Nashville, Tennessee woman victim of rental scam in Sarasota

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SARASOTA, FLA. - Jennifer Schafer and her family are enjoying their vacation on the Suncoast but staying in an area hotel was not originally in the families plan.

“My brother and his kids flew straight from Sarasota, we drove from Nashville to Sarasota with my parents and myself and my four kids,” Schafer told ABC 7.

She found a five bedroom, four-bathroom house for rent on Craigslist and paid $2300 by cashiers check to the rent the house for a week. Schafer said she was dealing with a man who she thought was the property owner’s realtor and made plans to pick up the keys from the realtor at the property.

“When we got here there was no one here. We came up to the front door and knocked and we looked in the window and saw someone else's luggage inside.”

Then the realization that she had been scammed hit her.

“I was dumb founded, embarrassed, frustrated.”

Schafer thought she did everything right, even checking references by email. She says she later learned the responses to her email were even stolen from another website.

“He took recommendations directly off the VRBO, the vacation rental by owner site and verbatim wrote them in emails for me.”

Schafer filed a police report and stopped payment on the cashier check. She hopes the thief is caught before he is able to steal from anyone else. In the mean time, her family is making the best out of a bad situation and enjoying the rest of their vacation.

The Better Business Bureau recommends never wiring money or paying with personal check or even a cashier’s check. They recommend using a credit card because the card’s issuer may offer some protection.