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Alex, a photographer, videographer and creative director, fell victim to a holiday rental scam when booking a trip to Ibiza with his friends. Alex learned an expensive, but valuable, lesson - and is sharing his story so others can become aware without falling victim to a scam.
“Three of us were booking a dream trip to Ibiza - and we thought we had found the ideal flat to go with it. The flat was listed on a popular booking platform and the location appeared great, the flat spacious and the price very reasonable, so I reached out to the seemingly friendly owner.
“The owner said we should pay away from the booking platform which, he said, would make the flat cheaper: neither party would have to pay the booking platform’s fees. It all made total sense to us, and we felt very clever by agreeing to it.
“As soon as we made the payment all communication stopped. We quickly became suspicious. We then started to see a few other things that didn’t add up. For instance, the profile had a man’s name but a woman’s photo. We found the address on Google Maps (it was in the listing) and it didn’t look like the spacious flat we saw in the pictures could be inside the building we found. The reviews looked a bit off, too - but we thought they might have been for other flats owned by the proprietor.
“We had been scammed. The three of us are quite positive, easy going people. So, we took it with humour, counted our losses and booked the cheapest hotel rooms we could find.
“Looking back, a few red flags stand out. The main one? The owner’s ask that we pay directly to ‘save on the fee’. The general inconsistencies in his profile look suspicious now, but it’s easy to ignore these things if you’re not looking out for them.
“We learned a valuable lesson, and it’s not happened to any of us since. If someone asks me for money, I look at the ask almost with a magnifying glass - and I only pay via safe, secure methods.
“I am much more aware across my general life, too. For instance, if someone asks for a screenshot, I start running questions through my mind. What is in it? Is there anything that could lead to my email address, password, physical address, my mother’s maiden name, that type of thing being shared?
“I hope my experience can help others. Always be cautious when you’re being offered something that’s too good to be true, and especially when it involves payment. And one other lesson - if the unusually affordable rental has a pool table and a motorbike inside the flat, it is likely a scam.”
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