POLICE are warning people of a holiday rental scam using popular website Airbnb to reel people in.
The warning comes after one couple came forward to tell the story of how they were duped into believing they were renting an apartment through the credible site, when in reality they were being swindled out of over €2,000.
This is a highly intelligent operation, with some tricksters hijacking the identities of existing Airbnb hosts in a bid to deceive guests.
Investigators are calling for prudence from users booking online, particularly in the face of Semana Santa.
As well as using Airbnb, the con artists are flooding popular rental websites with beautiful photos of apartments at very competitive prices.
Punters are lured in by the apparent credibility of the deals available on the websites. It is at this point that the fraudsters use false emails to trick the cash out of unsuspecting users.
Police have tracked many of the criminals involved to countries in Eastern Europe and Africa, but some have learnt to cover their tracks, using servers which allow them to quickly delete all evidence.
Authorities are encouraging people to check and double check every interaction when booking rental properties this year.
Try to talk directly to the advertiser, rather than relying on email or WhatsApp. Credible owners will never ask you for copies of passports or driving licences, and Airbnb will never ask you to make payments outside of the website through the likes of Western Union or Moneygram.