SUNRIVER, OR -- Sunriver Police are investigating a spike in rental scams. Sgt. John Beck says incidents are rare in the small resort town, but they've received three reports in just the past week. They all share common threads: vacation rentals found on Marketplace, CraigsList, even E-bay, and the alleged rental company sends over a contract. "They get paid and then basically they disappear," Sgt. Beck tells KBND News, "They never send them codes to get into the homes. Once they get payment, they’re gone."
In at least one incident, the victim was left stranded. "The people that had paid the money to rent the house did show up at the house and then never received a code, so weren’t able to get into it. And then, as they start understanding that there’s a problem, they kind of had a feeling that they’d probably been scammed," says Beck. "It's Kind of a sad deal when you’re all excited to spend a few days away in Sunriver and it turns out like this."
Sgt. Beck says the cases all present red flags people should watch for, like, if the deal seems too good to be true, it almost alway is. "I assume people realize what the rates are here in Sunriver. But the one, they were like $150 a night, which is just kind of unheard of down here." He adds, "Are you renting a house for half of what everybody else is trying to get for rent? Other things to watch for: absolutely, how the payment is made. Are they asking for - as funny as it sounds - iTune cards? A payment through a web app or phone app that doesn’t offer any protection?"
And, he suggests doing a little online research before you book, "The contract they sent that has the property management name on it, had they Googled that name, they would have found that it really doesn’t exist." In Sunriver, Beck says, most of the rental homes are managed by a local company, and not rented out by a homeowner.
Beck says they are issuing subpoenas for bank records and other evidence to track down the scammers. But he admits, they're likely not operating locally and may be outside the U.S.