I can’t seem to find a story similar to mine in which the fraudster booked a house in China with my account, but seems to have uploaded their own method of payment – I hope – instead of using the two credit cards of mine that were stored on file. I woke up around 4:00 AM EST on Sunday morning, February 12th, 2017 and decided to check my email. I don’t usually check my email at this time so I’m not sure what prompted me to. However, I’m glad I did. What I saw when I logged in to my email account was about 95-100 spam emails, which were very unusual in the sense that they were not typical spam with a selling point or a strange message and attachment, but were all from different email addresses, sent to me with my very own email address in the subject header. In the subject was a short statement in a foreign language “发自网易邮箱大师”. I used a translation app and it said “From my Netease Mobile E-Mail Service”; basically it’s that provider’s version of “Sent from iPhone”, right? Strange.
Under all those emails were two emails from Airbnb in that same language (I’m guessing Chinese at this point). I don’t read Chinese, so I logged onto my Airbnb account and saw that a house had been booked in China for the amount of 9518 HKD plus a 40 HKD cleaning fee. This is over 1000 USD. I immediately canceled the reservation but noticed it was the type that allows you to pay immediately with no refund. I received a refund for the cleaning fee only. Then, I went to payment method and (stupidly, you will see why later) canceled all of the cards that were on file, not realizing at the time that the one that was used for the booking was not my card; as far as I know, I do not have a card in the ending in the same four digits. I was in a panic.
I then searched the website for a contact method, eventually reaching the contact form. I wrote a short message detailing what had occurred, explained that I deleted the credit cards by accident, and asked them to please look into it: the 100 spam emails, etc. I used Google and realized there were hundreds of fraud stories about Airbnb and through one blog went to the login page. There, I found that someone in China had logged into my account twice. The two logins had different IP addresses; I’m not sure if that matters. I called Airbnb around 12:00 PM Sunday, finding a customer service number through Google. It took about 18 minutes for someone to answer. The woman who answered was not very helpful, but very apologetic. She said she saw that I had submitted a message that morning, that the fraud team was working on it, and that I had to wait. I asked her if she had ever encountered an instance of a listing being booked with an entirely separate credit card. “No,” she giggled. “That’s new to me.” Fine.
Well, yesterday on February 15, I received a message from “Becky.” I have attached the email. As you can see, she makes no mention of the house being booked, of the fact that it actually went through, that it’s non-refundable, whose credit card it is, the spam emails, etc. Nothing. I wrote back:
Thank you for your email. However, this does nothing to address my question and concern about someone having booked a house in China with a credit card that is not mine. Is Airbnb looking into this?
This morning I received a reply:
I reviewed your account and noticed that you have cancelled the reservation. As you told us that the reservation was not made by you I have forwarded your case to the concern department for a refund. Please note that you will get the refund within a few working days. You also mention that the credit card in your account is not yours. Just to inform you that I have already removed the credit card from your account.
I already removed the credit card on my own. Is this a robot I am corresponding with? And yes, I cancelled the reservation. You noticed it, but I also wrote that in my original message. Is Airbnb’s customer service even alive? Now I’m not sure what my next step is. I’m 99.9% certain the card used in booking was not mine. I have exhaustively searched all my credit cards (I only have seven) and even ran a credit report just to make sure it wasn’t an old one I haven’t used in a while or that one was opened in my name fraudulently. Is there anything I can do? Am I just waiting my time going back and forth with Airbnb?