Santa Monica Vacation Rental Scam: Three LA Residents To Face Criminal Charges
Posted Nov. 8, 2012, 2:22 am
Brenton Garen / Editor-in-Chief
Three Los Angeles residents are scheduled to be arraigned in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Dec. 11 on criminal charges for bilking consumers as part of a vacation rental scam at a Santa Monica rental property near Second Street and Ocean Park Boulevard.
The Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office filed the 18-count criminal complaint Thursday against Eran Shabtay, Ann Dora Shabtay, and Stacy Gale Shabtay (also known as Gale Byers and Stacy Gale Byers).
The defendants are alleged to have owned and operated the vacation rental property, which they advertised on the websites vrbo.com and homeaway.com.
Santa Monica Deputy City Attorney Adam Radinsky said consumers alleged that their credit cards were charged multiple times for the same stay, and in higher amounts than agreed; that the property had nowhere near the size, amenities, or quality that was advertised online; and that they were sometimes double-booked with other customers on the same day.
“The criminal charges include grand theft by false pretenses, unauthorized charging of credit cards, false advertising, and operating without a business license,” Radinsky said.
The defendants are alleged to have operated under a number of different business names, including: MMM Properties, Stone Edge Properties, and West Coast Realty Group.
Each of the charged offenses is a misdemeanor and carries a maximum penalty of one year in County Jail and a base fine of up to $2,500.
The Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office is continuing to investigate the case.
Consumers who have lost money to these businesses or individuals should immediately contact the City Attorney’s Consumer Protection Unit at 310.458.8336 or smconsumer.org.