How to avoid fraud

Unfortunately the whole situation of renting a condo from thousands of miles away can easily be abused and while no procedure is completely foolproof, there are certain precautions that you can take to minimize the possibility of becoming a victim of fraud, here are some "red flags" to look for.
a- Membership. Make sure that the person or company renting you the condo is a member of an established organization such as the Better Business Bureau and/or the Hawaii Visitors Bureau
Membership in any of these organizations is very inexpensive so anyone can easily afford to be a member, if they are not, that should be a "red flag", you should walk away.
It is also important to use the phone number listed in these organizations to call the individuals involved in the rental, this will ensure that you are actually talking to the BBB member.
b- Able to be reached by phone. Make sure that the person renting the unit can be easily reached by phone, first because if there is a problem you need to be able to talk to someone but more importantly because phony rentals rarely have someone answering a phone.
If you call during business hours and yet are never able to talk to the person in charge of your unit, it should be a "red flag".
c- Is the phone's area code (808)?
Hawaii has only one area code and it is 808, if you are calling to a phone that has a different area code or the person can only be reached via email without any phone number listing that's a "red flag".
d- Pay only with a Credit Card, do not use PayPal, debit cards, send cash, money order or check.
You are the most protected when you pay with a credit card (not a debit card but a credit card). You can still pay with cash or travelers checks once you arrive to your destination if you wish to do so and in that case the original credit card charge is refunded to your Visa or MasterCard. Now a days is very simple to be able to accept credit cards, If those that want to rent you a condo do not accept them, well, that is another "red flag".
e- If you have been a vistim of fraud and you want to file a complaint:
To file a complaint with the Federal Internet Fraud Complaint Center visit:
To file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission visit:

If you have questions you can also call the Hawaii Visitors and Conventions Bureau at 1-800-GO-HAWAII or 1-800-923-464-2924 or the Better Business Bureau, Hawaii at 1-808-536-6956

Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.