While in the past I have strongly advised you to only pay with a credit card and/or use the listing company’s secure payment system, I am now altering that advice to say, don’t do it any other way. Period. Nancy made the point that many legitimate owners don’t accept credit cards. True, but as this case points out, even when you verify, a sophisticated scammer can fake almost anything. If you want to be protected against internet fraud, only book vacation rentals that allow you to pay securely: first choice, use the payment system provided by the listing site; second choice, use a credit card outside that system, but keep in mind that credit cards have a time limit on their dispute process, anywhere from 60 to 120 days. If your rental starts after that time period, even a credit card won’t offer protection.
This advice may seem too categorical, and it’s fine with me if you think it is, but until listing companies take responsibility for the information on their sites (don’t expect that to happen without regulation), it truly is “buyer beware.” Neither I, nor apparently anyone else, including the police, can offer assistance if you’re scammed. Keep that in mind the next time you’re contemplating whether you should send a check or a wire transfer for thousands of dollars to someone neither you, nor anyone you know, has ever met.