A woman and her spouse booked my room for a night. They came over and everything was cordial. I greeted them, gave them the tour and left them to it. The woman had asked if she could use the washer and dryer. I said yes, so they brought in loads of clothes. That was still okay with me. I left to go have dinner at a neighbor’s house. I received a text from the woman saying there was an emergency. I got up and walked back to my house, where they proceeded to spout lies. Then is when I knew they were only there to wash their dirty clothes. I asked them if they wanted to leave because the issue was they thought I didn’t wash their sheets; they said they sound a strand of hair on the sheets. Before they even arrived I washed the sheets and made the bed. They proceeded to say everything was fine, they would stay and leave at 6:00 AM. I agreed. 6:00 AM arrived, and they got their things together and leave. Now once they left they somehow cancelled the reservation and I didn’t get paid. They stayed the night and left my room a mess. I don’t know if I will continue to be a host after this experience.
I live in the north of Belgium, close to the Dutch border. I booked a nice looking single room for two nights, approximately 50 minutes drive time from where I live. It was the cheapest accommodation in that area. I used Instant Book because I had never had any trouble reaching hosts before. The host, ‘Anna’, had been on Airbnb since December 2016 and apparently, nobody had booked her place yet, since there were no ratings or comments on her page. I thought that was logical since the street she claimed to be living on was in a small, not at all touristy place; it wasn’t close to a city, and not far away enough to be off the beaten track either. Nonetheless, it was perfect for my purposes and every host needs a first guest, right?
On my departure day, I hadn’t heard from Anna. I didn’t know whether she had seen her latest reservation, I didn’t know whether checking in at 5:00 PM was okay, and I didn’t know what her house number was. I called the telephone number on her page before I got into my car. It went to voicemail right away. I really wanted to get away for a weekend; I wanted to go hiking, so I didn’t give up on Anna yet. I drove past the street she claimed to be living in because it was more or less on my way to the nature reserve that was the purpose of my journey. I thought: I might as well see whether some neighbor knows where Anna Hendriks lives, then, when I hopefully reach her, I’ll know instantly whether she is willing to host me instead of when I come back from my hike.
I thought my plan would work out when I saw a house with a rather large name plate: Hendriks. The woman that opened the door was clearly not the Anna from the profile picture. I explained to her that I had booked a room through Airbnb on her street and that I am now looking for its owner.
“There is an Anna living on this street, but she is a young girl,” she responded. “There is also a woman with grey hair but her name is Corry and she doesn’t rent out her rooms either,” according to friendly Mrs. Hendriks.
I thanked her and apologized for disturbing her. I told myself I would not bother her neighbors, Corry and Anna, because it will probably not lead me anywhere. I feel betrayed. I called the host for a third time and left a message on her cell phone. I have the feeling she doesn’t exist, which is a shame, because she has at least one nice neighbor.
I decided to file a complaint against her with Airbnb. I switched on my mobile data and cancelled my reservation. It was too late to get my first night refunded but I did get my second night, according to the automatic Airbnb help menu. Thank god the host has a flexible cancellation policy. I later asked for a refund for the first night but she didn’t respond. Of course not: she doesn’t exist. Nowhere in the Airbnb help centre can I find any information telling me how to deal with hosts that don’t exist. I want to get my money back and I want to prevent other people from booking with Anna. What can I do?
My host’s name is Yvonne based in North Sarasota. This place is a Airbnb train wreck. Do not give her any money. The property is in a beautiful spot, however it’s also in foreclosure. She is looking for folks with money so she can “get a personal loan” ($20k+) to bail her out on her other defaults (yes, it’s more than “just the foreclosure”). As soon as she finds out you won’t cover that for her, things get very nasty very quickly. She will present you with continually moving targets as to proving your personal savings and income information, after moving in. Claiming one fantasy entity after another requires your private financial information for you to continue living there. Imagine what she may use that for.
Yes, there is a “private” bedroom and bathroom. However, she walks in on your private space at will, all the time. There is no central air; it’s there but needs to be replaced. She claims she “will have it fixed soon”… sure. Cooking in the very tiny kitchen is not allowed during the warm months, because there is no air conditioning. Did you see the attached picture of the note denying tenant access to USPS mail delivery service? That’s a federal crime. The US Post Office and only the USPS owns all mailboxes (doesn’t matter if you bought it or put it up – read the federal statute), not some home owner, landlord or tenant. Forget having any friends over; she refuses to allow it and if you do anyway, her behavior to them is atrocious. In addition, she’s permanently on large, daily dosages of opioid pain meds.
If you’re seeking to live with a continually whacked out junkie, this is the place for you. If ever there’s a heroin junkie’s mentality, she’s got it. Does it still sound like an “executive suite” to you? There’s little doubt she is failing to pay her mortgage at all, pocketing the rent she gets, and just waiting out the inevitable conclusion of the foreclosure process. It took some digging to discover she’s in foreclosure. Yvonne, as an owner (not for much longer) and landlord, of course didn’t share that tidbit with her tenant and has no clue I’m aware of the situation. Very sad. Do not enable this woman’s outrageous behavior.
I stayed in a very nice Airbnb in Majorca a few weeks ago. Everything went perfectly and our hosts were very helpful. However, after giving them a good review, we had problems arise. The host claimed that we bleached some towels and pillowcases, and was requesting $361 CAD as compensation. After dealing with Airbnb instead of the host, they are still requesting that I send $156 CAD for a few linens. However, we did not wash any of the linens, nor did we bleach them. Furthermore, that is a ridiculous amount of money for a few linens. There is no proof that we bleached the linens (because we didn’t), and they are still accusing us of this, Make sure that if you are staying at an Airbnb, you document everything, because you never know what they will accuse you of.
My boyfriend and I had paid to stay in someone’s apartment in Barcelona as a last resort because there were no affordable hotels available on our dates because they clashed with a world congress gathering. We arrived at the address of the listed apartment (from a verified host with multiple positive reviews) which lead us down a narrow poorly lit side alley to a building with no lights, locked doors, and appeared to be undergoing construction. Keep in mind this was at 10 o’clock on a Saturday night in a foreign country. We tried phoning and texting the host and got no response. He turned his phone off when I continued to call so we left and found a safe place to sit with our bags while frantically trying to work out what to do. I had never used Airbnb before so never knew what to do in this situation. With help from both our families back home we got a place to stay. In total we had to spend £600+ on hotels for the three nights, which is significantly more than we had originally spent on the apartment.
We tried emailing Airbnb and didn’t get a response. When they eventually did respond they weren’t much help at all and by then we had already sorted out a place to stay. They have now eventually refunded what I originally paid for the apartment but nothing else, meaning we are £400+ out of pocket as a result of this guy’s actions through absolutely no fault of our own (other than not having insurance). I totally understand if I had had insurance that this could of been different but after reading several forums online of people being given compensation by the company I asked why I wasn’t given the same consideration. I was told “every situation is dealt with on a individual case by case basis.” I was massively let down by both this organisation and the host. I understand not every host on this site is a fraud and I probably got one bad egg out of a whole bunch. However, the possibility of this happening is very real even if hosts look reliable so I’d advise anyone planning on booking to learn from my mistakes and be more wary.
I am a property owner in Mallorca and it has come to my attention about two months ago that my photos have been duplicated and are being used by another host on a scam listing. I do not know this host and I have not given him permission to list my property anywhere. In the comment section, clients have also expressed their complaints that the host had contacted them only two weeks before arrival (long after he had already taken their money) that the advertised property would not be available and therefore he could offer them another property. The guests did not choose or agree to this, but they obviously had no choice because they already paid. Airbnb did not help the guests and they do not seem to care about the comments because this should be enough proof for them to be aware of the scam that is going on. I have written to Airbnb to request the listing be taken down immediately but after many messages with different people, I was told that it was not Airbnb’s responsibility to verify contracts between hosts and owners; therefore they could not take the listing down. This is really unbelievable and I am starting to get desperate. I hope someone who has been in the same situation is able to help me. The last thing that Airbnb has done is advise me to send proof of copyright of the photos to their copyright department, but these are my personal photos. I feel they are just trying to keep me occupied and in the meantime, the scam listing is still showing my property without my permission. To protect myself legally, I have reported the scam to the local police, but they cannot help me either. All this has been nerve wracking and very damaging to my property’s reputation. I really look forward to receiving your comments and advice on how to approach this issue once and for all.
I am sharing this because similar stories posted here about a scam in Iceland and Spain are what kept me from getting scammed. I will be collaborating with someone in Geneva for a couple of months and needed to find a place to stay (well technically, I still need to find a place). A friend who lives in Switzerland suggested that I use this website. On it, I found a listing for an apartment that was cheap compared to most of the other apartments in the area (610 CHF/ month for a one bedroom apartment). The ad was certified as ‘verified’. The ad was in French so I emailed the person in French and here is what they replied:
Thanks for your interest in wanting to be my tenant. My name is Klaudia Wannemaker and I’m 44 years old. I bought this apartment for my son during his studies. Now he is back home in Italy permanently. so I am renting the place for an unlimited time. Before we go any further I would like to know something about you, like how many people intend to live in the apartment, your job, and how old you are. The apartment is fully furnished but if you need it unfurnished, you can move the furniture into storage. The rent is CHF 610 per month and includes all utilities listed below:
• High Speed Internet
• Utilities (water/gas/electricity/heating)
• TV Cable
• Parking Spot
The lease is flexible, can be month to month, with a minimum stay of one month to a maximum of 8 or 9 years. The price will not increase monthly, it will remain the same for the whole period that the contract states. About pets: there are no problems if you have pets, as long as you clean up after them. The only inconvenience is that my job doesn’t allow me to leave Warsaw even for one single day. We just hired some new staff and I’m in charge of their training. But this won’t affect you at all. Looking forward to hearing from you soon.
To me, it seemed legit although I found it odd that she was replying in English, and her not being around to show me the apartment came across as an immediate red flag. I continued emailing her because I was not sure yet. Also, I had already told her everything she had asked about me, and I had told her I was looking for a short-term lease. In retrospect, this was obviously an automated response, but what can I say? I was still young and hopeful then. Here is the next email I received:
Thanks for your reply. You seem to be a very nice person and I can assure you we will not have any problems. The apartment has been kept up properly and had a professional, top-to-bottom cleaning. Like I have informed you, the price you shall pay for one month’s rent will be CHF 610 and I also want a security deposit of CHF 1000 (which you will receive back at the end of the contract), with no extra taxes. As for the rent, I want to receive it monthly in my bank account, so I hope it will be no problem for you to wire the money. The apartment is ready for you; all you have to do is to check it and see if you like it. I’ve found a way for us to complete the deal safely and fast so you can check the apartment in less than three days. Nobody can help me show you the apartment because I don’t know the neighbors very well. The solution I’ve chosen is provided by Airbnb. They handle rentals for people who are unable to solve them alone, which are abroad, so they will take care of both the inspection and payment. If you are interested so please email me, and I will send the link with my apartment listed on Airbnb.
She did not answer any of the questions I had asked again (e.g. how far the place was from the University, etc.) and it just seemed more and more suspicious. Here is what I replied:
Hi Klaudia. Thank you for getting back to me. I’m really excited about the apartment, however, I am not comfortable wiring money for a place I cannot see in person. Indeed, I am in the United States and will not be able to come to Geneva until May. I’d love to Skype with you to discuss a solution, or send a member of my family to look at it (I have a cousin who works in Geneva). Please let me know if that would work. I am also invested in seeing the Airbnb listing for the apartment if that is possible! Thank you!
Her “reassuring” answer:
I want to take this opportunity to assure you that there is nothing to be worried about this rental. You can see on my announcement that I have positive feedback with Airbnb and they verified my personal ID. I will try explain to you step by step how this will work. Take a few moments and read my email carefully. First you must reserve the apartment and after you’ve made the booking, you must complete the payment. In 2-3 days after your payment confirmation the agent from Airbnb will come to show you the apartment and give you the contract. The contract is signed by me and you can choose to rent my apartment for a long or short term period. The monthly rent will be the same for whole period. Once you have inspected the apartment you have two options:
Option 1: You will take the apartment and sign the contract for a long or short term period.
Option 2: I don’t think you will use this option, but you’ll tell the agent that you don’t want to rent my apartment and Airbnb will refund you the money in 48 hours. End of the deal. I’ve chosen Airbnb because they offer guarantees for both of us. I will get paid only after you confirm that you will rent my apartment. I need your full name and a mobile number so I can send you the link to my announcement. Let me know if this is acceptable.
At this point, I knew it was all fake and I sure wasn’t going to wire her any money months before I even arrived in Geneva. I was curious to see what kind of Airbnb listing she would show me though, so I gave her my full name and phone number (that had been included in my email signature all along). Here was her final reply:
Hello. Here you have the link:
(NOTE FROM AIRBNB HELL: because this is a scam Airbnb site, we would advise against following this link, but thought our readers should be aware of the address).
To rent the apartment immediately please select the period for one month and click the ” Instant Booking ” button in the listing. On the next page review your purchase information. After you complete the Airbnb steps, they will send you an invoice with the payment details and the confirmation. The funds must be transferred to Airbnb. Thank you.
If you look closely at the URL, you can tell how it is fake. The ‘-online-booking-eu’ part gives it away. That is not the official Airbnb website although it looks just like it. It indeed said that she was a verified hostess: there was a picture of her, and comments of fake previous tenants. When I went on the real Airbnb website I of course could not find her apartment. Oh and about twelve hours after she sent this she emailed me again, pressing me to make the payment and let her know when I have done so because ‘she needed to know ASAP’. You can imagine how colorful my response was. Anyways, after I was done having fun, I reported her to Airbnb and Wgzimmer. Now I am writing this fun post to spread the word as this is apparently a fairly common scam.
Booking two nights away in Melbourne I searched through the listings and found what looked like a reputable host operating in a reputable building in a reputable part of Melbourne. I corresponded with the host and asked about the check-in procedures as I would be arriving after normal hours. They assured me it was very easy: all I had to do was book and pay and I’d be given access to an after-hours key box where I could collect the key. Sounds reasonable, right? I did what a reasonable person would do: booked and paid. Then nothing happened. When I followed up the host just a couple of days before we were due to travel I received an email from some nameless management company in Melbourne, “Apartments Melbourne Domain” requesting me to send a copy of my driver’s license as well as my credit card details, i.e. number, expiration date, and CCV number by email.
The host has subsequently ceased corresponding due to my requests for a refund as I refused to send this information via email and it’s in dispute with PayPal. Neither the host nor Airbnb UK (to whom the money goes) have responded to date, currently 48 hours since I disputed the payment. Hopefully I will get my money back. I’ve since booked with a reputable hotel that doesn’t require this sort of rubbish. If you comply with this kind of demand they would have your name, address, email address, driver’s license number, date of birth, your bank information, and your credit card number including the expiration date and CCV number. Identity fraud by these people is a very real possibility.
In this day and age, it’s not hard to set up a secure online portal for these things. The fact that they haven’t if they require this information to check in makes me wonder why they didn’t. Either they’re lazy and don’t care or it was malicious oversight on their part because it’s quite possible to actually set up a much better system. I’m sure my post will be bombarded by those of you have had great experiences, but think about how much you really know about the hosts to whom you are handing this information. If just one of them does the wrong thing once, what might that cost you? Please share, as I just finished reading a story on Huffington Post about one of their journalists being scammed out of thousands of dollars by a fake Airbnb user, so it happens. This platform needs to mature a lot before it’s user friendly and safe.
I was planning to find an apartment to rent in Vienna long term and used the website jobwohnen.at to look for a place. There I found a really good offer of a very nice apartment, with a really good price and an incredible location. I thought it was perfect and decided to write the person renting the apartment, Matilda Veracruz Barrera. The listing was in German and it seemed really nice. Since I speak Spanish and the name of the contact was clearly from a Spanish-speaking country, I suggested that we could communicate in Spanish. After a short time, I received this message:
“Hello, I just read your email regarding my apartment for rent located in Vienna, Austria. It has two rooms: one bedroom, one living room (51 square meters). I bought this apartment for my daughter during her studies in Austria, but now she’s back home permanently. I’m renting the place for an unlimited time. Before we go any further I would like to know a little something about you, like how many people you intend to live in the apartment, and for how long. The flat is exactly like in the pictures, furnished and renovated. The utilities (cold/hot water, electricity, wireless broadband Internet, digital TV , dishwasher, microwave, refrigerator, washing machine, etc.) are included in the price of the rent. You will have one parking spot, whose rent is 470 EUR month. The guarantee deposit is 1250 EUR, and you get it back when you decide to leave the apartment (you will have to give me at least 30 days’ notice). As for me, you can rest assured that I will never ask you to leave the apartment. My daughter is building her life here. I am too old to move to Austria, so we won’t disturb you. You can use my furniture, or you can also use your own if you prefer. If you decide to use yours, you will have access to a very large and well ventilated cellar, where you can store my furniture. Now, a little bit about myself so we can get to know each other better. My name is Matilda Veracruz Barrera and I’m 56 years old, Deputy Director of the chamber of commerce from Barcelona/Spain, planning to retire in the next two years. I have a lovely husband, Luis Veracruz Barrera, and a 25-year-old daughter, Luisa. I am very proud to say that soon I’m going to be a grandmother. Another member of our family is an 8-year-old Labrador which we all love, so I have no problem if you keep pets. The only inconvenience is that my job doesn’t allow me to leave Barcelona even for one single day. We just hired some new staff and I’m in charge of their training. This won’t affect you at all. I can make arrangements to rent the apartment from Barcelona (on my expense of course). Looking forward to hearing from you soon. All the best from Spain!”
This message to me seemed perfect but also strange, since I suggested that we could speak in Spanish but she responded in English. I thought that maybe this person had this already written in English and was just copying and pasting to anybody contacting her. Now I realize that the listing was in German and the sudden switch to English was weird as well, since I wrote her in German in the first place and just suggested Spanish as an option. I was very naïve and decided to write her back. I was super nice and super detailed with my moving date, and my purpose in Vienna, so that the person would trust me. After that message I received this:
“Gracias por su respuesta, Como te he informado antes, el precio de 1 mes de alquiler será de 470 euros con todas las facturas incluidas en él, y quiero también un depósito de garantía de 1250 euros (el depósito de garantía de € 1250 que recibirá de vuelta al final de la Contrato), sin impuestos adicionales a pagar. Quiero recibir el dinero mensualmente en mi cuenta bancaria, por lo que espero que no será ningún problema para que el cable del dinero. Estoy dispuesto a enviarle las llaves para que pueda visitarlo y ver que se adapte a sus necesidades. La entrega de las llaves y permiso de visualización (firmado por mí), se hará con Airbnb (www.airbnb.com) para asegurarse de que podamos confiar en el otro. Si estás interesado te puedo explicar el procedimiento, así que espero noticias de tu lado porque realmente necesito ocuparme de este asunto. ¡Gracias!”
This message seemed ok. I thought that it was the real deal since it was written in Spanish. The thing is that I gave so many details and this seemed to be a very cold message. Also the Spanish wording is a little bit weird and with some clear mistakes. I thought: mistakes from a Deputy Director of the chamber of commerce? If you put that message into Google Translate you get this:
“Thanks for your reply. As I have informed you, the price of one month’s rent will be 470 euros with all bills included, and I also want a security deposit of 1250 euros (you will receive the security deposit of €1250 back at the end of the contract), without additional taxes to be paid. I want to receive the money monthly into my bank account, so I hope it will not be any problem for you to do a wire transfer. I am willing to send you the keys so that you can visit and see that it suits your needs. The delivery of the keys and permission of visualization (signed by me), will be done with Airbnb (www.airbnb.com) to make sure we can trust each other. If you are interested I can explain the procedure, so I expect news from your side because I really need to deal with this. Thank you!”
Of course they used Google Translate. The whole situation still seemed so fishy but I decided to continue to read her responses. I wrote her a short message saying that I was interested and that I would like to know how the process with Airbnb works. I also told her that I needed the apartment for July and not immediately. I received then this back:
“Hello, the contract is made in your name, and yes, everything is included. First of all, I want to tell you that if you are ready to proceed with this transaction I will need to inform you the steps about how this service works. You will have two days to inspect the apartment before your final decision to rent. I will pay the shipping costs. This is how it works:
- I will deliver the papers to Airbnb.
- After I deliver the papers they will require your payment confirmation of the first month and the guarantee deposit (€470.00 + €1250.00=€1720) to the company. Airbnb will send you a delivery notification to let you know they have the keys and the papers in their custody. Also Airbnb will give you further instructions about the deposit.
- After the payment is confirmed the delivery process will start and when you receive the keys, you will have two days to inspect the property before your final decision to rent.
- If all is in order, you will instruct Airbnb to give me the money. Future rent will be sent directly to my bank account.
- If you refuse to rent the apartment, Airbnb will give you a full refund (€1720.00) and you will give them back the keys and the contract. If you are interested in renting the apartment please send me your information, so I can make the deal: name, address, city, postal code, country, phone number, a copy of your ID, passport or driving license by email (scan or photo) and a picture of you. Thanks!”
Again the conversation was switched back to English with no feedback on my elaborated details. It seemed so fishy at this point that I decided to Google this woman at the chamber of commerce of Barcelona, and I couldn’t find anything. Then I decided to look for Airbnb scams and found a very similar story posted on Airbnb Hell some days ago with a long-term apartment in Iceland. That’s why I’m sharing my story, because it is clearly a scam. I am not angry with Airbnb; they haven’t done anything to me. I cannot say that Airbnb is a good or a bad platform, since I’ve never used it before, but there’s definitely a bunch of idiots outside of Airbnb trying to use it to scam people. This post is just to show people out there to be careful with these kind of offers. Don’t fall into this trap. Fortunately I was careful enough in the end, but some people might fall for this and the amount of money they are asking for is quite a lot. I hope this helps others in similar situations and they will report it here or somewhere else. Please let me know where else can I share my story so people won’t be fooled in the future.
I too have fallen victim to the scam that Airbnb seem to allow to run through their website. I clicked on several advertisements for beautiful apartments in New York that are showing up on their website. I noticed some of the hosts had issues with their calendars not updating and were requesting potential guests email them directly. I thought this was odd, so I Googled “Airbnb email requests” and found an article that talked about how hosts like to vet their guests before allowing them to stay in their apartments and that this was normal for Airbnb. When the host replied to my email stating that the apartment that I was interested in was now booked long term I thought nothing of it. She said she would email me details of another apartment if I would be interested. I was, and asked her to send through the details with a link to the site so I could book. When she sent the details over she didn’t send the link and asked instead for further information on why I wanted to stay in her apartment and wanted a little more information about me. I told her all about my group and why we were wanting to stay in New York, our dream holiday to celebrate an 18th, 21st, 40th and 60th birthday. She responded with the link and said we could book her place.
I was really pleased as I was worried she wouldn’t rent it to us (following what I had read in the online article). I was even more pleased when it was an Airbnb link, as I was worried about it being an unknown site. I clicked the link and got taken to an Airbnb site showing the apartment and a “click to book” button. I clicked the button and was taken to another Airbnb page, this time showing bank details and asking me to send payment via bank transfer. This didn’t appear odd as this is how I had paid for another apartment on a different website and I thought this was safe. Anyway, I emailed the host back and told her payment had been made and she was happy and asked me to ensure I kept in touch and provide a mobile number closer to the time so she could arrange to meet me. I received email confirmation and invoice from Airbnb telling me I was all booked. The next day the money was sent from my account.
The day after Airbnb got in touch to say they believed I could have been involved in an email scam. I phoned them quickly and asked about my booking. They had no record of that nor the person with whom I had been dealing. I started to get upset on the phone and the customer service person told me not to worry; I would be in safe hands and that they would get my money back. She told me she had to pass my case on to someone but to not worry as they would solve this for me. I waited and no one returned my call. I called back later, was told it was being investigated, and again told not to worry, that I would get my money back. I received an email later that night to say that Airbnb accepted no liability as this transaction was done outside their platform which they advise against. They told me this was the end of the conversation and they would not reply to any more of my emails. I tried again and they said they would look into it further. Still there has been nothing; no replies or anything.
You know the worst part? The page is still active, along with several more that I now know to be fake even after I emailed Airbnb with the page link and told them it was still online. I’m not a stupid person; the pages that appeared from the link seemed genuine. I now know that they were just part of an extremely clever scam, one that has cost me and my family our dream holiday. I feel ashamed that I have allowed this to happen to me and my family. I am hoping to seek legal advice but to be honest I am not hopeful. Airbnb needs to take responsibility for what is happening to their potential customers. There are no warning signs on their site so new customers are informed that they only accept a certain form of payment. There are so many reasons why I believe Airbnb to be in the wrong, but no one at Airbnb will even listen. I expect because they are inundated with these complaints, that in itself tells you something.