Thursday, June 19, 2008

Residents Report Orlando Vacation Housing Scam

   Residents of western Lawrence County reported to authorities last week that they had apparently fallen victim to a vacation housing scam in connection with a planned trip to Disney World.

   The victims reported to Lawrence County Sheriff’s Deputies Thursday that they had searched the internet for property management companies in order to find affordable housing for a trip to the Orlando, Florida, them park. They were particularly impressed, they reported, by a company named “Green Orange Villa.” The female victim reported that the company website,, was impressive, bearing photos of beautiful villas and houses, and hundreds of positive customer testimonials.

   The family of five booked a week-long stay at one of the company’s properties, in which they and another young family of five planned to stay. The victims transferred funds from their bank account to cover the deposit, and later the entire week’s stay. The amount totaled more than $1,000.00.

   They reported that the head of the management company, “Roger Colby,” indicated he would email them the directions to their villa. When they failed to hear from him, they began to place telephone calls to several listed telephone numbers where they left messages. In addition, they sent repeated emails to the three different email addresses listed. They became concerned when, as their vacation approached, they received no response.

   While speaking with a family member who resides in Orlando, the female victim reports that she mentioned the name of the property management company. Unfortunately, the relative expressed alarm, stating that the company had been the target of recent investigation.

   The victims began to conduct more in-depth research about the company and reports discovering numerous complaints filed through the Central Florida Better Business Bureau and In addition, they discovered that numerous lawsuits have been filed against the company.

   “Apparently the man was taking pictures of these nice homes,” the female victim stated, “and posting them on the internet…We were just lucky that we found out about it in time.”

   The family indicated they would still be able to leave for their planned trip Saturday. A family member in Orlando was able to find them a place to stay. In addition, they expect that their loss will be covered through SunTrust Bank’s fraud protection program. Still, they warn residents who might be planning a similar trip to make certain that they speak with a live representative of the company, and take all other precautions available in order to ensure they do not fall victim to a similar scam.