Fake Long-Term Rental, Scammers Pretending to be Airbnb


I was recently scammed out of $2,800 for paying what I thought was a security deposit and the first month’s rent for an apartment on Airbnb in Australia. I found the initial listing on Domain; it looked like a private rental with the listing asking any interested parties to email rentscall@gmail.com. I had a response back from the owner ‘Harald Grabner’ (lab.teacher@novartis-pharmaceutical.com) who explained the apartment to me, attached scanned copies of his passport and license (see above), and explained that as he lived in Germany the rental (inspection and handover of keys) would be handled by Airbnb.

He explained the process and said that in order for Airbnb to put me in their system there would be an upfront payment (the $2,800 mentioned above) which would be held by ‘Airbnb’ and released to him if I decide to take the apartment. If I didn’t like the apartment, it would be immediately refunded. He told me that Airbnb would be in contact soon.

I received an email from ‘Airbnb’ with deposit information, which looked exactly like the other real emails I had received from Airbnb in the past. I transferred the money and in a few days time got confirmation from ‘Airbnb’ saying the money had been received and that an agent would be in contact to make arrangement to view the property but wouldn’t be for a couple of days, as he needed to come from Perth. I was never contacted and the real Airbnb has no record of my payment or emails. Beware: the emails looked exactly like the real Airbnb emails. The real Airbnb will never ask you to transfer money off their site. Lesson learnt.

Posted in Airbnb Guest Stories and tagged , , , , , .


  1. I picked up an add from the site pisos.com yesterday about a beautiful flat in Barcelona. I contacted the owner throught whatsapp and he sent me an airbnb link with coments from guests that looked really suspicious because they were so generic. Today I went to open the link from pisos.com that I had said and the website had shut it down due to possible fraud. And thats hay I opened up this post. The scam is still very alive. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Unfurtunetly.today.i.had.the same problem.here in.warsaw. i send 1200.euro.and lost the money. I.find.the flat.from.craglist and send a.mail first.later.the.same

  3. Thank you very much for sharing your experience as it has saved me $4400.
    I also found add on domain and contacted landlord by email. After few messages I was received email that looks like Airbnb but when I checked details it was actually from reservation@airbnb-apps.com and this email has directed me to http://ssl-airbnb.com-app34.com/rooms/?pid=link=BNB-d3d9446802a44259755d38e6d163e820-1facd292a80e60987404784284d9614a person I was in touch with uses name Antoine Grebller

    • Chris

      I’ve also experienced the same and have been asked to transfer $4000 just to inspect the apartment with the assurance that a full refund will be provided, by the same person- Antoine Grebbler from an ad posted on domain. Scam!

      This is what happened:
      . I responded to an ad (too good to be true) on domain
      . I received an email from a personal email address introducing herself and that she’s curreny in NZ mending other properties, attached photos of the rental I was interested in- utilities and furniture included in the rent (unreal)
      . Explained to me that airbnb will be managing the property im interested in
      . At this point the domain link has gone offline
      . Then said I need to pay airbnb and that it will be held for 2 days before I can inspect the apartment, should I not be interested a full refund will be given on the day.
      . Offered to send me a link to make the payment

      At this point of the conversation, the fish smelt so bad I realise it was definitely fraudulent. I hope others will beware too.

  4. Did you transfer from your own bank account? ring the bank and say there is a mistake and the details you were given were wrong / you put in the wrong details because of your worsening eyesight. (Play it up! Get that sympathy!)

    It’s a myth that the banks can/will do nothing. I have been contacted by my bank a few times when deposits were made that shouldn’t have/were from a hacked online bank account and that they were reversing the funds. Scam guy I’m guessing is using a stolen bank account or the account was made with fake/false ID.

    Or say that the transfer was unauthorised and you don’t know who did it. Say your facebook page also had some blocked login attempts from Russia after using the free wifi at McDonalds today. Then your workplace IT manager informed you the hackers might have got your bank account login details when you logged in using the free open wifi. (it’s quite possible, trust me :-).

    Say you didn’t notice until today / now. Sound panicky and ask the bank to lock your credit cards as ‘them hackers’ might have those numbers too and to reset your online banking passwords.

    Second option definitely works alot of the time, especially if there is still funds in their account that can be returned. But technically you could be in trouble if they get you to sign a statutory declaration saying you didn’t make the transfer. But hard to prove you didn’t or did equally if it ever comes to that.

    I used to work for BankWest doing fraud related work. I saw the same scams day in, day out. That’s why saying you logged into your bank account while using free public wifi will help, easiest way hackers steal your details and always made me go ‘uhhhhhhhhh’ in my head when they say “why yes I do use the free Wifi at x location”.

    At the very least inform the bank were you made the deposit to about being scammed so they can freeze / investigate his account. Even email them a copy of the ID he gave you.

    And remember that this guys life is so shit that he has to resort to stealing money in this way to stay alive. He has to cause misery and hurt to people he will never meet as a daily occurrence because that is all he can do. He can’t function in our society. He is broken.

    Although it’s weird to say, but feel good about the fact that you don’t have to scam people to get what you want in life. If you can understand that it wasn’t a personal attack against you but you were just another number to him to steal from because he is so worthless at doing anything else you’ll start to feel a bit better.

    The scammer is probably sitting on the end of his bed trying to convince himself that his life is worth continuing, that someone wants him. But they don’t and that’s why he does what he does and probably needs heroin everyday just to make it through. Feel better in that knowledge.

    Peace and chicken grease

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