Rental scam ruins vacation in Naples

NAPLES, Fla. - A woman was scammed out of a vacation rental home this weekend, according to a Naples Police report. The woman told officers she found the home at Tarpon Road in the Royal Harbour neighborhood listed on Craigslist, and paid a suspect who led her to believe he was the homeowner $1,700.

But when she showed up at the address on Sunday morning, she found the home to be under construction. The real owner told her she was the fourth person scammed into renting his property.

"I have not heard of a lot of it in Naples, but it does happen," said Mike Hughes of Downing-Frye Realty. "And we absolutely hate it."

Hughes said that vacation rental scams are a risk when searching online, but that the risk is much lower when using a real estate agent.

"Why not deal with a professional who can tell you, 'here's what we see as available right now.' And then you have a selection," he said.

In addition to the report filed by the victim, the real homeowner filed a separate report, claiming that an unknown person is using his personal information to fraudulently list his residence for rent on Craigslist.

Hughes said he believes that vacation rental scammers often operate outside of the country. But in February, a 57-year-old man was arrested in Collier County on charges of defrauding 3 women out of a total of $26,000 in an alleged rental scam.

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