Fake Listing on Airbnb Cost me Over £3500

As a first time user on Airbnb I had never used their site. I was booking a ski apartment in Morzine, France for me and seven others. I found a perfect apartment; it looked lovely and was at a perfect location in town. I emailed the ‘host’ using the link on the Airbnb website, which said “click here to contact host.” For over three weeks I asked questions and explained I had to get a commitment from my seven friends, hence it took three weeks to finally make the booking. We must have exchanged over 20 emails. Little did I realize this host had a fake email address set up with an Airbnb heading: all the fonts, fine print, everything. At some point during our conversations she switched addresses and all further correspondence went through this channel without my knowledge. When it finally came time to book she even mentioned to me that I was to pay Airbnb and not her directly.

I was then sent an invoice from what appeared to be Airbnb (since then I have seen a friend’s real booking – his invoice looks exactly the same) and I paid it. I even checked online 24 hours later, saw the money had left my account and the beneficiary was Airbnb, and so I had no reason to question it. It wasn’t until a month later, when the holiday was getting closer that I decided to touch base and all was revealed as the host didn’t answer her email. When I tried to click through to Airbnb on one of her letterhead emails the listing had been removed. Airbnb sent me their standard email three times stating, “as I paid outside their platform they wouldn’t help.”

They won’t take any responsibility for a fake listing on their site. Since finding out I was cheated, I have done some research and have discovered unfortunately I am not alone; this has happened to a number of people though my situation seems to be for the most money. I am not a stupid person; these people are very clever and know how to scam others. I do not think Airbnb protected my interests. When setting up my profile I didn’t receive any warnings about how to pay hosts correctly. Instead, there are various references to ways littered across the site, including ‘instant book’ and ‘contact host’. These create enough confusion so that when an email is received from someone listed as a verified user you do not doubt it. When taking on a property it should be their responsibility to verify these listings. It wouldn’t be difficult – even a copy of a utility bill from this property would have saved me and others like me from being scammed. Airbnb is a huge international company, stretching to over 190 different countries, so I am just a small fry to them. Unfortunately for them £3500 is a huge amount of money to me and I will not stop until I get it back.

Scammed at Christmas in Times Square Airbnb

This past week, I had an amazing experience in New York City with some amazing people. Now that we’re back home, I wanted to voice my displeasure about a service that I tried for the first time, and ended up losing a lot of money. I’ve heard a lot of people talk about great experiences they’ve had using Airbnb as an alternative option to getting a hotel, and when planning this trip, we decided we would give it a shot as well. I downloaded the app. We found something that seemed like a great deal, all of us checked it out to make sure we were comfortable with it, and I proceeded to go through what I thought was the process to schedule the Airbnb because, again, I had never used the service or the app before. We were excited about our trip. Everything was scheduled, the person answered all of my questions, I sent the payment, and we were good to go. About 4-5 days before our trip, I tried contacting that person again because I wanted to let them know what time we were arriving so we could meet up and get the keys for the place. After not hearing anything back, I continued to try and contact them with no success.

During our layover on our way there, we finally realized that we had probably been scammed, and I was finally able to get ahold of a customer service representative at Airbnb. They took my information and started an incident report for me. I sent them all communications I’d had with this “host”, along with their “contract”, and a link to his original posting, which of course had since been removed. Airbnb escalated the report to try and help me out, but determined that because everything was handled through 3rd party companies, there was nothing they could do for us (everything listed for the 3rd party companies was found while I was using their app). Airbnb has continued to send me surveys asking how my service was. I was brutally honest, but I also felt the need to say something on social media so that others don’t fall for the same scam. I’m glad we were able to find other accommodations, and you’d better believe we didn’t let it ruin our trip. However, we are still out a large amount of money, no thanks to customer service at Airbnb. Hopefully this helps anyone looking to use the service in the future.

Airbnb is a Joke: Dirty Disneyland Trip

Airbnb is a total joke. I strongly suggest no one use it. We booked a house for $1500 for our family Disneyland trip and the pictures of the house made it look awesome. However, when we showed up we realized immediately they had falsely advertised the place. It was listed as being on Disneyland Drive but that was not where it was. It was in a bad part of town where there were bars on every window and the neighborhood was trashy and run down. That wasn’t even that big of a deal. It was posted as a privately-owned condo but it was part of a rundown apartment building. In the listing it stated it had a washer and dryer in the condo but it was a separate laundry area for the whole apartment complex that you had to pay to use and stand there and wait for it to be done. The listing stated it had a two-car parking garage, but it did not. It had a small covered parking area that parked one car and it was so tiny our car didn’t fit in it without us having to climb out the back hatch of the car.

We drove around looking for alternative parking and the nearest place we could park was twelve blocks away. Twelve blocks of walking with kids after walking all day at Disneyland. The listing said the house slept ten, but there was no possible way to do that. The house was filthy. The walls were all scraped and scuffed and dirty, cobwebs were everywhere, there was a moldy shower curtain, drool stained the pillows, there were dirty used bars of soap and loofahs in the drawers and showers, no light bulbs were in any of the fixtures or lamps, clumps of hair filled the sink and drawers, the carpets hadn’t been vacuumed, the floors hadn’t been swept, coffee had been spilled on the counters and was dripping down the cupboards, the fridge was disgusting and made a super loud buzzing noise, and the neighbors were loud. You could hear people running through the other units. It was gross and dirty and nothing like it had been described. We left immediately, contacted Airbnb, and booked three last-minute hotel rooms which were expensive.

We followed the rules on filing a claim and getting a refund on the website and they wouldn’t refund us. The people lied about everything down to the location and we paid a cleaning fee on a house that definitely hadn’t been cleaned before we arrived. So how can they not refund us?

Airbnb Hosts in Cuba Can’t be Trusted

First, the place was advertised as “Casa Jesus & Maria” and it looks and operates as a hostel (a bad one). I booked the place about three weeks in advance for two days and had been in contact with the host almost every week. The last message was exchanged only two days prior to our arrival and, at that moment, we were told that the room we were supposed to stay had been under construction for over a month. We arrived in Cuba at around 11:30 at night (the host was informed about this a week earlier) and were greeted by Jesus and Maria. We were promptly informed that they did not have a room for us. Maria ushered us in and, as if to prove her point, showed us a room with a scaffold inside and no furniture and claimed that the only reason why the room was not ready was due to heavy rain.

My friend and I were puzzled since it clearly looked like the room had been under construction for a while and they probably rented the room to us without it being ready. Worst of all, they probably knew very well that it was not going to be ready more than a day before our arrival and never told us about it. Maria informed us that she had arranged for us to stay somewhere else and that she was going to call the person to come pick us up. It was after midnight and we were stranded at some stranger’s place in Havana, without any local currency, and thinking that these people are really trying to screw us. Maria spent over 40 minutes on the phone, trying to find us another place since her arrangements did not follow through. They barely looked us in the eye while we were there and did not speak to us at all.

Finally, someone knocked at the door and we were escorted to another place by Ana. Ana’s place was definitely not in good shape and it was completely different from what we had signed up for. We were taken upstairs through these very narrow steps (our carry-ons barely fit) and shown an area with a queen bed and a bathroom without a door. The room was as big as the bed, the bathroom had no hot water, and the shared bathroom downstairs did not have a toilet seat. After we finally got ready to go to bed, about 2:30 AM, the bed broke. We had to move the mattress by ourselves since Ana was nowhere to be found. I had an asthma attack because the mattress was extremely dusty.

We woke up the next day and went back to our first host to try to give them a second chance; they had told us that they would have another room ready. Of course the room was not ready and we finally lost our cool. I told Maria that what they were doing to us was not fair and I wanted my money back. I did not raise my voice and spoke to her calmly. Maria got extremely upset and told me that if I wanted my money back I had to deal with Airbnb. We took off and, unfortunately, spent almost the whole day trying to find another place to stay. I speak fluent Spanish and all I could think of when all this was going on was: what if we did not speak the language? We would be even more desperate.

I called Airbnb and spoke with Kendra in customer service. She said that I was going to get a refund and that the incident was going to be “investigated”, that the host was going to be told to “honor the ads.” I was really expecting a little bit more of sympathy from Airbnb since this experience basically destroyed our vacation; we had only planned to stay in Havana for two days. I understand that Airbnb has little control over how hosts act but I was truly expecting more concern from the operator. I do not want anybody to go through what we have been through, especially if they do not speak the language. Now the host is threatening me with Airbnb messages. Needless to say, I had to dispute the charges with my credit card. I closed my account and will never use this service again.

No Apartment and No Money Thanks to Airbnb

After this experience, I contacted Airbnb by telephone. I sent them documents, data and evidences of the scam I experienced through the company. I still noticed that there were ads on Airbnb pages that follow the same strategy to persuade customers to book on behalf of the corporation.

On Saturday, November 12th, I logged in to Airbnb to search for an apartment. When I booked one, I received an email telling me that they were not able to verify my payment method (which was true because I had not yet updated my profile on their system) and they advised me that if I did not do it within 48 hours the account would be suspended and I could not book an apartment through them. They informed to me to verify the method of payment, and I had to send them my full name, address, expiration date, and the last four digits of my debit card. I also added a statement from my bank with sensitive data like my account number.

Someone sent me emails at the same moment I visited Airbnb and they also asked me about verifying my account. It sounded true. In addition, I had not still updated the method of payment on the application. On the other hand, searching Airbnb, I saw an apartment in New York for January 4-7, 2017, near Central Park and Times Square. The apartment, whose host was called Tammy (attached picture), was interested in us and we read the information given that they only accept bookings through WhatsApp, at the number indicated on the Airbnb website. This was something that initially did not seem dubious because we had heard that Airbnb was a very safe and reliable company, according to friends and acquaintances. When I contacted the host by WhatsApp, she told me that she would send me a pre-approval email with all what I had to do (attached image). There, I could read about how to send money (Western Union) and where I had to forward the payment confirmation by email to Tammy (tammy_bangle@yahoo.es) and to Airbnb (automated@airbnb.com; same domain as the website, something that made me trust the email). On Tuesday, November 15th, at 7:45 AM, I sent the transfer and exchanged messages through WhatsApp with the host. Obviously, it was a scam.

My Airbnb Fraud Experience: Nightmare in NYC

Dear Airbnb,

I’m absolutely disgusted by your service and lack of concern for your customers. Before I start in on you, I’d like to start by explaining my situation, solely for the entertainment of the readers. Last week, I found out that I was a victim of fraud through Airbnb. Two of my friends and I decided to book an apartment in New York City, to spend four days of our Thanksgiving break there. The apartment we found seemed amazing: great location, cheap price, and just perfect for three international college students. The host of the apartment had listed his contact number on the website and it said to contact that number in order to book the apartment. We tried reserving it on the Airbnb website itself, but for some reason it wasn’t happening. We were scared that if we waited too long, the apartment would no longer be available; therefore we decided to contact the number that was listed.

We messaged the number, got in touch with the host, and reserved the apartment. He asked us to do the payment through Western Union, which is generally a credible way to wire money, and so a week later we made a $700 payment ($300 for the apartment for three nights + $400 as a security deposit). We received confirmation emails from Airbnb as well and believed that everything was confirmed. The payment was made to someone called Michael Harrison. The next day, the host reached out me and asked me to make another payment of $600; he said it was some sort of tax fee and that is when I realized something sketchy was happening.

I contacted Airbnb immediately and then found out that the apartment listing was invalid and the apartment doesn’t even exist in real life. I contacted Western Union after this, but the receiver had already collected the money. We tried resolving the issue with the host, but he blocked my number and the only way to resolve the problem was through Airbnb. I contacted your customer service number at least 15 times. Your staff was extremely unhelpful and didn’t seem to take my situation seriously. I waited about three days after calling and finally decided to send an email. I sent three emails and did not receive any response. After calling a few more times and finally tweeting, you decided to respond to my emails. You were not willing to compensate us for the cost or provide us with accommodation. Our transport has already been arranged, but unfortunately we will not be able to go on this long awaited trip, since we have nowhere to stay and already lost $700.

If the apartment listing was invalid and non existent, it shouldn’t have been available on the website in the first place. It is so misleading to your customers. More than anything, your staff didn’t seem to take our concerns seriously, considering our trip is next week. They were rude, unhelpful and extremely unapologetic about the incident. Being a frequent user of Airbnb, I was completely put off. I’ve never had such a disastrous experience before. They were not willing to compensate us for new accommodations or refund at least the security deposit ($400). I have nothing more to say, except that I am never using Airbnb again. I’ve tried everything in my power to resolve the issue with you, but you were unsympathetic and indifferent to this situation. Losing $700 is no joke. I’m disappointed at your lack of concern and overall approach to this whole situation. Your staff is unhelpful and not willing to do anything to help me. Being such a well known, world-renowned company, this is absolutely appalling.

Airbnb UK Host Held Responsible for Fake Listing

Airbnb does not listen and does not care. I’ve just been sent an automated request for feedback on my experience. The guest has not even responded to my most recent communication four days ago and blamed my son – an excellent Airbnb host, as can be seen by the reviews by guests – for calls he has been getting about a place in the Netherlands that has no connection to him. Airbnb has not noticed that this place has no connection to him so this has caused him a nightmare, including Airbnb cancelling a booking to his real place in Brighton, UK due to the fact he was not responding to booking requests for a place that has nothing to do with him in the Netherlands. Airbnb refuses to compensate him the £600 he lost, saying he must be to blame for this false account. He is extremely careful with security and has done nothing to compromise his account.

On November 1st, he had another booking request for this retched place in the Netherlands and had to call Airbnb again. If there is such a place on Airbnb, why is it not linking to whoever actually owns it and how are they taking bookings for it? Where is the money going? Because it is certainly not going into my son’s account! Confused? Not as much as we are and Airbnb refuses to speak on the phone to sort this out. The guest just sends emails; Airbnb can only communicate this way and that is just not good enough. I gave them a zero in their feedback. Until they listen to hosts and guests, no amount of feedback will lift that score.

Airbnb Allowed me to be Scammed in Hawaii

I booked a house from December 23-25 in Maui. The host asked me to use a wire transaction for the deposit and cleaning fee to his private account, a total amount of $840. He claimed the deposit is refundable but the cleaning fee isn’t. The first time he gave me his “secretary’s” account to wire the transfer but it fell through. I guess I should have stopped there. Then he gave me his property manager’s account so I filed the transaction on October 24th and it went through. He said he received the money and the house was booked. Then I received a message saying my reservation has been canceled. He explained to me that this was a result of a system error due to Airbnb being updated. He suggested I make my reservation directly with the property manager. He also asked me to proceed with the rent payment to his property manager’s account so they could complete the reservation.

As of this point, I had already wired him $840 and he still asked me to wire $749 more to his property manager’s account. He said as soon as I did that my reservation would have been officially made. He also said it was a private booking but it would show up on the Airbnb website as soon as the upgrade was finished. This was my first time using Airbnb and I thought it was normal that he sent me a text massage directly. I already wired $840 to his account. He asked me afterwards to also wire the rent, $749, to his account. Then I realized something was wrong. I replied to him, saying that my family had an emergency and we had to cancel the trip; I wanted my deposit back. He said he understood perfectly and will refund my money the moment he receives it.

Now it’s been one day and I still haven’t heard back from him. I texted him a few times but he still hasn’t replied to me. The property is in Haiku-Pauwela, Hawaii. The host’s name is David. His email address is davidforster518@yahoo.com.

Airbnb: A Place for Scammers and Fraud

So I will start from the beginning, at the end of September beginning of October I was looking to book an apartment for 10 to 12 people for a friend’s hen party, Airbnb had been recommended to us and even some of the girls had booked and used them i

I will start from the beginning. At the end of September, I was looking to book an apartment for 10 to 12 people for a friend. Airbnb had been recommended to us and even some of the girls had booked and used it in the past with no issues. So off I went in search of an apartment close to the centre of Amsterdam. I found one that looked great, sent the photos to everyone, and we all agreed it would be perfect for us. The listing even said we could add people if needed. I looked through the reviews – all fine – and it even said the host was “approved.” I clicked on the contact host section of Airbnb’s website to make sure our dates were available for next May. I got an instant message back to say they were and an email would be sent for me to secure the booking if I wanted. The email came directly to me, with my full name, a booking number, an Airbnb letterhead, the works… it all looked official.

I followed through the payment service, sent everything over, and let the girls know it was all booked. I then received an email from the “host”, who called himself Frank Bider, to introduce himself, tell me the best way to get to the apartment from the airport, and to let me know if I needed help on things to do or places to go to just contact him. I thought nothing of it and said I would probably contact him closer to the time to find out how I could check in, etc. A few days later another email from Frank came to say that Airbnb had not validated my payment and the confirmation number was incorrect for my booking; a refund had been sent and I could make the booking again if I wished. I asked Frank how long this would take and if he knew what had happened. He replied saying that it was an issue with Airbnb and should be sorted in a few days. I waited 24 hours but received no email from Airbnb about this refund or anything. I contacted them directly, waited, and still heard nothing. I sent email after email to Airbnb but still nothing.

All the time Frank was still in contact with me. He then asked me to send another payment but this time by bank transfer. This was when something in my brain figured it was not right. I was frantically trying to contact Airbnb but I had no response from them. Finally I got the standard robot response saying I had no bookings with them. I sent a copy of all the emails with their letterhead, and then the worst happened. I received an email back from Katie at Airbnb to state although these email had an Airbnb email address, they were not official and had not come from them, stating they would never contact me off site via email to make a payment. I couldn’t believe it. I started to email to ask for help and see what I could do: phone my bank to see if they could help?

Again, Airbnb went silent. There was no contact whatsoever, so I took to Twitter. After days of me sharing bad stories I had found and my experience someone contacted me and said I would receive an email soon. Finally Chris from Airbnb emailed me. I asked time and time again for a phone number but nothing. Chris asked me to send proof of my booking and the money leaving my account so I did. I sent a copy of my statement and all the emails with their letterhead and everything on it. He then asked for a copy of the fraud report I had made to the police so I sent that as well with contact details of the person to whom I spoke. I then received an email back to state that because the emails were not from Airbnb and I paid through a payment system that wasn’t theirs there was nothing he could do. I felt this was a very generic answer and then asked Chris what they have in place for their customers to safeguard them against this type of fraud, as at no point when making a profile on their site or when looking for an apartment were there any notifications or advice to say “don’t do this”, or if you receive a direct email, report it.

Then again I suppose if they did this they would lose customers and scare people away with their warnings. Chris then asked me for proof that I had been on their website in the first place. He asked if I had taken screenshots of the profile or a copy of the web address or anything to show I was on their official website? I thought this is absurd. Who would take a screen grab or snapshot when searching for anything online? I was most definitely not on their website looking to get scammed out of £1000; I was on there looking for accommodation and to book a trip. I advised Chris of this and explained how I though it was ridiculous to ask a customer if he had documented his search on Airbnb’s website to prove he was on their website. I know that this information will be on their servers and they would see I was on there website. He then told me he couldn’t see my profile but backtracked to say he could see I had logged in and confirmed my email address and added another. I replied back to say I had not been on Airbnb since and had not done anything with my account or email address.

When I went on to check this information for myself my account had been locked and stated I must take a photo of my ID before I could log in again. I will not be sending Airbnb or anyone a copy of my ID and think it is a complete joke my account has somehow been locked. The simple answer I keep getting from Airbnb is that without screenshots to prove I was on their website I cannot say I originally went through them for contact or that they initiated this contact between me and this so-called host as I have no proof. Even though all logic would say if I was not on their website why would the fake email of come through to me with an Airbnb letterhead, Airbnb logos and Airbnb information? Why would the fake host contact me saying “thank you for booking through Airbnb” and “Airbnb has not validated your payment”?

The problem with Airbnb is the security is not tight enough. Anyone can be a host and anyone can set up a fake profile. They do not check anything and only after an incident has happened do they start to change things on their website. Their customer service is shocking. I have been going back and forth with them via email this whole month asking for a contact number and only this week did I finally receive a response with a number to call. I have said I will be reporting this to ‘Watchdog UK’, ‘Ripoff Britain’ and other review companies but the problem for me is I’m over £1000 out of pocket. With no light at the end of the tunnel for me to be getting my money back, no compensation, nothing. All Airbnb says is that I can’t prove I was on their website so they won’t compensate me and hope I use Airbnb again. Well trust me… I won’t.