September 28, 2016
Walter Baronowski didn’t think there was anything peculiar about a couple of guys renting his mother’s Florida house. He was relatively new to vacation rentals and managing the investment property, listing it on sites such as Airbnb and Expedia Inc.-owned HomeAway. Last-minute rentals weren’t a frequent occurrence, but it was, after all, Thanksgiving week, and Baronowski figured the two guys wanted to get away. The men sounded normal over the phone and a brief back-and-forth through HomeAway’s messaging service. Plus, they were paying about $4,000 to book the place for the weekend, and the cash had arrived in his mother’s account. Nothing appeared awry with the rental until Baronowski’s cleaning guy arrived to find the place had been burglarized….