Agencies that help with resolving a vacation booking fraud in U.S.?
November 9, 2008 10:21 AM   Subscribe

Looking for help in (a) identifying if this is a fraud (and if yes, by whom) and (b) who do we talk to help resolve it. Fraud deals with a vacation rental condo in Hawaii.

My parents are going on a trip to Hawaii in 2 weeks. One of the reservations that my dad has made was a condo rental for 3 days. Communication with the "owner" has started to sound like a fraud; short history follows. Primary purpose of this question is to find who can we contact other than BBB that can help us resolve this?

Summary of why we think this is a fraud:
1) Dad finds apartment he likes here.

2) He contacts the agency; they exchange several e-mails and a rental agreement is sent. He signs the rental agreement and sends them a certified cheque. The communication is done with a woman named Beth. Beth says she will send check-in information 3 weeks prior to the check-in date.

3) Beth disappears. Dad does more research, finds another (fishy looking) website for seemingly the same company that has a strange comment about fraud investigation. However, further research doesn't show any other complaints or any other information (good or bad) on the company.

4) Last Thursday Beth reappears, apologizing for not responding as she was out of town, and promising check-in instructions. Nothing else is heard.

5) Dad calls the location of the condo and speaks to someone there; there's no owner named Beth there.

What we know:
-> The address of the condo is 76-6288 Ali'i Dr. KONA HI US 96740
-> Beth's e-mail is, phone is 530-575-2213
-> Agreement was sent to
RDV Enterprise, LLC
P.O. Box 638
Colfax, CA 95713
-> Another location for RDV can be found here:
R D V Enterprise Llc
3321 Teal Sunset St, Las Vegas, NV 89129
Phone: (702) 892-8400
-> Someone named Angela Long could be related to this?
-> website shows 702-940-7795 as their phone number
-> whois information shows yet another person (Arthur, Roberta) and a different address. Same number, though.

I dialed all the numbers:
(702) 892-8400: not in service
(702) 940-7795: no one picks up
(530) 575-2213: voicemail (female recorded), not identifying who you'd be leaving a message for.

Mefis! Help! Is this a fraud? (probably - there are at least 3 different addresses for them, if you include the whois information). Who do we talk to? We are Canadian, but are there organizations other than BBB that we can talk to that will help? $400 check was cashed. Can anyone help find more information and get our money back?

Mefi-mail or e-mail me if you'd like to see the rental agreement, or any of the communication that has happened.
posted by olya to Law & Government (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: In case they clear the guestbook, the website has this comment in their guestbook:
Fraud Investigation:
We know what your doing and were watching you. Your going to jail.

Questionable grammar and spelling aside, that was our first sign that something is wrong.
posted by olya at 10:30 AM on November 9, 2008

This Tripadvisor forum comment may or may not be about the same Hawaiian Paradise Vacation rentals.
posted by halogen at 10:46 AM on November 9, 2008

I'm pretty sure is not the same company as RD Vacations/RDV Enterprise/HP Vacation Rentals. The former appears to be a pretty large, legitimate site, aggregating ads from owners and rental agents in much the same way as or even Craigslist. Of course, that doesn't mean that they necessarily have good controls against fraud. They do claim you can contact them on this issue.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 10:52 AM on November 9, 2008

Check out the corporate registries through each state's Secretary of State website:

California Business Search returns no results for RDV Enterprise, so it appears there is no entity by that name in California.

Nevada Business Entity Search has some more info. It looks like RDV Enterprise, LLC went into default ("Status: Default on 10/1/08"). There are two names there, and an additional address.

Can you get any information about who cashed your certified check? If you could at least get a positive match on the entity that ended up with your money, you might then be able to figure out in which jurisdiction to start asking for help.
posted by reeddavid at 11:26 AM on November 9, 2008

Did you notice that on Google Maps, that address is in a state park?
posted by Houstonian at 11:30 AM on November 9, 2008

5) Dad calls the location of the condo and speaks to someone there; there's no owner named Beth there.

This isn't necessarily suspicious - did Beth actually say she was an owner, or might she just be an agent of some sort? When I've rented condos, I've NEVER dealt with an owner directly.

Also, multiple address, especially the whois, wouldn't worry me at all.

You said you haven't heard from Beth since last Thursday, does that mean three days ago or ten days ago? If it's three, that wouldn't particularly worry me either, and I'd say there's a good chance she's just a flake who's dragging her heels on getting check-in info together.
posted by robinpME at 12:03 PM on November 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

1/ Recheck whether there's really a connection with the original firm and the sketchy firms you found later. I looked briefly at the sites (without the degree of attention you must have given) and didn't see the connection.

2/ Ask someone you (or your parents) know to refer you to somebody in that part of Hawaii who can chat with you informally about this. (From personal experience, I was once referred to a lawyer in Italy who easily gave me some background information about a piece of real estate in Italy, without charge.) For example, you may know a lawyer who belongs to a network of lawyers; I do. And banks such as Citibank have branches everywhere; even a cold call to the branch manager near the condo may get you some information about what's at that address and whom to contact about it.

3/ The local police are used to receiving long-distance questions about what's located at certain addresses. (The state park issue above seems fishy but isn't conclusive.)

4/ Have you tried to locate a management agent or office covering the condo development? This appears to be a listing for a single condo. The overall management office for the condo development may be able to tell you what's going on and whom to phone for better information.

Good luck.
posted by JimN2TAW at 12:22 PM on November 9, 2008

Don't trust Google Maps - they appear to use a pre-defined distance for addressing. For example, 625 That Street would be set at 50 feet south of 615 That Street, even though the address is only 40 feet down. Keep up the off-set pacing, and you're at the wrong place in no time. I know this from personal experience, and they have a help section on fixing addresses and directions.

As noted above, rental agencies usually work on behalf of an owner, because most people who have rental homes don't want to deal with management of their properties, especially when they don't live near the rental property. And it's quite possible that a large rental agency will work for a variety of locations, so they themselves are also removed from the rental address.

Good luck to your parents!
posted by filthy light thief at 12:25 PM on November 9, 2008

Postal Inspector; FBI? Not sure they can act within 2 weeks, tho.
What's the problem with the BBB? You tried it already?
Best of luck.
posted by JimN2TAW at 12:25 PM on November 9, 2008

If Beth owns the property in Hawaii, maybe you report the fraud in Hawaii? Here are some contact names and telephone numbers. Did your father get Beth's full name and physical address in California?
posted by Houstonian at 1:05 PM on November 9, 2008

The BBB is not what you want. All they do is pass on the complaint to the business being complained about and keep track of whether it was resolved to the complainer's satisfaction -- an established business might not want to have a record of unsatisfied customers with the BBB but a fraudster doesn't care.

The Hawaii Attorney General's office should be able to direct you to the best resources, if not take it on themselves.
posted by winston at 6:11 PM on November 9, 2008

Response by poster: Greetings everyone! Well, this post helped us resolve the situation - in a very unexpected manner. A detective from California (real one, I checked) found this post - turns out that the woman is under investigation. Slim chance of getting our money back (probably none), but justice will be served. And that is the main point.

Beth is a fake name. The person in question who is committing the crime is Angela Long. I hope if anyone else googles the company, etc, will find this post and NOT BUY.

Mefi rules. Thank you all for your answers!
posted by olya at 11:45 AM on January 1, 2009

Response by poster: Oh yeah - also, the story with "Beth" finished by her e-mailing us and saying that the condo was up for foreclosure and she'll be refunding our money... sure.
posted by olya at 11:46 AM on January 1, 2009

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