We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

BEWARE! vacation rental scam

NYC
7 posts
Save Topic
BEWARE! vacation rental scam

I live in Manhattan and have had a steady stream of tourists arrive at my door, luggage in hand, expecting me to give them the keys to my home. Some criminal -- he goes by Rick Freeman and Rick Anderson, but I'm sure he has other aliases -- has been advertising my home on the Internet and scamming people for thousands of dollars. The FBI Computer Crime Squad is investigating, but in the meantime: DO NOT PAY FOR A VACATION RENTAL VIA WESTERN UNION OR MONEY-GRAM!!! And remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

New York City
Level Contributor
17,258 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: BEWARE! vacation rental scam

msjuliap, thanks for this warning. To help others from falling into this trap, could you tell us what block your home is on, and how it is advertised by "Rick Freeman"?

NYC
7 posts
Save Reply
2. Re: BEWARE! vacation rental scam

GreenWhiteBlue, I live on the Upper West Side, in the 80s. (Sorry to be so vague, but I've been working to get a zillion rental sites to remove my address from their listings, so I'm reluctant to post it here.)

"Rick Freeman" (aka "Rick Anderson") lists the apartment as "NY Away From Home," and uses the e-mail address nyawayfromhome@aol.com. His voicemail number is 646-873-9656.

Odds are he has other listings. Worse still, odds are that this scam will catch on with other criminals. Besides being wary of anyone who insists on using Western Union or other money-wiring services, people should steer clear of sending money to anyone they can't reach directly on the telephone (i.e., if you can only leave messages on their phone, not speak to an actual person).

Thank you for helping me spread the word about this scam. I'd hate to see more people (tourists and homeowners) victimized by him.

New York City, New...
Level Contributor
126 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: BEWARE! vacation rental scam

I just googled his e-mail address and found one of his listings. A four bedroom, three bathroom apartment on the UWS with concierge service, washer and dryer, maid service, and (my favorite part) storage unit included! Obviously he preys upon tourists who have no clue about New York apartments. He also required full payment 4-6 weeks before arrival, although it doesn't mention the rate.

Remember, if it sounds too good to be true...

New York City
Level Contributor
17,258 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: BEWARE! vacation rental scam

I just googled it as well, and I found the advertisement for the apartment. Talk about baiting the mousetrap!!! Here are some of the details -- I am sure that people from out-of-town will read this and say "Wow, that sounds nice!" while New Yorkers will be open-mouthed with astonishment at the blatant lies contained herein:

"XXX West 8Xth Street Cross st: COLUMBUS & AMSTERDAM Area: Upper West Side Steps from Central Park, this apartment is in the most sought after location on the Upper West Side. this full service luxury condominium. designed by xxx. This 4 Bedroom, 3 Bathroom home features a top of the line custom designed cook's kitchen with imported Italian cabinetry, polished quartz stone countertops, handmade Waterworks tile backsplashes, door attendant and elevator, Restaurants and bars. This apartment is a nice, clean, very pleasant way to visit New York .stations R, N, E, D, 1, 2, B, A, and C lines one block away. Lincoln Centre beyond Columbus Circle is also close by,shopping and dining along the fashionable 5th Avenue and Madison Avenue,

. . .

White glove building amenities include a private dining room and catering kitchen, a fully-equipped fitness center, a children's playroom, separate bicycle storage and cold storage ideal for fresh food deliveries. Abigail Michaels concierge services are also available. Pets are welcome Conveniently located close to supermarkets, pharmacy, shopping area,bars, restaurants, movie theater. The apartments come equipped with; cable, phone (free local calls),We provide you with daily cleaning services, all linens and towels (no surcharges). also comes with a brand new Sony Flat Screen Plasma TV. Central Air and Heat which you control, DVD Player, Great sound system, Wifi, Granite Kitchen, cable tv, hi-speed wireless internet

Activities: The Theatre District is also within walking distance.

. . .

Other Rules: Rental balance due 4-6 weeks prior to the reservation date "

Folks who might be interested in the above, what you have read is a blatant and obvious LIE. In addition to being a scam at the address given, there is NO SUCH APARTMENT ANYWHERE IN MANHATTAN. This is obviously a scam intended to prey on those who have never been in NYC. Do you notice that rubbish about the "R, N, E, D, 1, 2, B, A, and C lines one block away"? The E train never goes north of 53rd Street, and the R and N never go west of Central Park. The 2 and A are expresses, with no stops in the 80's. And did you see that foolishness about theaters being within walking distance of the west 80's? That's TWO MILES away!!!!! Any New Yorker would know this and say "that's crazy!" -- but here is this criminal suckering in the tourists. And did you notice that slick requirement that everything be paid a month and a half in advance?

Every day there is someone else on this board asking for an "apartment rental" in NYC, and when they get told that such things are bad ideas in New York, they often get huffy and talk about what great luck they had renting an apartment in London or Paris or Rome.

Folks, New York ain't Paris, and it ain't London, and it ain't Rome. I don't care what a great experience you had with that little apartment on the Left Bank, or that lovely house in Kensington. This is New York, and such apartments as the one described DO NOT EXIST, and local laws make most apartment rentals illegal. Please, don't fall for this garbage. Forget about what you did anywhere else, and STOP TRYING TO RENT APARTMENTS IN NEW YORK. Either go to a reuglar hotel, or an apartment hotel such as the Radio City Apartments, or else just stay home, and save yourself a great deal of expense, shock, and heartache when you show up and there is no such place as the one you thought you paid for.

NYC/Israel
Destination Expert
for Israel
Level Contributor
35,091 posts
35 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: BEWARE! vacation rental scam

I would like to think that your message will be the one that tips people into NOT thinking they can rent in NYC. However, it won't. People are gullible and all seem to think that THEY have found the one exception to the rule.

bTW will someone tell me why you need a storage unit for a 1 week vacation????? They are not moving in ( are they?)

To msjuliap--my sympathies and hopefully we will be reading, in the newspaper about the capture of this sleeze.

NYC
7 posts
Save Reply
6. Re: BEWARE! vacation rental scam

Thank you all for your support in this. It really has been a nightmare for me -- though nowhere near as bad as it's been for the families who have wired money (up to $2600!) to this criminal. Can you imagine arriving in New York during the holidays, only to find you had been scammed? Many of these people could barely speak English, which made the situation even more difficult.

One good thing to report: A sympathetic reservation agent at the Beacon Hotel (her name is Dawn) arranged a special rate for several of the groups. The Beacon is at 75th and Broadway. They have suites with kitchenettes, and all my new foreign friends have reported that it's a very pleasant hotel. So if you are looking for a nice place to stay on the Upper West Side, check out the Beacon Hotel.

Here's hoping the FBI puts a stop to this scam soon!

Brooklyn, New York
Level Contributor
5,032 posts
8 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: BEWARE! vacation rental scam

That description that GWB provided was insane. It really is too bad that the poster has to be brought into a scam he/she has absolutely no part in except for living at an address someone randomly picked. I hope your misery ends soon and this criminal's misery is just beginning.

I must say, though, that there are some people who really are naive in this world. Western Unioning money to someone you don't know....???

Yalesville...
Level Contributor
17,914 posts
1 review
Save Reply
8. Re: BEWARE! vacation rental scam

BobbyC - my sentiments exactly. I've been following this post and tried to put myself in the position of a foreigner who might have been enticed by the ad I know I would have a difficult time wiring money to an unknown person....

I hope this gets sorted out soon and the scum ball who is taking all this money pays for his/her crime -but this is highly unlikely - difficult to prosecute cyber crime...well let's hope for the best.

Poppa

Queens, New York
Level Contributor
25,046 posts
12 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: BEWARE! vacation rental scam

Wow, that description was sad but HILARIOUS!!

msjuliap, thanks for the warning and I hope your housing situation is preserved.

I believe there is a groundswell of political activity against such scams. I think State Assembly Member Richard Gottfried is one of the legislators involved, but not sure.

I will add this thread to the Apartment Scam thread linked in the FAQ "sticky".

NYC
7 posts
Save Reply
10. Re: BEWARE! vacation rental scam

Thanks for adding it to the faq, QueensBoulevard -- maybe that will help some tourists. (I couldn't help noticing that everyone posting on this thread lives in New York!)