Beware of Easter accommodation scams, warns Gumtree
Gumtree SA has warned South Africans looking for last-minute Easter holiday deals to be aware of scams.
“Holiday accommodation scams usually start cropping up during the Easter and school holidays,” said Gumtree SA's Louis Bosman. “Scammers target individuals who left booking their dream vacation a little too late and set up convincing adverts at a price that is too good to be true. However, these scams are easy to spot and avoid.”
Some red flags to look out for include:
Extremely low prices
“There are bargains to be had but if a venue is priced far below the typical value, you have to proceed with caution. It is unlikely, for example, to be genuine if you spot a 10-sleeper cottage on the West Coast right on the beach for R500 a day when all the other similar venues are asking R5,000 a day. Alarm bells should go off.
“If the photos used on the advert appear pixelated, cropped or watermarked this could be a sign that they are not legitimate. If you are suspicious, request additional photographs,” said Bosman
Sense of urgency or refusal to provide information
“If the person advertising accommodation insists that a deposit be paid within an hour and/or refuses to provide more information or allow for a viewing, it’s worth investigating further.
“Scammers try to obtain as many deposits as possible before going quiet. If they are pestering you for a deposit but refusing requests to view or provide additional details and references, be vigilant.”
Bosman said Gumtree's customer service agents are trained to spot scams and suspicious behaviour.
“While they cannot definitely identify a listing as fraudulent, they will recommend proceeding with the booking, or not, based on their observations.”
Bosman said Gumtree blocks more than 2,000 ads as suspicious or fraudulent every week before they even go live on the site — but scammers will try to circumvent these measures.
“Community flags and queries often help us find the few ads that slip through. If you spot anything that concerns you, let us know and we’ll assist.”