Many families save up to bring their children on a trip of a lifetime to Disney World or one of Central Florida’s other parks.
But imagine flying to Orlando only to find out the vacation home you rented for the week is already occupied and your money likely went to a thief.
It recently happened to five families who thought they were renting Sue Johnson's home.
Johnson lives out of state but owns a house in Kissimmee, which she advertises on a legitimate vacation rental website.
The home is about 3 miles from Disney World.
She said this week's victims saw a fake advertisement for her home on Craigslist. It was listed for $86 a night.
That’s less than half the price for which she rents her home.
Johnson said the family paid in full and then flew to Florida with two children, grandparents and a dog.
"They get to the house and they walk up to the door and see my manager's phone number. They call her, thinking that she's the one who's going to come over and give them the key," Johnson said.
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Johnson said another family paid the scammer to stay in her home for the entire winter and pulled up with a U-Haul truck.
"They brought all of their belongings from New York and their family members and were ready to move in," said Johnson.
All of the victims filed police reports, but only some got their money back.
Johnson said many of the families, including the father who was ripped off this week, noticed red flags but said the scammer had answers for everything.
"He didn't feel right about it, and he had looked up who owned the house, and it did say Sue Johnson,” Johnson said. “And he mentioned that to the scammer. The scammer said, ‘Oh we bought it back from her.’”
In that case, the scammers were using the previous homeowner's name.
Johnson said she has had no luck with getting Craigslist to remove the ad.
Channel 9 tried to contact Craigslist, but has not gotten a response.
Johnson now checks the website every day and flags the ad as “fake” whenever it pops up.
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