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VRBO scammed. Hawaii VRBO listings have been phished.

Denver
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138 posts
18 reviews
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VRBO scammed. Hawaii VRBO listings have been phished.

I just got 2 urgent notices from VRBO indicating that TWO of the properties I directly inquiried and received email correspondence from have been phished! They said we were likely NOT corresponding with the owners - and that if we've sent moneys (which we have) we might be in trouble (and BTW, if you didn't purchase our insurance, you're out of luck). The number they gave me to contact the owner of the property is FULL, and they left no other way to contact them. Obviously, if I received a notice from 2 of the places I submited an inquiry, I am sure there are many others that have been impacted (it can't be just a coincidence that only the properties I was interested in were phished). I highly recommend you do ABSOLUTELY no business via VRBO (EXCEPT VIA CREDIT CARD) until they can address such an EGREGIOUS security issue (I completed an email inquiry DIRECTLY on VRBO - I didn't click a link from another site). Here are the 2 messages I received below. I am guessing there are more to come, since I submitted inquiries on several properties.

I will sue them for lack of security before I eat the deposit I supposedly sent (with a rental contract no less).

-----Original Message-----

From: VRBO Customer Support [mailto:support-cs@vrbo.com]

Sent: Thursday, July 12, 2012 12:14 PM

Subject: Urgent Notice – Listing # 318748 (Case n° 04906705) – PLEASE READ ref:_00D708VtP._50070N2MbI:ref

Website: VRBO.com, Listing number: 318748

Description: Headline: Secret Cove Villa on a Spectacular Secluded Beach!

Location: Anahola, HI

Tel #: (808) 346-5124 (Hawaii, USA)

Dear Traveler,

You recently sent an inquiry for the property referenced above. First, thank you for using our site. Unfortunately, we have reason to believe that the owner or property manager may have unknowingly and inadvertently had their email account compromised.

What this means for you specifically is that there’s a chance someone other than the actual owner or manager for the property may have viewed your inquiry and contacted you. This issue is commonly referred to as internet phishing. When we learned of this potential issue, as a precaution to you our traveler and also to protect our vacation property owner we temporarily deactivated this listing. We are currently in the process of working closely with the owner or property manager to assist with revising their account with us and reinstating this listing.

How this impacts you:

*If you sent money to book this property, you should contact the owner or property manager by calling the phone number included at the top of this message. We recommend that you do not communicate with the owner via email until the listing has been reinstated.

*If you have not yet sent money but are still interested in booking this property, please wait to receive an additional notification from us that the listing has been reinstated with a revised account. At that time, you will be able to use our inquiry form to again contact the vacation rental owner or property manager. Also, be sure to follow the directions for paying safely found on your inquiry confirmation email and at our security center:

www.homeaway.com/info/security?Travelers

Please be advised that at this time, the rental property described in the listing is not eligible for participation in the Carefree Rental Guarantee program. If you have already purchased the Guarantee prior to this notice, please let us know.

HomeAway is working hard on HomeAway Secure Communication, a new system that will add heightened protection to correspondence between vacation rental owners, property managers, and travelers. Learn more here:

…homeaway.com/blogs/…phighting-phishing

Please feel free to contact us should you have any questions.

Kind regards,

VRBO.com Trust and Security

-----Original Message-----

From: VRBO Customer Support [mailto:support-cs@vrbo.com]

Sent: Thursday, July 12, 2012 10:14 AM

Subject: Urgent Notice – Listing # 107578 (Case n° 04904579) – PLEASE READ ref:_00D708VtP._50070N2Kv3:ref

Website: VRBO.com, Listing number: 107578

Description: Headline: "Bali Hai Calls in This Oceanfront Luxury Penthouse with ~A/C~"

Location: Kauai, Hawaii

Owner or Manager Phone: 866-922-5642

Dear Traveler,

You recently sent an inquiry for the property referenced above. We had reason to believe that the owner or property manager for this property may have unknowingly and inadvertently had their email account compromised. This issue is commonly referred to as internet phishing. It is possible that you may have been communicating with someone other than the actual owner or manager. When we learned of this potential issue, as a precaution to you our traveler and also to protect our vacation rental owner, we temporarily deactivated this listing. We have been working very closely with the owner or property manager to assist them in revising their account with us and reinstating this listing.

This property has been reinstated and is back online. It can be found by entering the vacation rental listing number in the search box on the homepage. If you are still interested in this property, or if you have booked this property, please contact this owner or property manager by calling the phone number on their listing or through the online inquiry form which will route your communication to the revised email address.

Please refer to your inquiry confirmation email to read our instructions for how you can protect your vacation rental payments. Always call the phone number displayed on the listing prior to making any payment to confirm payment details. We also advise against sending any payment details (such as credit card information) by email. Our security center also has best practices for renting safely:

www.homeaway.com/info/security?Travelers

If you have not already purchased the Carefree Rental Guarantee, please be advised that payments made before the date of this notice for the rental property are not eligible for protection. If you are interested in purchasing the Carefree Rental Guarantee for additional protection, only registrations for payments made after the date of this notice are allowed. We will inform you if the eligibility requirements change for this property.

Please feel free to contact us should you have any questions.

Kind regards,

VRBO.com Trust and Security

-----------------------------------------

California
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38,438 posts
122 reviews
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1. Re: VRBO scammed. Hawaii VRBO listings have been phished.

Wow! I see this frequently on inquiries and have gotten pretty good at spotting them. This is the first time I have heard about this on VRBO. Can you contract the owner to see if it was compromised?

Edited: 12 July 2012, 21:40
Denver
Level Contributor
138 posts
18 reviews
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2. Re: VRBO scammed. Hawaii VRBO listings have been phished.

their mailbox is full. This is unacceptable. How can I send an email via VRBO and have it go to someone else? !! All the stuff on their website is about getting scammed by the renter themselves (property is not as disclosed, double bookings, etc - NOT about their lack of site security). There was a rental contract that was consistent with all the details associated with this site (check in/check out times), no typos, professional, etc. I will sue for sure.

Atwater
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18 posts
5 reviews
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3. Re: VRBO scammed. Hawaii VRBO listings have been phished.

I saw that this had happened with the company homeaway before. It may be archived or just google it. Sorry that happened. Not cool.

Frisco, Texas
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1,594 posts
56 reviews
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4. Re: VRBO scammed. Hawaii VRBO listings have been phished.

It said you MAY have been communicating with someone other than the owner. If everything was very professionally done, you may be ok and actually been communicating with the actual owner.

Keep the forum informed, as many use vrbo.

La Mirada...
Destination Expert
for Kauai
Level Contributor
16,792 posts
136 reviews
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5. Re: VRBO scammed. Hawaii VRBO listings have been phished.

The 866-922-5642 number is to Ahh-Aloha:

http://www.kauai-vacations-ahh.com/

Edited: 12 July 2012, 22:18
Denver
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138 posts
18 reviews
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6. Re: VRBO scammed. Hawaii VRBO listings have been phished.

I didn't go through that one. I actually did leave a V.M. for them and never heard back. The one I am worried about is Secret Cove Villa. the number that was posted has a FULL voicemail.

If this was a scam, the person is REALLY good. No hard sell. I booked this after 1 month of exchanging emails back and forth, and getting all the specifics, reviewing the contract, etc. This is NO small operation if so, b/c they are good (and new every single detail about the property, which I confirmed through 3rd party reviews and pics of the site). I am actually reaching out to a former resident to find out how they booked and if they can send me any former correpondence to see if the writing style is similar. I can't REACH anyone, that is the problem and they say not to email.

Wells Fargo was a joke. They don't even have an account fraud department. Meaning: you could tell them that this account with this account number is being used fraudently, they say "not our problem to investigate". Because the gov't puts them on the hook for CC fraud, they are all over that.

However, there is an FBI site (www.ic3.gov). They say if enough people defrauded by VRBO via phishing submit a claim, they might start an investigation. If nothing else, we might be able to get a class action suit against VRBO (they are based in Austin) for not adoping best practices in secure communication channels between the owner and the customer, given that this happned. It happened to TWO of the properties I submitted (out of a total of 4 inquiries I made, that's 50% of my inquiries were phished??). I submitted an inquiry DIRECTLY through VRBO, not through some other source.

San Diego...
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4,027 posts
12 reviews
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7. Re: VRBO scammed. Hawaii VRBO listings have been phished.

It probably has a full mailbox because everyone else is doing the same as you...calling them and leaving voicemails. Also it reads "MAY" not that your emails have absolutely been phished.

Take a breather for a minute.

Edited: 12 July 2012, 22:32
Denver
Destination Expert
for Poipu
Level Contributor
3,420 posts
2 reviews
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8. Re: VRBO scammed. Hawaii VRBO listings have been phished.

Holy cow - I JUST read about this scam last night in Christopher Elliot's column in NatGeo Traveler - how upsetting!

I agree with Pirates, though - take a deep breath, start working on your back-up plan in the chance that those reservations are not honored, and wait until you hear back from the owner.

Keep us posted (and yes, Wells Fargo is totally worthless).

Denver
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138 posts
18 reviews
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9. Re: VRBO scammed. Hawaii VRBO listings have been phished.

I would be shocked if I wasn't scammed. Up through the reservation and even after, everything seemed totally 100% kosher (even the rental agreement). However, they didn't update the calendar on the site for my booking- so I emailed again - and the person responded immediately and said - everything is 100% confirmed, thely'll do it shortly, but still no update to the calendar. I know everyone says to take a deep breath, but if it were your money, would you? If it is a scam, this person has done it before and will continue doing it until caught. VRBO should employ a sophisticated hacker to try to track down these folks. shouldn't be too hard b/c there are bank account's opened with U.S. banks, and emails that although may wind around the world, have to end up with an native english speaker somewhere. Nobody should be scammed in this fashion in this day and age. I am sure VRBO can afford to hire a hacker that is far better than your average fraudster.

La Mirada...
Destination Expert
for Kauai
Level Contributor
16,792 posts
136 reviews
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10. Re: VRBO scammed. Hawaii VRBO listings have been phished.

The Secret Cove Villa listing is active again - I hoping that's a good sign for you and all is OK.

3Chihuahuas