ED Magedson – Founder
VRBO Alberto Bilbeny SoteloPASAJE SANT BERNAT, 8 1-1 BARCELONA , Spain Spain
VRBO SCAM Alberto Bilbeny Sotelo Phishing scam on VRBO BARCELONA Spain
Several months ago, I found a nice apartment in Rome, Italy on VRBO.com for our summer vacation. It looked nice and had good reviews, so I contacted the owner by email using the link on the website. I received a response from Mercedes (from a yahoo email account) who claimed to be the apartment manager. She sent me the address and detailed information about the apartment and gave us a good price. She also sent me the rental agreement which I filled out and sent back.
As instructed, I paid for the rental by wire transfer to Alberto Bilbeny Sotelo in Barcelona with account at BBVA Compass bank. When I questioned why the payment was going to Spain when the apartment was in Italy, Mercedes explained that the owner lived in Spain but that she lived in Rome where she managed the apartment.
Several months later I was looking for some details on the vacation rental online using the address of the place, and I found it on another website showing as available for the week I had booked and paid for. And the owner's name on the website was different from the names of the people I dealt with before. I called the owners and it turned out that I was scammed - they had no record of my reservation or my money and did not know any Mercedes or Alberto Sotelo. They were very sorry about this and gave us a discount so we will be able to stay at their place afterall.
VRBO now says you should always call the owner to verify the reservation, not just rely on email which can be more easily hacked. I am not sure how fireproof that is given that websites can be hacked and the listed phone numbers changed to the scammers' numbers, but it may be safer than relying on email only. Also, many of the european condos are listed on multiple renting websites so in the future I will try to find and cross-reference contact information across these different listings. For now, I am waiting as my bank is investigating this as a wire fraud, but I don't have high expectations of getting my money back.
This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 05/07/2014 09:35 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/VRBO-Alberto-Bilbeny-Sotelo/BARCELONA-Spain-08001/VRBO-SCAM-Alberto-Bilbeny-Sotelo-Phishing-scam-on-VRBO-BARCELONA-Spain-1144702. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.
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