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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Key West Vacation Rental Scam

I got an email a couple of days ago which read "I was reading your information about KEY West housing renovations and I saw 319 Grinnel ST.  Could you tell me if the renovation is complete.  I believe I saw it on a Forcloser list and I  am wondering if it is in liveable condition." 

I had actually walked past that house last week as I was taking photos for an upcoming blog. I wrote about 319 Grinnell Street on September 13. 2011 when it was listed as a bank owned foreclosure.   It sold very quickly. But nothing has happened since the new owner took title. At least nothing noticeable other than a "No Parking" sign that was posted by the driveway. 

I sent the email writer a response and said the house had not been renovated and told him to be weary of any rentals on Craigslist or most other non-realtor websites.  I suggested that he actually call and speak to a live person and not pay any money on anything that he could not verify.

The email writer was in fact doing his own due diligence by contacting me. A day later he sent me a new email with the link to the website which supposedly has 319 Grinnell Street in Key West available for rent.  The web address is:
I went to that link and found addresses, photos, and descriptions of the four properties shown there as available for rent. Just below you can see photos of the actual properties.  If you go to that website, your browser will reacting if you click the photos and search info for too long. So beware.

319 Grinnell Street - 2011
319 Grinnell on 9-26-2012
803 Olivia St on 9-26-2012
The supposed property rental site shows an address of 805 Olivia Street. There is no such address. See the adjacent vacant lot. It belongs to 803 Olivia. The next house to the east is 811 Olivia Street.  Google the address for yourself.

The fake website show interior photos of a Meadows townhome located in the 1500 block of Petronia Street. Our office sold out those properties a couple of years ago. I recognize the interiors. CLICK our website for proof.

510 Frances St on 9-26-2012
510 Frances St actually exists. However, this is not the same property shown on the fake website. If you bother to look at the fake website photo for this property you will see a large rectangular pool. Fraud!  The actual pool is shown immediately below.

Pool at 510 Frances Street
213 Julia St on 9-26-2012
213 Julia Street appears to be a large multi-unit apartment building in the Bahama Village area of Key West. 

I have no idea who the internet frauder is or where he or she is located. It could be some person in Key West, but I doubt it.  The supposed website has a telephone number listed. The email writer told me he has made numerous phone calls none of which get answered.

I recommend people who plan to rent a private home or condo rent through a local property management company with a physical address in Key West such as Rent Key West, Compass Realty, Historic Hideaways, At Home In Key West, Preferred Properties, and others.  Be wary properties you see on Craigslist or other sites.  It's your money and your vacation you are gambling with. Whatever you do, do not send any deposit by Paypal or Western Union.


Anonymous said...

Could you send me info on the $495 car you have for sale? :)

I think of the folks who show up with their bags to a vacant lot after sending money to this creep. You gave good advice.

Last One Left said...


Is there an easy way to look up property ownership in Monroe County such as in Broward? I'm told with a magic jack you can have a Florida exchange but actually be robbing someone while sitting in India.

Steve Cleary

Gary Thomas said...

Steve, Yes. The public can search Monroe County real property ownership at Then click search property and search by address, owner name, or other criteria.


Sandy Jones said...

I once saw one of those Trumbo Road condos that was for sale, listed for rent on Craig's List for $200 a night and the guy would even pick you up at Key West Airport. What a deal!!! I told the listing agent so he could get it removed from Craig's List.

I have rented from At Home in Key West and Preferred Properties, both great to work with and you are guaranteed a rental!

Anonymous said...

Gary, two years ago there were 5 bad rental listing on the net for Ocean Park, Maine. I do not know why folks do not check out the rental listings OR use a reliable agent. In Maine no licence is needed to rent real estate. Bewere


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Gary Thomas in a Nutshell

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Key West, Florida, United States
I first read about Key West in a magazine called "After Dark" sometime in the mid 1970's. But it wasn't until March 1984 that I made my first visit to the island that would become my home. I had two weeks for a vacation and reserved a room at Colours Guesthouse (now Marrero's Guest House) for one week. I thought that if I didn't like Key West, I could always go back to Miami or Ft. Lauderdale for the rest of my trip. But after a couple of days in Key West, that was no longer a consideration. But when I wanted to extend my stay for the extra week I found there was no room at the inn. The guesthouse owner did find me a room at LaTeDa, the infamous guesthouse/restaurant. That's a story I'll write another day. But those two weeks in Key West gave me the realization that I had found Paradise. Key West has been my home since 1993 and my only regret is that it took me so long to get here. I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties CRI. Let me help you find your new home or business in Paradise. Living in Paradise is not a slogan, it's a way of life.