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.

Bait and Switch: Unethical Airbnb Owners

This story is regarding my Airbnb rental and my host, Caroline. On December 17th, 2016 I made a reservation with Caroline to rent a home in San Pedro, CA, I received confirmation of my reservation and at that time my credit card was charged $1,829 for a one-week rental of the home. The rental dates were from February 18-25, 2017. On December 18th, 2016 I wrote to ask Caroline whether, during our stay, we could have a luncheon for my 90-year-old mother in law. She wrote back saying that would be no problem. Then, on December 19th, 2016, I was shocked to receive the following email:

“Good morning! I spoke with the owners this morning again about your booking and they are really worried about a party and are not keen to it any longer. They went to a neighborhood party and a few people mentioned that they were not happy about the last party and would report them. I’m sorry. I wish I could change their mind and they are sorry too but they can’t afford the risk. I hope you guys can understand. They also mentioned the house was booked at $200 and that they can’t afford to stay at a nice hotel for that and that they’d prefer a minimum of $250 per night. I’m not sure how our minimum got changed to $200 but that wasn’t correct. There’s been some software changes in the system but we can’t figure out how that could have changed. I hope this isn’t all too disappointing. I’ve never asked for a guest to cancel but this is what the owners want me to do. If you guys can make it work then I’ll need you to accept the changes or if it can’t work, which I’d understand, then you can cancel. Again, I’m really sorry about having to chance this on you. But I hope you’ve got enough time until February to choose another place if that may be.”

I had made a reservation in good faith to rent this property and now, with less than 60 days until the short-term rental began, I was being told the rental cost was being increased by 24%. As this rental was found on Airbnb, I contacted them to ask about this uncomfortable situation. I was contacted by two customer service representatives who said this was absolutely not acceptable behavior, that it was a “bait and switch” tactic, and against Airbnb’s policies. A few days later another representative from Airbnb contacted me and said she would work to resolve the situation. Instead, on December 27th, 2016, they informed me my reservation was being cancelled. I believe the actions taken by Caroline were illegal under California State Law, specifically regarding short-term rentals: “If you have a month-to-month (or shorter) periodic rental agreement, the landlord must give you at least 60 days’ advance notice if the rent increase is greater than 10 percent.”

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.

Bait and Switch: Double Price in Spain

My husband and I booked a room for four nights in Cartagena, Spain. It was a good price and decent reviews. Shortly after booking the host contacted me to say he made a mistake on the price and it was actually double. He said I booked too quickly and he didn’t have time to change the price. If we wanted to have an enjoyable time at his place we should pay the higher rate. I checked the price a few days later and it was still the same. I declined the offer of the higher price and said I would find other accommodations as the new price is more than what we wanted to pay. I immediately reported to Airbnb and have yet to hear a reply. I discovered a few days later that we had actually been charged for the room we declined based on the new price. I have yet to hear from Airbnb about a refund. I contacted the hosts to let them know that this was a very dishonest practice but they don’t seem to care. I guess I will have to contact visa and let them know that this was a fraudulent charge.

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.

Scamming Slumlord in China Protected by Airbnb

I booked an Airbnb unit in China, a simple one-bedroom entire home/apt. When I showed up, I had (surprise) eight roommates, no lock on my bedroom door, and cockroaches and trash everywhere. The house was maintained like the worst college dorm you could imagine. I left immediately and Airbnb refused to refund me because I didn’t call them in the first 24 hours (try traveling to mainland china and using your mobile phone). Their slumlord host (who has my bad review and several other bad reviews in Chinese) is able to keep scamming unlucky Airbnb customers and Airbnb keeps their fees and listings. Translate reviews. Don’t trust Airbnb.

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.

Search for Respite in Florida Turns to Airbnb Scam

I’m a recovering cancer patient and I went to Sarasota, Florida for respite and to look for a permanent home. I used to live close by there and enjoyed what the city had to offer in the art and culture areas. The efficiency apartment I thought I was renting for more than a month turned out to be a sort of converted single car garage without many of the listed amenities, i.e. pool view, Internet, el fresco table, privacy. Tiny windows were blocked by bicycles hung on hooks and there was no real entrance. Instead, there was a wooden gate with a padlock. The garage faced a storage shed, recycle bins, and a large lumber pile with critters. The shower was smaller than my son’s coffin. The host and his wife were very nice. If you want to be scammed, nice people do it in a charming way. There was a puppy (this was August 2016 so it may be a little bigger now) and two little children, not the one little child in the advertisement. The apartment was not across the street from a bus stop, and I don’t recommend that you stop here, period.