Renting properties in Panama - Scam

Old Jun 25th, 2019, 08:14 AM
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Renting properties in Panama - Scam

Beware!! -- In April this year, I contacted TryPanama real estate company in Panama to look for a winter rental. In my email conversation with Beth McGuyton, she told me that it was company policy not to reserve any rentals for winter until July. At the same time and independently, my brother-in-law had also been communicating via email with her at TryPanama. He told me that he had booked and paid for a rental house in Coronado for the winter thru TryPanama. I contacted TryPanama again and they indicated they had so many inquiries they decided to open their properties up for the winter. I picked a condo and was given a booking contract to sign and then wire instructions for payment. I was told that I would get a booking confirmation once the wire had been received. After numerous emails and a month passed, I contacted the lawyer at TryPanama to inquire where the booking confirmation was. Two days later I received an email from the real estate agent and lawyer at TryPanama indicating we had been scammed. I contacted my brother-in-law and he had also been scammed. In looking through my email correspondence, a new email address, very similar to the original, had taken over the email correspondence, and provided instructions to wire the money to a supposed condo owner’s bank in New York (according to TryPanama, they only do banking in Panama). I do not know who perpetrated the scam, or whose email was hacked. We both lost significant amount of money so be cautious when booking, and try to avoid any transaction where you are asked to wire money as there is no protection against fraud.

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Old Jun 25th, 2019, 01:30 PM
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Welcome to Fodors. This sort of scam is unfortunately very common all over - not just in Panama or re this company. airbnb, vrbo, homeaway - just about all of them - if one goes outside the normal channels and wires money skipping the protections provided by the booking site, there is very little protection. A couple of months ago there was a VERY long thread on the Europe forum about such scams in Europe where fraudsters posted multiple listings of fabulous properties and took booking -- using fake photos and booking calendars and receiving tens of thousands of $$ before the booking sites find out or took action.
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