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Passport scam - do not send anyone a copy of your passport
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paolo



Joined: 17 Jun 2004
Posts: 3931
Location: Provence, France

PostPosted: Thu Apr 01, 2010 7:15 am    Post subject: Passport scam - do not send anyone a copy of your passport Reply with quote

The scam: in the process of taking a booking you are asked by the renter to send a copy of your passport ID page. He has sent you his passport details and his English is perfect so you go ahead. Together with your bank details which you have sent him, he now has everything he needs to empty your bank account.

I received this email from a rental owner, who narrowly avoided this scam:

Quote:
We received an enquiry from an 'English' name and the English within the email was perfect.

The enquiry went backwards and forwards for a few emails with general questions such as 'Do you allow guests to smoke in the villa' etc - it all seemed perfectly normal.

He then said he would book the villa and I sent a booking form - we ask for payment by bank transfer into either an English account in sterling or a euro account in our Spanish bank.

He then sent a copy of his passport and asked if we could do the same - immediately alarm bells rang

Fortunately I was in Spain at the time so I visited our bank and asked them to put a warning on our account, and also rang our English bank to do the same.

2 days later the Spanish bank rang me to say that a gentleman had rung pretending to be my husband saying he was stuck in an airport and desperately needed some money transferring into another account. As I had warned them of the problem they did not allow him to do anything.

However - they warned me that if the gentleman had received anything with our signature on it he could have sent a fax to the bank to request a transfer which would have been carried out if the signature was valid !!!!

I would recommend that 2 bank accounts are set up and as soon as the money is received into the account immediately transfer it into the other account - even if they tried to make a transfer there then wouldn't be any money in the account to steal.

In addition NEVER send a copy of your passport to anybody - and don't sign your contracts etc.

Fortunately (or unfortunately which ever way you look at it) we have experienced identity theft in the past which involved a stolen passport in my husbands name so I was immediately suspicious of the request - other people may not realise that your passport has nearly everything on it to commit a scam.

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Rocket Rab



Joined: 18 Sep 2006
Posts: 2259

PostPosted: Thu Apr 01, 2010 7:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, Paolo. Interesting advice about not signing contracts? And what to do if punter refuses to sign contract at his/her end?
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Don Ciccio



Joined: 24 Dec 2009
Posts: 481
Location: Trapani, Sicily

PostPosted: Thu Apr 01, 2010 8:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As you are the contract issuer I would have thought that you should have no need to sign the contract. BT dont sign the contract they send you, nor do your travel agents, the hotel reception desk or car hire company to name but a few.

Admittedly in the UK, longer domestic rental contracts require a landlord signature, but you can also legitimately require a 6 week deposit as security - in advance on the day the contract is signed by them - before you sign it.

Ciccio


Last edited by Don Ciccio on Thu Apr 01, 2010 8:16 am; edited 1 time in total
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paolo



Joined: 17 Jun 2004
Posts: 3931
Location: Provence, France

PostPosted: Thu Apr 01, 2010 8:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, that is a problem isn't it? I signed a booking form with a rental agency in Cornwall for this year and it is only signed by the renter. But that is an agency so gives me protection that a contract with an individual doesn't.

I suppose the only safe way is to have an account purely to receive rental money, and to transfer that out as soon as it arrives. I do think though that if I called my branch of Credit Agricole with the details of the empty bank account only, it would not be too difficult to get them to access another account.
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Don Ciccio



Joined: 24 Dec 2009
Posts: 481
Location: Trapani, Sicily

PostPosted: Thu Apr 01, 2010 11:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Am I way off mark by suggesting that any owner signing any such contracts do so with a very different signature to the one they normally use for their banks and cards. This would mean that the signature would be worthless outside of the contract?

Just a thought...
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Mountain Goat



Joined: 19 Apr 2006
Posts: 6095
Location: Leysin, Alpes Vaudoises, Switzerland

PostPosted: Thu Apr 01, 2010 11:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm in the middle of all this at the moment (it was a con), and would prefer to post in that Members Only thread.

In the meantime, I talked to our UK and Swiss banks. The latter said he has this continually with stolen ID/Passport details. The next step is for him to receive a faxed request to make a transfer to an Eastern European bank account. The UK manager (Barclays) said they no longer accept faxed requests for transfers.

CIFAS could be useful if you are having the same problem as we are (thanks, Don C) and are based in the UK.

MG
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Mountain Goat



Joined: 19 Apr 2006
Posts: 6095
Location: Leysin, Alpes Vaudoises, Switzerland

PostPosted: Thu Apr 08, 2010 10:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This passport/identity theft scam is ongoing. Could I suggest that anyone who receives a reasonably convincing booking from the following potential guests sends me a PM?

George W*****a
Davor K*******c
Dr Stephen K**g
Richard L**n

IP addresses could be Italy / Montenegro. Exchanging passport details are part of the scam as outlined above by Paolo. It has been successful in taking money from a Spanish Euro account.

MG
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Paul Carmel



Joined: 07 Dec 2004
Posts: 3850
Location: Palma Mallorca & Greece

PostPosted: Thu Apr 08, 2010 11:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Are these originating from one source such as HR etc?
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Mountain Goat



Joined: 19 Apr 2006
Posts: 6095
Location: Leysin, Alpes Vaudoises, Switzerland

PostPosted: Thu Apr 08, 2010 11:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As far as I know, and talking to the 'real' George W, it has all been HR, since January. I made contact with him as, by coincidence, he's a neighbour of a well-known LMHer who saw my Members Only post, and knew he had had a problem with identity theft.

I have to admit that listing sites, so far, haven't shown much interest, and I would have thought it would be dead easy to filter these out in their systems and at least warn owners of this new scam.

MG
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Last edited by Mountain Goat on Thu Apr 08, 2010 11:53 am; edited 1 time in total
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Paul Carmel



Joined: 07 Dec 2004
Posts: 3850
Location: Palma Mallorca & Greece

PostPosted: Thu Apr 08, 2010 11:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bugger! This is a first, I now wish I was with HR. No matter they will move on soon enough.
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Tizfata



Joined: 21 Apr 2008
Posts: 1273
Location: Tuscany

PostPosted: Thu Apr 08, 2010 12:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Even if I am very worried about what MG is going through and what might happen, I have to share my experience.
On Saturday afternoon, a part of a group arrives at the holiday home. They are a group of 6 Italian guys, but only 4 of them are here as the 2 other guys are at work and will join them later that night.
I tell them about the compulsory register I have to keep and the "schede di notificazione" forms I have to fill with idendity details.
"Ouch... I have to come back later tonight!" I said Crying or Very sad
"I can ask them to fax their passports" they suggested. Idea
So a fax solved my problem and saved me some time.
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Mountain Goat



Joined: 19 Apr 2006
Posts: 6095
Location: Leysin, Alpes Vaudoises, Switzerland

PostPosted: Thu Apr 08, 2010 7:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This scam is not going to disappear in a hurry. I have heard that a new victim, from Belgium, Marc H***t has had 10,000 taken from his Spanish account. He is in the same 'chain' as the names I published above.

One common theme appears that Spanish banks may not have the same security precautions as other countries, and spain-holiday dot com has had two of the fraud attempts.

It's not easy to see how these crook(s?) can be traced, with the only 'evidence' being a free email account and an IP address.

Would Interpol (do they still exist?) be interested? The least we can do is circulate our listing sites and hope their internal security could pick up these enquiries.

MG
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Last edited by Mountain Goat on Fri Apr 09, 2010 7:36 am; edited 3 times in total
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Hells Bells



Joined: 30 Apr 2005
Posts: 13142
Location: French Alps

PostPosted: Thu Apr 08, 2010 8:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another LMH'er had their French account emptied a long time ago, but I don't think a passport/ID theft was involved, It was Fraise I think. She had a long running battle to get her cash back.
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Mountain Goat



Joined: 19 Apr 2006
Posts: 6095
Location: Leysin, Alpes Vaudoises, Switzerland

PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2010 7:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The latest victim, Marc H***t has been in contact.

For the moment it does appear to be a problem with security at Spanish banks accepting faxed or telephoned instructions, so I suggest that Spanish owners make sure their banks are aware of this scam and tighten up on access to your accounts.

Besides banks, credit card companies, passport authorities, listing sites and police, Interpol should be made aware. I know that sounds dramatic, but I can't see how it can be stamped out without informing everyone involved.

I'm out of my depth here, so any ideas would be appreciated. This isn't a potential scam - it's working now, and owners are losing money.

Searching Google for passport scam holiday rental owner produces some interesting results.

MG
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Paul Carmel



Joined: 07 Dec 2004
Posts: 3850
Location: Palma Mallorca & Greece

PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2010 8:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the banks should be the first to tighten up there act. This like all the other scams out there will be ignored until it happens to someone in authority.
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