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We are new to VRBO and just listed our property. We received a very strange inquiry that seems very fishy.
“He’s here on business, my fiance. We adore your location and are eager to move in there with our daughter and family, but we have a few queries first.
Does the house have laundry? I can’t see it in the photographs.
Do highways permit nighttime travel?
I need your phone number in this format: $$xxx$$xxx$$xxxx”
First off we do have laundry and it is pictured in our listing. Second, not sure what he is talking about highways; our listing is in the woods with gravel roads. Lastly, I’m very uneasy about him wanting our phone number.
Have any of you encountered this before? Should I report this as spam?
When we get a suspicious interest, we reply in good faith but usually include a summary of our salient rules (like no smoking, maximum occupancy, etc.) and this paragraph:
All payments must be made on the platform (e.g., no checks) and no visitation prior to booking. A reservation is not booked or held until payment is made assuming the dates ares still open then. All communications must be on the platform.
Usually this paragraph ends the inquiry because a scammer guest knows that we are on to them. Usually they ask for off-platform communications (we report this with a second attempt), visitation, or payment with a check made just a few days before the check-in date. So this covers all those bases.
It certainly appears to be a scam. I have only had this happen with VRBO and I list with both Airbnb and VRBO. After you answer their questions without supplying the phone number they will then ask you for your bank account # so they can pay directly. I have been hosting for 8 years and I still get these requests and I report them to VRBO.
One has to wonder how often these scammers are successful in their efforts. It would sure be interesting to know. They must have some level of success or you’d think they would have moved on to some new con.