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ALWAYS REMEMBER: The information about all listings at ExchangeZones.com is published directly by the property owner or manager ("the Advertiser") and we do not warrant the accuracy of the information. ExchangeZones.com is not party to any transaction arranged between you and the Advertiser, nor is ExchangeZones.com responsible for any representations made by the Advertiser. All questions about any property listing must be answered by the Advertiser. If you are interested in any listing click on "Contact Owner" button at the bottom of the listing to send them an email or contact them by phone/fax. By contacting the Advertiser you agree to the ExchangeZones.com Disclaimer.

Recent Scam Attempts 
Vacation Rental Scam
Homestay Scam 
Non-Simultaneous Home Exchange Scam
Home Exchange Security Deposit Scam

If you don't want to read any furhter just remember the following five common-sense scam-protection rules:

  • NEVER WIRE FUNDS VIA WESTERN UNION, MONEYGRAM OR OTHER SIMMILAR SERVICES.  If you are asked to do so, it is very likely that you are being scammed.

  • FAKE CHECKS & MONEY ORDERS ARE COMMON. Banks will often cash them and will hold YOU responsible after the fake is discovered weeks later.

  • ExchangeZones.com IS NOT INVOLVED IN ANY TRANSACTION. We do NOT handle payments, we do NOT guarantee any transactions, we do NOT provide escrow services, and we do NOT offer any "buyer protection" or "seller certification."

  • NEVER GIVE OUT YOUR FINANCIAL INFORMATION (bank account number, social security number, eBay/PayPal info, etc.)

  • DO YOUR DUE DILIGENCE BEFORE COMMITTING YOURSELF to a Vacation Rental or a Home Exchange.   Ask for copies of utility bills that shows the owner's name and address. Call the owner and talk to him or her.  If anything makes you even slightly uneasy about that person, then drop it and move to another property. You have no obligation to exchange with or rent from anyone. DO NOT COMMIT YOURSELF TO STAYING AT ANY PROPERTY THAT YOU DO NOT FEEL GOOD ABOUT.  Please also let us know about any property or any owner that you are suspicious about.

Where to report fraud or scam attempts?

  • Federal Trade Commission (USA): www.ftc.gov.
    FTC toll free hotline: 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357)
  • Canadian PhoneBusters www.phonebusters.com.
    PhoneBusters Toll free hotline: 888-495-8501
  • Internet Fraud Complaint Center www.ic3.gov/
  • Your local police department.

 

Vacation Rentals (Home Exchange) Scams


We made this site available for everyone to use it free of charge.  However you might be surprised by some scam artists that will try to use this site to cheat you out of your money.  So, please read this page carefully before making any commitments.

There are two kinds of scammers that could be identified as using the Vacation Rentals category of this or other similar websites.  But there could be a variety of other attempts to cheat you, so please be careful each time you make a contact through this or any other rental site and report to us anything that triggers your suspicion.  We will remove all listings that we recognize as potential scam.

Regardless of which vacation rental website or home exchange organization you use, do not deal with anyone who makes you uncomfortable for whatever reason.  There are thousands of other listings on this and other similar sites, and you should only deal with these people that you are absolutely comfortable with.  People who will fully answers all of your questions and are more than willing to offer any proof that they are the legitimate owners of the property. Although some other sites may try to make you believe that they are in control of scams, it is simply not possible for anyone to control all the listings and ultimately you are the only one on the hook, and it is only up to you to do your due diligence before making any rental decision.

If a website does not provide free listings as we do, it does not make it scam-proof.  Scammers will use stolen or counterfeit credit cards to list their Vacation Rental or Home Exchange properties that may not even exist. This practice is rare, but it may happen.

Fake Listings

Fake listings are usually listed in category Vacation Rentals although they could also be listed in Home Exchange or any other category.  The listings are often very professionally submitted with a lot of information and very good pictures. In essence the scammer usually does a good job in enticing potential renters. The price is often low and all sounds like a very good deal.

What are the signs of a scam listings?

  • The offer sounds almost too good to be true.  The rent is usually below the market value, and they often offer additional service that you did not asked for, such as for example free pick up from the airport
  • No physical address of the property is provided
  • Very limited contact information provided. Often the only means of contact is via email
  • If the telephone number is provided, usually nobody answers the phone call.  Instead you are asked to leave a message or send a fax.
  • You are asked to send a high security deposit to make the reservation.  Security deposit is to protect the owner from any damage caused by the tenant, therefore it should not be demanded from you until the day you arrive.
  • You are asked to send payment via a wire service like Western Union or a bank transfer


What you can do to protect yourself

  1. Ask for full street address of the property and the telephone number at the property.  Do not accept mobile phone number as the only phone number. Check with the telephone company it that address is correct. 
  2. Insist on talking to the owner or property manager.  Sometimes just a simple phone conversation will give you feeling if something is not right.  If they call you first, make sure that you are able to call them back at the phone number that they provided to you.
  3. Ask for any other proof such as telephone bills or utility bills with the address clearly visible on each bill.
  4. Ask if you or your friend can see the property before making any financial commitment.
  5. Never send any high security deposit or damage deposit.  Insist on making the deposit in cash or with your credit card upon arrival at the premises.
  6. If the owner, or property manager demands a rental deposit to secure booking the deposit should not be higher than the cost of one night rental.  This is how the hotels do, and this should not be any different. The deposit is only to make sure that you are serious about renting, and that you will not change your mind later.  It is OK, however, if the owner has a policy that they keep the deposit if you cancel your booking less than two weeks or even less than one month before your arrival date.  They need enough time to assure that the property can be rented again if you decide to cancel.
  7. In extreme cases you can book a hotel for one night in the same town or city, and move to the rental property the next day ONLY AFTER you inspect the property and get the keys to it.
  8. ALWAYS REMEMBER:  If anything doesn’t feel right to you, any doubt at all, drop the contact.  You will find many other offers either at this website or any other similar site.  Remember to ALWAYS LET US KNOW about anything that does not feel right to you.

Fake Tenants.

If you listed your property at this or any other website, you may receive some inquiry from fake tenants. The first “phishing” inquiry may be similar to this:

Hello,
I came across your advert on the internet concerning the accommodation for rent.  My company will be sending me down to your area for one month period and I am interested to stay in your accommodation. I would like to know the total cost for one month stay and the available dates in September. 
Thanks

Once you respond to the inquiry with available dates and cost of stay (for example $1200) you may receive a message similar to the following:

Thanks for the details. Please do reserve the home for me. My company is responsible for payment of my accommodation which will include my Traveling Expenses, Rent, Allowances, Food, etc.   All this sums up to a total amount of $3,000 for the period of my stay in your country.

I will contact my Supervisor now telling him I have gotten an accommodation for stay in your country. So they will be sending you the full payment of $3,000 which includes your rent payment. You will then deduct you rental fee and send the balance to me via Western Union Money Transfer.

Please send to me the following details so that we can send the payment:

Full name (as you will like it to appear on the cheque)..................
Address (where the cheque should be sent to)...........
Telephone number........................

I will forward this to my supervisor for immediate payment to be made out to you.  Hope to hear from you soon.
My Regards

The purpose of this scam may be twofold:

  1. To get your personal information such as name, address, telephone number, bank account number, etc. for the purpose of steeling your identity.
  2. They may send you a fake cheque for an amount of money greatly exceeding the amount of rent, asking you to immediately send the balance back to them.
Here is another example of a fake inquiry:

Hello,
I'm Suh Young (Single Mom) writing to inquire about your B&B services which I came across over today and we are interested. My daughter Juan age 19yrs is moving to US for her studies but she is now in UK where she spent the holidays with my half Sister and I want her to move from there to school. 1.I would like to know your charges per month 2.If you would be able to accommodate her just for 2 months. We are originally from China.
Regards,
Suh
.
  • Please be extremely cautious when asked to reveal any of your personal information to some people that did not prove their own identity.
  • Do not accept any “company” cheques for amounts higher then you asked for.  Especially, do not send any “overpaid amounts” back to the sender until the cheque has been cleared.  In most cases the cheque is fake, even if your bank will initially accept it. It might take the bank several weeks to realize that the cheque was fake.  By then, you have wired the difference back to the scammer and will be unable to recover what you have sent.
  • Remember that if something sounds too nice to be true it usually isn’t true.
  • Also keep in mind that you are responsible for all deals that you make with your prospective customers.  ExchangeZones.com provides a venue for advertising your accommodation but we are not responsible for any good or bad deals that you make.


Recent Scam Attempts


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Vacation Rental Scam

Below is a message from a scammer who pretend to be "Sgt Gary Skene" travelling somewhere on an "official assignment" to Persian Gulf. Below is his message that he sent to at least two of our Vacation Rental owners in February 2012. In this particular case he offers to send a fake cheque for £5,100 after being notified that the rental fee is £1000. He is trying to scam the vacation rental owner for £4,000. He set up a "virtual" phone number that only records incoming messages and he came up with an explanation why he never answers the phone calls. To make his offer more enticing he purposely miscalculates the numbers so that the owner gets additional £100.

Thanks for the update. l appreciate the apartment and do wish to reserve the specified date and am kind of assured they will enjoy their stay. Due to orders placed on individual calls here in Persian Gulf, we have limited use of telephones for now, l would have preferred a direct call conversation with you. My home phone it should be connected to an answering machine.

Sgt Gary Skene
1110 N 193rd st.
Seattle WA 98133
240 580 1299

No. of Guests: 2
Name of my Godson and his wife
Zack and Kimberly Garcia

Total Amount : £5,100

Deposit to be made : 100% + Air Ticket + Entertainment Package

I will pre-pay you directly with my check but before I do so, I want to make a humble request. I have contacted a tour operator in England to make arrangement for the guest´s air flight tickets and other entertainment packages that will make this honeymoon memorable. I have already concluded arrangement with the tour operator pending the receipt of his fund in the amount of £4,000 and am not able to pay him directly cos I am presently away on an official assignment hence cannot access my bank to make transfers to him either.

On this note, I have authorized a check of £5,100 to you. Deposit the check in your bank account and confirm it has cleared,then deduct and keep your fund of £1,000 for the rent 14nights and proceed to send the amount of £4,000 to the tour operator. I will provide you with his details.

Kindly confirm this arrangement and get back to me with your NAME, ADDRESS and PHONE NUMBER for my check payment.

Sgt Gary Skene.

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Homestay Scam

On April 15, or there abouts, I was contacted by a woman who claimed that her daughter, Min, was to arrive here on May 8th, 2010. She asked if I would supply homestay for her daughter, which I occasionally do. I agreed to take her daughter. The woman insisted that her friend, Oscar, from Toronto would send me the homestay fee for 4 months although I did not ask for this money up front. Her friend would send me the cheque and handle all of Min’s finances. I did receive a cheque in the amount of $4800 dollars, $2800 more than I should have received. I contacted Oscar on his cellphone and stated that he should reissue a cheque for the correct amount of $2,000. He told me to go ahead and cash the cheque, that he made a mistake and he believed his friend wanted me to send some money to Ming. I was to read her e-mail. It was strange, but strange things happen...

I cashed the cheque on Friday evening, I checked my e-mail on Sunday and there were two e-mails from the mother and one from her daughter. It was an overkill! The mother asked me to wire $3000 to an address in London. I have never made arrangements like this, nor did I intend to. Something was wrong with the set up. I have contacted my bank this morning to notify them that I suspect that the cheque I deposited in the bank on Friday evening, in the amount of $4800 from a company could possibly be a scam and will bounce. I have not sent any money through Western Union as requested by "the mother".

This is a scam and the people who supply homestay for students, are in big trouble. Many homestay providers take money in advance and think nothing of the possible mistake...

Regards,
Lorri

 

Non-Simultaneous Home Exchange Scam

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Hello,

I am writing this message in the hopes that my experience will help protect someone else who might fall for this scam. I hope that you remove this listing to prevent any further people being taken advantage of. In short, the woman who claims to own listing 1266808745977 (Prague), Veronica Viera Baumann, came to my house for 3 weeks and now will refuse to respond via phone or email to arrange my stay at her place (originally discussed for September). This is called scamming and stealing.
 
Here's the long version:

I was contacted by Veronica Viera Baumann to do an exchange at our Resort in Mexico (Listing ID: 1215555086463) for her apartment in Prague, Czech Republic (listing ID: 1266808745977). After emailing back and forth multiple times, we decided she would be coming in May 2010, and we would be making our trip to Europe during Sept. 2010, as it worked out for both of us to accommodate each other's plans.
 
She asked to stay three weeks, and although I knew I wasn't going to stay that long in her apartment, as a gesture of good will, I figured I would be accommodating and agreed.
She arrived on April 30th and stayed until May 21st. During her stay she was offered what we had agreed upon: an ocean view Suite with king bed, large bathroom, living room, kitchenette and terrace. Her room was cleaned and linens changes a couple of times per week. When she left, the Suite she stayed in was a mess, i.e. dirty dishes and rotting food, etc. Our housekeeping staff cleaned it up (no tip was left) and although I never mentioned anything to her, I do believe that this is not the way one should leave someone else's home. But this is the least of the problems.

While she was here, she brought me brochures from Prague, gave me her address, and told me she would have a friend let us in (as she would be traveling). She said she would email the details to me later.  Once she left, I tried contacting her multiple times since June 9th, unsuccessfully, to obtain the information that we needed. I have yet to receive a reply (when we were arranging her stay she replied daily). 
 
I then tried phoning her at the number provided by exchange-zones. I was unsuccesful the first time, but left a voicemail (her machine did say her name so I knew it was the right number). The second time, she answered, and after I introduced myself and asked her why she hadn't responded, she mumbled a few lines about her computer not working, then hung up. I tried calling back multiple times (long distance) but she didn't pick up. I searched her on facebook and found out that she was very active on the computer contrary to what she had told me. I sent her a message and friend request but also received no reply.

I haven't wanted to face the ugly truth, but at this point I can't find any other explanation, she is a con artist. She received a free stay at a Resort that would have cost her $300+ USD per night for thee weeks and now is backing out of her end of the bargain, this is considered theft. With flights already purchased for Europe, this is a huge setback for us, as we had not considered having to find alternate housing and most likely pay a lot for last minute hotel accommodations. Needless to say, I am extremely disappointed, frustrated and upset. I feel terribly impotent and taken advantage of, as I can't see what more I can do. My only hope is to stop her from doing this to someone else by letting you know.

Thank you for your time and taking this matter seriously.  I would be happy to answer any questions or provide any further information you might need.

Best,

Angélica del Valle
Mar de Jade
US 1800-257-0532
MX +52 (327) 219-4000
www.mardejade.com
Where the jungle meets the sea...


Home Exchange Security Deposit Scam

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This person posted his listing in a number of exchange clubs.  He will take your money and you will never hear from him again!  Here is his message to one of our members.

My apartment is in London and I will want to exchange it for your apartment in Poland. Our condition (policy) is that you will need to pay a refundable security deposit of £2,750. This is due to the last incident that happened in my apartment. The last person who stayed there destroyed a lot of things .

Kindly take note that it is also good for you to give me your conditions as well in order for me to know what I need to do.  Kindly inform me in your next email when you will be coming in order for me to reserve booking for you .

Hope to hear from you.

Best Wishes,

Henry Smith.


Testimonials

Hi there from sunny Brunswick Heads, Australia

Have had a successful change to Alaska in '09 through your site and have another arranged for Nova Scotia later this year. Plus I am hosting someone from Reunion Island in April - all through your free site. Excellent!

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