SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- If you're headed to the Super Bowl and looking for a place to stay, here's a warning from the Better Business Bureau. The BBB says scammers are definitely out there, ready to offer you a fake rental. There are ways to avoid a heartbreak for your big event.
The BBB says big events like the Olympics and the Super Bowl bring scammers out of the woodwork. They're betting some fans are so excited about the game and so eager to find a rental, they can become easy victims. They then arrive at the rental to find they have no place to stay, and money is gone.
Offers abound on the internet. super bowl rentals. Luxurious homes in South Beach, Biami. The BBB says most are legit, but fakes are lurking out there too.
"It's prime time for scammers, especially if you're going to the Super Bowl," says Lori Wilson of the BBB.
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Con artists typically set up fake websites that look real -- using photos they find online, or pictures of homes that aren't really for rent.
"The website looks beautiful... because it looks good, you think it's legitimate. Of course, that has no bearing," says Wilson.
The scammers usually demand victims send payments by wire since that money can't be traced or refunded to you. Other crooks ask you for gift cards or MoneyPak cards -- a huge red flag. Some want payment through apps like Venmo or the Cash App.
"We believe 15 percent of the people who come across the bogus scam are going to fall for it," Wilson says. "You get to your destination, you knock on the door with all your luggage, and somebody answers and says what are you doing here, this is my home?"
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Here's how to avoid a scam.
Look for rentals on a reputable site like Airbnb or VRBO. Never go off the rental site to conduct business. If the seller wants you to discuss terms or pay outside of the rental site, it's almost certainly a scam.
Most importantly, never, ever pay by wire, MoneyPak, gift card or cash -- that's the surest sign you're about to be scammed. A credit card is the safest way to go.
Airbnb and VRBO still had several listings for Super Bowl weekend in Miami -- but both warn to stay on the platform when you make a payment. The sites offer protections in case anything goes wrong.
Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.
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