Crime

Two scammed with vacation rentals in Key West

Two tourists found out they were ripped off Saturday when they arrived in Key West for vacation, only to be told the homes they rented are not vacation rentals.

Around 10:40 a.m., Gerald Gutzler of Nashville, Tenn., called city police and told them he and his family had rented a house at 1023 Packer St. using the website www.vrbo.com (vacation rental by owner). When they got to the house, he "discovered that someone is living in the house" and that person told him it's not for rent.

In fact, according to a report written by Officer Todd Stevens, the resident told Gutzler "this has happened numerous times and the resident has been forced to turn away several parties who had been scammed."

The address of the rental agent, Vacation Homes LLC, was listed as 412 White St. Stevens went there and found out it's a doctor's office.

How much Gutzler paid for the alleged rental wasn't specified but Discover reimbursed him because he had fraud prevention on his credit card.

The same day around 7:30 p.m., Adrianna Merrill of Burlington, Mass., called police to say she had booked a house at 827 Center St. using www.homeaway.com and paid $932 for seven days.

But officer Igor Kasyanenko wrote in his report that she "learned the house is not there" when she arrived at the address. She told the officer that "a random person who was living in the area" told her "she was not the first person this has happened to at this location."

Throughout the Keys, short-term vacation rentals are strictly regulated.

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