Big events like the Kentucky Derby, the NCAA Tournament and the Super Bowl mean big business for cities. These events can also be a magnet for scammers.
“They faxed me this contract. I filled it out, signed it, and sent it back to them,” said fraud victim, Willie Pinkton.
Pinkton signed a contract with Superweek Lodging hoping to rent out his home during the Super Bowl in Indianapolis.
“They assured me my house would be rented out 'before' the Super Bowl and it was going to be a minimum of a 3-day stay and make a minimum of $850 per day,” he said.
To get his home listed, the company told him he would need to send money upfront.
“I would need to send them a check or money order for $875,” he said.
So, Pinkton did. And what did he get in return? Nothing. In fact, he lost the money he gave them.
Homeowners were told if the home wasn't rented or they wanted to cancel, they could get their money back. Again, not true.
“After the event I tried to call him back several times. I didn’t get any answers,” said Pinkton.
Postal Inspectors say this scam has been growing in the last five years, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses.
“Be weary of investment opportunities that are high reward but very low risk,” said U.S. Postal Inspector Keith Moore.
Consumers need to do their research. One way is to contact the Better Business Bureau and ask how long the company has been doing business. But sometimes, the con artists try to cover their tracks.
“The suspects generally change the website name and the company name every year after a big event,” said Moore.
“I just don’t trust any of this anymore," said Pinkton. "I would never ever do it again.”
Indiana's Attorney General filed lawsuits against Superweek Lodging and another home rental company for their role in this case and another like it. The suit is seeking full refunds for customers, civil penalties and attorney fees.