Avoid vacation rental scams
Vacationers can find a list of 30 professional vacation rental companies in the business directory of the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association at
The Steamboat Springs Planning Department is actively registering private vacation rental units for purposes of collecting sales taxes. Find out if the private rental you are considering is registered with the city by calling 970-871-8258.
urges its users to not commit large sums of money to a rental without physically visiting the unit.
The Internet-based clearing house for independent vacation rentals vrbo.com suggests a form of insuring rentals against misrepresentation, double booking, unreasonable withholding of security deposits and properties in foreclosure or bankruptcy through a company called HomeAway.
Steamboat Springs Aurora police arrested Nathaniel Cameron Marshall, 39, of Lakewood, on Friday morning in connection with a suspected scam operation involving a luxury ski vacation condominium at the base of Steamboat Ski Area.
The arrest was made after Steamboat Springs police Sgt. Nick Bosick, who has been working the case, received a tip Thursday night from a viewer of a report on Denver’s 9News who recognized a picture of the suspect.
“They were able to reach me at home, and I alerted Aurora police, who arrested him at work,” Bosick said.
Bosick confirmed Friday afternoon that Marshall had failed to make $5,000 bail and was being transported to the Routt County Jail. He originally was sought on charges of felony criminal impersonation and a misdemeanor computer crime. However, the Routt County District Attorney’s Office could amend the charges, Bosick said.
Marshall is thought to have fraudulently collected deposits on vacation rentals on a unit at The Antlers at Christie Base, which is listed for sale and being managed for nightly rental by Steamboat Resorts. Bosick said Marshall was representing himself as the rental agent for the property and had set up an ad for it on the Internet commerce website www.craigslist.org.
The 9News story by reporter Anastasiya Bolton apparently was prompted by a victim of the scam, Boris Umanskiy, who came forward to the television station, Bosick said.
But Umanskiy and his party were not the only victims of the scam.
“We know we’ve had six or seven parties arrive at the condo and been unable to get in,” Bosick said. “Another family arrived just (Wednesday). The management company gets a phone call after the people arrive and all of a sudden they have folks showing up.”
The listing could not be found on Craigslist on Friday morning.
Bosick had investigated the scam and uncovered Marshall’s identity, and at the time of the 9News report, he already was working with Lakewood police, who were seeking to arrest Marshall at his home.
Bosick said the suspect had researched the five-bedroom Unit 213 at The Antlers, which is listed for sale for $1.8 million, and apparently surmised it was not being rented.
Bosick said Marshall pretended to be the vice president of an oil company whose fictitious president owned the condo. He told prospective renters he was managing it on behalf of his boss.
The owner of the condominium, Margaret Begley, of suburban Chicago, said it was a relief that an arrest had been made in the matter.
“It’s unbelievable how clever people have gotten in this difficult economy,” Begley said. “It brings out the worst in people. It’s too bad he couldn’t have put all that” effort to a constructive use.
A five-bedroom condo at The Antlers booked for a four-night stay next week through one of Steamboat’s largest property management companies, Steamboat Resorts, would rent for about $1,100 a night, but Marshall was offering it for $300 a night plus a $150 security deposit, a price that proved too good to be true.
And in Umanskiy’s case, he ultimately purported to have dropped the rate lower after Umanskiy questioned an over-billing for the deposit on his credit card, Umanskiy told 9News.
Steamboat Resorts principal Bob Milne said his company was able to accommodate all of the displaced vacationers in appropriate condominiums under its management. He said he has heard about similar scams happening elsewhere, but not in Steamboat.
“We cooperated fully with the police, and they were great,” Milne said. “All of the people involved were very understanding.”
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com