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.