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Home rental gone wrong: Milwaukee man witnesses hoax rental for home that doesn't exist

Posted at 3:06 PM, Aug 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-08 16:17:29-04

MILWAUKEE — These days you can rent a home for a night or two with the click of a button, and often times it's a lot cheaper than a hotel. Imagine reserving a home rental for your trip, but when you show up it doesn't exist. Bay View homeowner Stefan Dostanic said he witnessed a home rental gone wrong.

"Can you imagine the frustration," said Stefan Dostanic.

Dostanic was in his Bay View home when his dog started barking.

"I imagined that neighbors were having some late night guests," said Dostanic.

When his dog kept it up Dostanic went to investigate.

"Then the dog barked a second time and a gentleman was standing on our porch.... I thought to be honest with you it's the 'I ran out of gas' scam," said Dostanic.

It turned out to be something much different.

"We are at 3284 and the neighbors address you can see is 3288, and the address listed on the rental was 3286. He showed me the phone and that doesn't exist," said Dostanic.

Dostanic isn't sure what site they used, but said the man had a picture of his house with the fake address next to it.

"What's most unnerving is that someone took a photo of our house and they must have stood right here when they did it. It was pretty recent photographs I could tell by the vegetation and all that," said Dostanic.

Better Business Bureau of Wisconsin CEO Jim Temmer said the housing rental scam is common.

"We see this all year round," said Jim Temmer.

Temmer said a big red flag is how the home owner want their payment.

"Can you wire me a deposit or can you wire me the balance of the money, or send cash or I need a Green Dot card or iTunes gift card," said Temmer.

Temmer suggests doing your research.

"Take the address, put it into Google Maps, make sure it really exists," said Temmer.

Asking questions is crucial.

"What's the nearest restaurant, does the bedroom get sun from the east, is the stove gas or electric. The more questions you can ask you're going to find out if that person really lives there or not," said Dostanic.

Hopefully avoiding a situation like the man who just flew in and the guys parents who drove hours to an address that doesn't exist.

"They're here ya know. It's 11 o'clock you're just ready to plop and relax and boom you don't have a place to stay," said Dostanic.

The BBB suggested testing the home owner by asking about something you see in a picture posted on the rental site.

Here's more information about avoid vacation rental scams, click here.

To contact the BBB Wisconsin call 414-847-6000 or visit the BBB Wisconsin website.