Bangor Couple Victim of Vacation Scam

Joy Hollowell

Updated 2 years ago

It started as a long awaited vacation for Denise Shaw, her husband and son.But the Bangor woman soon found out she’d been conned out of almost $1,800 dollars.Joy Hollowell shows us how the scammers got away with it.===”We needed to go away, needed to finish a vacation that we started a long time ago.”Joe and Denise Shaw were in Key West, Florida when their daughter passed away 27 years ago. “She was here at the time,” explains Denise Shaw. “So it was one of those, on my bucket list that I really needed to try to go back and put a happy ending to this vacation.”Denise decided to surprise her husband and son with the trip as a Christmas gift.”Went on Craigslist, saw this house, it was so beautiful, put in the criteria that I was looking for and of course, everything just fell into place,” says Shaw. “And I thought, WOW, this is too good to be true- hello!”She began corresponding with a couple she believed to be the property managers. Denise was sent a contract, which she signed and returned along with the $1,775 rental fee, through a PayPal account.”We do a lot of business through PayPal in our business and never had a problem,” says Shaw. “I sent it to PayPal and it was done.”But the next day, Denise got an email from the owners.”That PayPal did not work. That particular address that they had given me didn’t work, could I resend it to another address?”Denise was immediately suspicious.”I said, I will not send it again until I’m seeing my first reimbursement, which happened,” she says. “So I thought, ‘OK, well maybe this is OK.’”And it was…until two weeks ago, when the Shaws were looking on the Key West Chamber of Commerce’s website.”And Joe goes, ‘Oh, there could be a problem because they put a warning on their website about the rentals being scammed in Key West.’”Denise emailed the Chamber right away with their rental information.”And they sent an email right back and said- We’re sorry Mrs. Shaw, the property that you think you rented doesn’t exist. I said, ‘Yeah, I’m in big trouble.’””That was pretty devastating, to say the least,” adds her husband, Joe.It turns out the scammers had stolen the identities of the real rental booking agents for the property, along with their website, and simply copied and pasted it onto the Craigslist ad with a different contact email.”Online here {the legitimate website}, it says it’s a monthly rental, but I was like, maybe for some reason, someone’s not going to be there for that week,” explains Shaw.Looking back, Denise admits there were other red flags as well.”The fact that the PayPal address was two different people that weren’t listed in the rental information,” she says.Joe Shaw started searching on line for other victims of this scam and was shocked at how many he found.”Some people go to their destination, and then put the luggage in a taxi cab, and go to the address and sometimes its an empty lot.”The Shaws have contacted the Key West Police department as well as the Attorney General’s office in Maine. And despite everything that happened, they’re still going to Key West.”We couldn’t really go backwards, we had to go forward,” says Denise Shaw.+++The Shaws tried recouping their losses through PayPal but were told there was nothing the company could do because it was a rental.They advise anyone booking a vacation through the Internet to check with the local Chamber of Commerce or Innkeeper’s Association to make sure the company and property is legitimate.


MENU