Help! My London Rental Apartment Vanished and I’m Out $3,100.

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Once you wrote to the scammers, they had your email address and used it — sending you an email dressed up to look like an official Booking.com message and from an @confirmations-booking.com address, which might seem like a legitimate address, though the company says all its emails end in @booking.com.

Reading copies of the emails you forwarded to me, the imperfect English is also suspicious (“Your booking to Two bedroom apartment with view needs to be paid in full”), as were some of the account details at the Spanish bank BBVA. “Nyholm Peik,” has no online presence I could find, and the address attached to the account is that of Vanity, a London “gentleman’s club” whose license was suspended in early 2023.

In our follow-up communications, Sylvia, you asked whether Booking.com had reported this apparent crime to the authorities, or to the bank. I asked the company, which said it was the customer’s responsibility to report fraud that takes place off its platform, and BBVA, which declined to comment. Consumers should make such reports to the F.B.I.’s Internet Crime Complaint Center and their own bank.

I was curious whether Airbnb and Vrbo do anything differently from Booking.com, so I got in touch.

Edith Morris, a spokeswoman for Vrbo, said the company deploys “a variety of sophisticated risk strategies and tools to monitor for suspicious behavior on a 24×7 basis and continually invest in our capabilities.” The company provides “payment protection against fraudulent listings,” although that does not necessarily cover a case in which a guest sends money outside the Vrbo platform.

Airbnb has a new verification process for properties, rather than just hosts, in the works and will use “a combination of sophisticated anti-fraud technology, A.I. and human review to check for authenticity,” according to a spokeswoman. She added that the first “verified” icons will appear soon on some listings in the United States, Canada, Australia, England and France.

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