Town of Duck News: January 23, 2012
Town of Duck Warns of Online Vacation Rental Scam
The Town of Duck Police Department has been alerted to an online vacation rental scam in which residential rental properties, located in Duck, North Carolina, are advertised, but the person offering to rent the property is not the owner or authorized representative.
Online rental scams are a national problem and the Federal Trade Commission is actively investigating, along with local authorities throughout the country.
In the scam, a deposit or full payment is taken, either via a mailed check, wire money transfer, or through PayPal, even though the rental is not legitimate.
Many of the fraudulent online listings have been on Craig’s List, but no two are exactly alike. Some scammers are reproducing actual real estate listings with photographs and property descriptions.
The Town of Duck Police Department suggests consumers consider the following guidelines when booking vacation rentals:
• Use a major credit card for lodging transactions, as is customary around the world. Most, if not all, bona fide rental firms accept credit cards. Major credit card companies normally protect the consumer in the event of fraud.
• Never electronically transfer money to someone you haven’t met in person.
• Be extremely wary of property owners who say they are out of the country and ask you to send a check to another person or another town. This is almost always a clear indicator of a scam.
• If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Sometimes a deep discount is a red flag that something is not right with the listing.
• The majority of the rental properties in Duck are represented by real estate firms licensed through the North Carolina Real Estate Commission. To verify a firm’s license, use the search function available on the Commission’s website: www.ncrec.gov.
• To ascertain the ownership of properties in Duck, use Dare County’s website: http://www.co.dare.nc.us/. Under the Public Information Files dropdown box located at the top center of the page, you can verify property owner information by name or address.
• If you fall prey to a scam, file a report with local law enforcement in the jurisdiction from which you conducted the business, as well as the Federal Trade Commission.
For questions, please contact the Duck Police Department at (252) 261-1112.
Clarification of Information Presented at a Gang Awareness Seminar Held on Monday, January 16, 2012
On Monday, January 16, 2012, a presentation on gang awareness was conducted by the Kill Devil Hills Police Department. The Duck Police Department has received a number of emails and calls concerning the presentation. While the information presented was basically correct, in that law enforcement has encountered gang members in Dare County over the past year, most of these individuals were from outside the area.
Some of the calls and emails that the Police Department have received lead us to believe that a misconception concerning gang activity and involvement in crimes may exist. Some of the information that later circulated in the area, while well-intended, was inaccurate. The Duck Police Department has been proactive in monitoring our community for any signs of gang-related activity and has stayed abreast of reported activity in the region. There is no evidence that criminal gangs are the primary perpetrators of crime within our Duck community, or our region. To date, the Town of Duck Police Department can show no direct correlation between criminal activity in the Town of Duck and gangs.
Metropolitan areas and cities throughout North Carolina and Virginia have experienced gang-related criminal activity for many years and it would be naive to think that some of these individuals don’t frequent Dare County. In that regard, all area law enforcement agencies are working together in the sharing of information and education of staff in gang detection and abatement.
Criminal gangs are certainly a concern; however, as a community we can work together to prevent crime. The Duck Police Department would ask that you commit to diligence in being observant and reporting any activity. Please follow these basic crime prevention techniques to assist the community and the Duck Police Department in crime prevention and detection:
• Lock your vehicles.
• Secure valuables out of sight: in the trunk, SUV cargo area, glove box, or console.
• Lock all doors and windows at your home; remember that most stock/standard window and door locks are designed to secure against the weather, not intruders. Consider upgrading these devices.
• Use appropriate security lighting; check our community night sky standards and be certain that your lighting does not intrude on adjacent homes.
• Consider adding an alarm system to your residence.
• Report anything suspicious immediately! Victims and witnesses have actually made the following statements to Town of Duck Police Officers:
“I saw someone there at about 3:00 a.m., and I knew they didn’t belong, but I didn’t want to bother you.”
“They were in my car too, at about 11:00 p.m. last night, but I yelled from the deck and they ran away so I didn’t call.”
The Duck Police Department offers these services to our stakeholders:
Property/House Checks: Officers make periodic checks of residences that are not occupied during the off-season. The officers look for open windows and doors and other signs of unauthorized entry, as well as looking for other items such as water leaks. If a problem is found, the homeowner or rental company is contacted; if a crime has occurred it is investigated.
Video Program: Residential properties experience natural disasters, theft, and fire. This service includes having a police officer come to the residence and document it on video. The homeowner receives a copy of the video and the police department retains a copy in a secure database as a back-up.
Security Surveys: This is for residences and commercial properties within the Town. These surveys assess the security of the property and provide recommendations to address potential security issues. Security surveys are conducted on an as requested basis.
For questions, please contact the Duck Police Department at (252) 261-1112 and ask to speak to Police Chief Ferguson or any one of our officers. To report a crime or suspected crime, call 911 immediately. For more information on the Duck Police Department, visit the Police section of the Town's website.