Its always an interesting story to read when you click through a cacation rental scam headline. Sometimes the type of scam is new and you want to alert people, sometimes scams have hit a new area and the professionals there should be alerted, but one thing is for sure, you never feel content in anyway after reading about these scammers. Today, there was a chance for that to change as I clicked “Rental Scammer Gets Two Years”. Finally, I thought to myself, someone is being punished for these crimes. To my horror, once the web page loaded the rest of the caption became clear, “most of which already served”.
“Vacation-rental scammer John D. Williams (right, picture courtesy of keysnet.com) ends his extended stay in the Monroe County jail in about a week after pleading guilty to two charges Tuesday on Plantation Key. Circuit Court Judge Luis Garcia sentenced Williams to two years in custody but credited him with the 722 days that Williams has spent in county custody since his October 2011 arrest toward that felony sentence.” Read original story here.
So I put it to you, do you think this punishment is appropriate? The more I read on these scams, the more they seem to be qualified as a white collar crime, garnishing sometimes substantially shorter sentences. However, one victim said it very well “We are not faceless.... We worked all year for 10 days of vacation and you stole that”. So is this any different than a mugging, a robbery, identity theft? In my opinion, no and the punishment for these crimes need to be stepped up. Had the sentence been 2 years from the date of verdict I think I would be singing a different tune, but to chalk up the damages created to time served seems a bit underwhelming.
In an industry where scams are constantly threating guest, areas, and managers, it is important to be aware of not only what is happening, but the follow up as well. I would love to hear feedback on what you, the professional managers think of this ruling and others like it. Are these scammers being punished enough? How do situations like this in your area hurt your business?