SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, CA - The South Lake Tahoe Police Department (SLTPD) warns the public of an Internet scam that targets future visitors to the area.
To date, at least three families have been victimized by this scam, however, there may be more victims who have yet to report it, according to the SLTPD.
The scam targets individuals and families through vacation rental websites.
Fake postings are made on legitimate vacation rental websites, advertising rental properties available in South Lake Tahoe, according to the SLTPD.
These postings are made to look authentic by appearing alongside legitimate postings, and by including photographs of houses in the area.
The victim contacts the suspect(s) via e-mail. The suspect e-mails a realistic rental agreement with an out-of-state bank account number, and routing number for the victim to send money.
The suspect then has the victim's wire transfer money (which is non-refundable to the victim by a bank). The victim sent the money to the suspect, thinking they've made a reservation for the property. Upon arrival to the destination, it is discovered that the transaction was fraudulent and a scam has taken place.
The thieves have used accounts in multiple states and have used different names, both male and female. One common denominator is that a cell phone number of (940) 238-4477 is listed on the rental agreement, according to the SLTPD.
The SLTPD is asking vacation home owners, and local rental companies to monitor these websites for any fraudulent activity involving their properties. If any visitors to the Lake Tahoe area are a victim of these suspect(s) to please contact Officer Mark Hounsell of the SLTPD at (530) 542-6100.