Seaside vacations became fiascoes for at least four people now believed to be victims of an alleged vacation rental scam, city prosecutors announced Thursday.
The guests' credit cards were charged multiple times, and in higher amounts than agreed, and the renters found the property near Main Street in Santa Monica was nowhere near the size or quality that was advertised online on popular sites such as vbro.com, according to Deputy City Attorney Adam Radinsky.
"Sometimes [the property was] double-booked with other customers on the same day," Radinsky said.
Eighteen misdemeanor criminal charges have been filed in the case, including grand theft by false pretenses, unauthorized charging of credit cards, false advertising, and operating without a business license.
Owners Eran Shabtay, Ann Dora Shabtay and Stacy Gale Shabtay, who also uses the names Gale Byers and Stacy Gale Byers, all of Los Angeles, are scheduled to be arraigned on the charges Dec. 11 in Los Angeles Superior Court. Each of the charges carries a maximum penalty of one year in county jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
The attorney's office has identified four victims who each booked one-week stays at the property near Second Street and Ocean Park Boulevard, for between $2,500 and $3,000, Radinsky said. It is no longer listed on vrbo.com and homeaway.com.
Prosecutors opened the case after guests filed complaints with the attorney's consumer protection unit, Radinsky said.