In recent years there have been numerous reports of fake villa scams on Lanzarote with many holidaymakers finding themselves falling victim. Here’s a few ways to spot a fake listing when booking your holiday.
It’s every holidaymaker’s nightmare – arriving at your holiday villa only to find out that the villa doesn’t exist or that it’s a legitimate villa that has had its photos stolen and used for a fake listing online.
They can be easy to spot if you know what to look out for. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when booking online:
Reverse Image Search – A quick way to find if a villas images are on other listing sites under a different name or location is to reverse image search. Download one of the images and upload it to Google Images to conduct an image search. This will scan to see where that same image has been uploaded on other sites – if it appears on another site under a different villa name that should raise a red flag.
Being pressured to pay – Scammers aren’t known for their hospitality and will try to make their victims transfer money at the earliest opportunity. They may warn that your desired dates will be given to another holidaymaker unless you pay immediately as well as offering a discount for immediate payment.
If you feel that you’re being hurried to make a payment test their response when you ask to communicate further via email or over the telephone. If they agree this doesn’t necessarily mean that they are legitimate, however, many scammers will go silent when asked to communicate on the phone.
Payment method – We recommend paying with a credit card as they offer protection in the event you don’t get what you pay for. However, many legitimate villa owners opt for direct bank transfer, which scammers are aware of.
It is essential to make some checks before you go ahead with a transfer. As mentioned in the previous point, talk to the owner or property manager at length, ask questions about the ownership, when the property was purchased, what have they changed about the villa – a genuine owner will be able to talk knowledgeably and at length about the property.
Ask the internet – Lanzarote has numerous forums and social media groups set up by residents and tourists. There are multiple groups for all of the main resorts and for Lanzarote as a whole. Some of these groups have up to 50,000 followers, all of which book holiday villas online.
You can join these groups for free and ask a question about a villa that you have found, if anyone has stayed there before and if it’s a legitimate listing.