SARASOTA (FOX 13) - The Savoy on Palm promises breathtaking views of the water plus the downtown Sarasota night life, but a recent scam has some wishing they'd stayed home instead.
One such person, Laura Glanz, and her family are from Iowa. They found an ad listing a rental in the Savoy for $150 a night.
She spoke with FOX 13 News on the phone and said her family couldn't wait for their vacation. At $150 a night, she said, it seemed like a steal.
"Now that we think about it, it was way to good to be true," said Glanz.
She signed a rental contract, wired a payment for $1,560 dollars and flew her whole family down to Sarasota, only to discover she had been scammed.
"It was terrible. It was such a feeling of betrayal. I had never experienced anything like that before," she said.
The luxury condo she thought she was renting wasn't for rent at all. Savoy does not allow its units to be rented. The unit Glanz thought her family secured was actually occupied, full time, by a husband and wife.
The condo owner told FOX 13 News it's not the first time their condo has been used as a front for a scam. He said, on two other occasions, someone has appeared, expecting to check in, but realized they had been scammed.
One group was so embarrassed they didn't even report the event to officers.
"The ad looks legit, but it's only $150 dollars for a 3,000 square foot condominium fully furnished. It's ridiculous. You are never going to find that anywhere else. Except in your dreams," Savoy concierge Joseph Weeks explained.
Sarasota officers said the scammers use photos from prior real estate listings. Sometimes, it's not even the real building.
"If you are looking to rent a property in a certain area of town and it's significantly cheaper in this ad, there is a reason. Just move on and look somewhere else," said Det. Sgt. John Todd.
Officers warned, never wire money for a rental and, if possible, go look at the property in person first. If it is too good to be true, it often is.