websites are totally bogus sites.

  • Prices are always cheaper than the market, almost bargains too good to be true.
  • The fraudsters will ask for you to wire half the amount or the full amount.
  • Rental websites can be genuine looking, and advertise on Facebook and Google.
  • You may be sent a genuine-looking contract that can be several pages long.
  • Scammers will leave their e-mail and Skype contact details, and rarely their phone numbers.
  • Some fraudsters from Eastern Europe have poor English skills.

Tips to Detect Vacation Rental Scams

Check the image of the property. To do this, save it on your computer or phone, and then go to Google, and do an image search of it. You will need to upload this image to Google. This search engine will show you where else you can find the same image. 

  1. Look for duplicate ads and check the differences.
  2. Look for specific locations of the rental, not just a general area.
  3. Does the name of the owners change in the different advertisements? That's clearly a red flag.
  4. Make sure the registration number is there. 

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