With all condo and vacation rental bookings, there are steps you should take before you make any form of payment. In my opinion, these steps include –
– Use Google Image Search to see if the images being used on the listing appear anywhere else on the web – not sure how? check out this how to – http://www.wikihow.com/Search-by-Image-on-Google – you will be surprised sometimes at the results you get.
– Search the unit number with the name of the building, and see what results appear. You may find reviews for the unit on sites like TA that way. People often put in a review for a condo on the hotel listing (eg if you look at the Ilikai hotel listing, you will find reviews for the condos there).
– Search for the details of the people you are considering booking with – eg name, phone number, email address.
– Search for some of the text from the listing and see if it is borrowed from another listing on the web. The scammers are quite lazy and quite often just copy the original listing text.
– Call and speak with the person you are making the booking with personally.
– When speaking with them, you could ask for references – eg people who rented the unit previously.
– If you are able to contact other people who have rented the same unit, do so, and clarify the details with them – eg who owns the unit or the company they rented from, who they spoke to, the phone number they called.
When you do finally go ahead and make a booking – to protect yourself, pay via credit card.
I hope this information might be useful in protecting you from scams – yes, it has happened to people, here is a recent thread re this on Tripadvisor –
Also on AirBNB – be very careful – ONLY make payment via the AirBNB website system. This family found this out the hard way –
I wish you all safe – and scamfree – travels. 🙂