Airbnb FRAUD cost me 1460 Euros, & it was preventable!

Airbnb fraud cost me 1460 Euros! They aren’t doing enough to protect their community from fraudsters. I have had many happy trips with airbnb, but after this I will never use them again. They simply aren’t doing enough to protect their customers. I went to book accommodation in Amsterdam for new year, when I saw a message in the description of the listing offering 20% discount through ‘instant book’ (on the actual airbnb.co.uk site), I just had to email the host and they would enable instant booking to make the payment. ‘Fair enough’ I thought, they want to get people in quickly. Makes sense. So I emailed the host with the dates and a request to instant book. I then received an email from Herman (the host) with a link to instant book. The URL is still active https://www.airbnb.com.book.srl/instant/rooms/5913502?checkin=12292015&checkout=01022016&currency=&guests=8 You’ll notice the URL is airbnb.com.book.srl, which at the time i believed to be Airbnb, which it evidently is not. (these links are no longer active after I brought it to airbnbs attention!) So screenshots are attached. Once you click instant book and enter payment details the following page appears with a slightly confusing error message (images attached). https://www.airbnb.com.book.srl/instant/rooms/status?accepted=false&hosting_id=9652369 After a bit of back and forth with Herman (perfect English I might add) I requested the invoice to be sent. I then received the attached email (too long to put here) and stupidly made payment through transfer. I then received emails from a very a very convincing airbnb finance team representative (express@reply-airbnb.com). Emails written as though from one of Airbnb’s real employees, here’s the linked in profile… but i don’t think this poor guy has anything to do with it. At this moment, I started to realize I’d made a mistake! I called my bank who said you can’t stop a payment like this, also notified Barclays (where the money was being transferred to), seemingly to no avail. During this entire process Herman was continuing to email and reassure me that everything was OK and the payment hadn’t come through yet. I also contacted airbnb who said that they had removed his profile and very annoying then decided to tell me never to make a payment away from airbnb (which I didn’t think I had), until they specified bank transfer. I have now followed the link where the initial listing was and it’s still live, this is after airbnb said that Herman’s account has been blocked! It has the same reviews the same host, but different apartment pictures and is on the actual airbnb.co.uk site. So unfortunately it’s inevitable that this will happen again to someone else. https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/1125879?checkin=29-12-2015&checkout=02-01-2016&guests=3&s=R92_NDn9 I really feel Airbnb could have done so much more to protect me during this absolute nightmare. Not only have they allowed the fraudulent account to continue, but make a bigger play on the fact that no payments should be done offline rather than display instant booking everywhere. They say “At Airbnb, we do everything we can to create a safe and trusted marketplace.” I don’t think this is true. I’m now completely skint 2 days before Christmas with a cancelled trip for the New Year. Thanks Airbnb, but NEVER EVER again.

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4 Comments

  1. John- unless you work for Airbnb, maybe lose the all knowing attitude? People aren’t volunteering to be expertly scammed but it’s happening daily to people and all stems from the Airbnb site. These fake ‘hosts” can list without being vetted or reviewed and know exactly how to pull off a sophisticated extortion. It happened to me and I’ve used VRBO, Homeaway and a lot of other sites across the years for business travel. Airbnb are hosting an increasingly porous platform, I lost €1050 on a fake apartment in Amsterdam last month and yes i paid externally.. More depressing than that was the total void of any ownership by Airbnb- every property photo on the site is supposed to be verified by them- clearly not the case if fake hosts can list email addresses within peoperty photos to divert consumers away from the site..

  2. So you are complaining against Airbnb because you paid outside AirBnb website and you have been scammed?You should blame yourself, this sounds ridiculous to be honest

  3. I’m sorry to hear about your problems. It makes me mad because Airbnb are well aware of this type of scam as I told them about it earlier in the year. Unfortunately there is very little online about it so people in future may also get tricked if Airbnb don’t pull their finger out…

    In September exactly the same thing happened to me, but I luckily didn’t go ahead with the booking.

    An apartment I liked the look of had a ‘special offer 20% discount – please contact’ with an email address in the listing. The apartment was owned by a user with several other apartments and hundreds of positive reviews so it all looked genuine. This was one of his new apartments so the discount seemed like a genuine offer.

    I sent through an email and had lots of back and forth with ‘Paul’ who had perfect English and answered everything exactly how you would expect.

    I said I would only make a booking via Airbnb and he said ‘of course’ and sent through a link exactly like you describe.

    The page that opened seemed legit – all the links on the page worked (back to airbnb home page etc) and it had credit card details to fill in. I noticed ‘.slrv’ formed part of the URL after ‘airbnb’ but the only thing that set off alarm bells for me was that there was no Airbnb fee listed after the agreed price.

    I had never used Airbnb before and like to think that I am extremely savvy with the Internet and scams. But I very nearly filled in my details.

    Instead I sent a message inside Airbnb to the host Paul (the listing was still live, with the fake email address still showing within in on the App that I was using.) He was puzzled and said the apartment was available but quoted a completely different price. I asked if his account had been hacked and he confirmed it had but Airbnb had fixed everything the week before. I told him the fake email was still showing in the listing on the App (but it wasn’t on the web browser) so Airbnb has simply not bothered to change the listing on the App even though they knew! The real ‘Paul’ said he would contact Airbnb and I did as well.

    All I got from Airbnb was their standard email about never completing a transaction outside of Airbnb. I emailed again and also spoke to an agent before finally a few days later the listing on the App was changed. There was no explanation, no apology, no thanks for pointing this out and persisting to get the listing changed so no one else could get scammed…

    In the meantime the fraudster emailed me asking if I had completed the booking. I asked him to email me within Airbnb and that was the first time he said anything ‘suspect’ – he claimed he was abroad and couldn’t log into Airbnb as the system would block him logging in from abroad.

    He again emailed me if I had done it (as he was so close to getting his money) at which point I told him I had and left it at that – I ignored his one further email to keep him sweating!

    I assumed that I would be giving my credit card details (with name address etc) to the fraudster. Maybe that is the usual scam, or maybe they always follow up with the bank transfer like in your case. Either way I would cancel your credit card as well as they have those details.

    In the end I booked a great stay with someone else. But having almost been scammed I think Airbnb have major security problems that instead of trying to make people aware of so that they can stay safe, they brush aside so people aren’t scared away from using the site. Of course there will be hacks and scams – but you can’t just issue the same stock warning about not doing transfers. This scam involves credit card details on a genuine looking Airbnb web page. I searched in Sep and there was literally nothing online about this so I hope your post and this reply can warn a few people about this scam (which I’m sure will still be going on.)

  4. Your mistake as you say. NEVER pay a host direct. In fact you can’t even TALK or EMAIL a host before your booking. It’s all done through the Airbnb portal, which is a secure site.

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