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Vacation rental scams making a come back in Tampa Bay area

Woman drove 19 hours to find condo already rented
Posted: 6:31 PM, May 25, 2017
Updated: 2017-05-25 19:03:36-04

Clearwater Beach, the dreamed about back drop for a long planned reunion between mother and daughter. Marcella Pagnot and Daniella Giglio hadn't seen each other in two years. They planned to spend the better part of last week together at a beach condo.

Giglio who lives in Maryland drove for 19 hours only to find out there was no beach condo. Someone was living in the unit full time.

By the time she arrived the thief who posed on line as the owner, even using the owner's real name had taken off with her dollars.

Clearwater Police say the rental rip offs spike at Spring Break and in the summer. Most of the cases involve Craigslist. The bad guys are often overseas.

These thieves are slick enough to do their research on the properties and who owns them fooling those like Giglio who do her homework.

A few rules to avoid getting ripped off, avoid ads with too good to be true deals, use a real estate agent to book the property and never wire always insist on using a credit card. If the deal goes south the credit card offers protection.