Family scammed out of $7K by fake listing on popular vacation rental site

POINT PLEASANT, New Jersey (WABC) -- A local family says they were scammed out of a lot of money by a fake listing on popular vacation rental site Vrbo.

It turns out several people lost money to the fake owner, but 7 On Your Side's Nina Pineda stepped in to help.

"We are a family of all teachers, this year was tough for all of us," said Stephanie Tsimpedes.

The Tsimpedes family splurged after the lockdown and rented a Fire Island home listed on Vrbo for three families.

It was right on the beach and even had a pool.

They emailed who they thought was the owner through the website -- a man responded to contact him on his cell instead, then asked for payment but not through Vrbo's portal.

"We had sent $1,000 deposit though Zelle initially and then the rest through Venmo," Tsimpedes said.

The rest added up to $7,000 and after he asked her to send the money to two different people on Venmo, Tsimpedes realized it was a scam.



The person acting like the owner had copied a legitimate home's listing -- right down to the exact wording. Both were offered for rent through Vrbo.

"The day before he was made aware of the same scam by four other people," Tsimpedes said.

The real owner said he reported the fraud each time to Vrbo.

"I would think they would take down the listing until they investigate it," Tsimpedes said.

Instead Tsimpedes' family had sent $7,000 to a scammer and had no place to go.

Luckily they reported the fraud quickly, the cash apps recouped $5,000 but when they asked Vrbo for the rest...

"They explained to me that they go through a process to verify whether it's fraud," Tsimpedes said.

7 On Your Side asked Vrbo to refund the remainder of the conned cash.

"So grateful that we could then use that money to rent another vacation home," Tsimpedes said.

They were able to get all $7,000 scammed back and put it toward another house down the shore.

Vrbo reminded that their Book with Confidence Guarantee protects customers who pay through the website from fraudulent listings, and although in this case the protection didn't kick in because the Tsimpedes family paid off the website, they were happy to refund the money as a gesture of goodwill in the hopes they have a seamless vacation next time.

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