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SXM Blog

Fraudulent Activity In St Martin Vacation Rental Market

11/16/2015 - By Ted Demeritte

We just wanted to provide St Martin visitors with notice that there is fraudulent activity in the vacation villa rental market in St Martin. We at St Martin Reservation Center have our own web sites which in turn place listings on Trip Advisor, Flip Key, Canada Stays, VRBO, Home Away, Vacation Rentals, Find Rentals, and other advertising platforms.
 
We do not control the security on these very popular platforms...it has come to our attention that there are "Bad Apples" involved in criminal activity, where they have hacked some of these web sites and figured out how to intercept inquiries and then respond directly to those looking for accommodations. They often offer enticing discounts and ask for money to be sent via bank wire, sometimes to an account in London.
 
The have used our company name as well as the names of other legitimate companies and they have used Holiday Rentals <flipholidayrentals@gmail.com> (this is not a Flip key address). many emails are signed by "Trevor". The criminals use email address that are similar to the real ones and customers often do not look carefully at the correspondence or where they are sending funds.
 
By keeping the transactions outside of the US it is harder to track. The various online advertising platforms have been of little help, in many cases just making sure they have amended their Terms & Conditions to indemnify their business.
 
We have heard about situations (not with our company) where a guest paid for a rental and when they showed up the property manager had no record of the rental and they had to pay again.
 
We have been very fortunate, as so far all of our prospective scammed customers have contacted us by phone and we were able to avert any catastrophe.
 
The vacation rental market in St Martin is very stable, with rates set by the villa owners. Every agent has the same rates for each property and in general that rate can only be lowered by the property manager after consulting with the owner.
 
All of this to say "Buyer Beware". Make sure you know who you are dealing with before you send funds. Make sure your talk to your agent. Do not send funds with just email contact, even if you think its a big name company.  If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is not real.

Remember, Forewarned is Forearmed.
 
Ted Demeritte
St Martin Reservation Center


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