Identity Theft From Guest, Steps Moving Forward

I wanted to share my story, and hopefully get some feedback. I do not want to be easily identifiable so I will not give detailed specifics. We are Superhosts. We rented our house to a guy that had a verified email, phone number, and an “offline ID.” This guy stole my identify along with a good chunk of money. The police report has been filed, there is a detective assigned to the case, and I’ve been working with Airbnb’s “safety and trust team.” They offered to pay us for Lifelock that we had put on our lives, and also for door locks that we replaced. When I asked about my security deposit, she without hesitation sent us the entire amount, without asking for proof of anything (making us think they know more than we do).

Long story short, this guy booked under a fake name, a fake profile photo (I reverse Google searched it), a drop phone number, and a fake brand new email. Shouldn’t Airbnb be held responsible? Don’t they have a due diligence to properly vet all guests that will be staying at hosts’ homes? Surely this guy’s name that he made up for the profile and the ID name and photo do not match, so do they really check these, or just act like they do since this person wants to book so they can make an extra buck, while neglecting their hosts? The detective is looking into video footage of confirmed activity on the money that was stolen from us, as this will be his best lead. They connected him to another theft of checks around the same area, that same night. So there are at least two incidents in one night, by this guy, under two different names, and the checks were made out to a different name as well.

We do not think Airbnb cares about their hosts as much as they claim, as none of this would have happened had they throughly vetted each guest’s profile. But they did not. They have offered to reimburse the money only if we owe it back, which does not make since. I have not responded to that offer, as I’m waiting on the detective to look at the video footage, so we can identify this guy, so this “guest” will eventually have charges pressed against him. Does anyone think we should go to the media, and make people aware? Does anyone think we should hire an attorney? Does anyone know of any good attorneys that have handled cases in which the host is the plaintiff, and Airbnb as the defendant?

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4 Comments

  1. OMG. This is so similar to my experience. Long story short, this couple made a last minute reservation to my private room listing. They were having trouble paying for the fees (which obviously should be a warning sign), but after 10 hours of effort, their payment finally went through. I decided to trust them and let them into my home on that night (biggest mistake of my life).

    This couple didn’t look legitimate at all, they even appeared homeless with all their belongings in their backpacks. The guy talks in very poor grammar and the girl didn’t talk much. I offered them water, chocolate and a very clean and comfortable room. And the first night went through peacefully.

    However, the next day in the early afternoon. They started to fight very loudly. The guy was accusing the girl of stealing his money, and the girl refused to accept his charges. Eventually, they both stormed out of the house, left all their belongings behind and never came back. Their original reservation is two days but they only stayed for 1 day. But I was glad that my interaction with them is over.

    About 1 month after they left, I got a call from a detective. He notified me that a girl was arrested and they found a check of mine on her. You can only imaging how shocked I was. It turns out that this girl much have taken my mails with her when she stormed out. And one of the letters was some promotional balance transfer checks sent from my bank. She even had the guts to use two of my checks to transfer balance from her credit card to my account.

    I was very mad. Because I think Airbnb could have prevented this incident if they checked this guest’s reservation name with the name on the government ID. Moreover, the detective told me that this girl has done this repetitively, then why is Airbnb still allowing her to make more reservations and still more money from other hosts?

    At the end, Airbnb offered to pay for 1 year of identify theft protection for me. But at this point, this barely seems fair considering all the time and energy that I’ve spent trying to get over this incidence. Not to mention all the stress! As the result, I’m pulling out of the Airbnb hosting experience forever.

  2. Same thing happened to me – Airbnb was useless. We should file a class action lawsuit. They were downright rude and not cooperative with law enforcement.

  3. YES, don’t hesitate go to the media. That is the only way they respond. I’m not sure what part of the world you live in, but there was a very good documentary in the UK a few weeks ago about Airbnb, http://www.channel4.com/programmes/airbnb-dream-or-nightmare

    Time and time again in that film, people say the only way they got Airbnb to take action was by going to the media. Even in one case where a guest woke up to find her host in bed with her!

    I’m not sure if that doc is watchable from outside the UK. It might be on YouTube. But is very very good. Very eye opening. Very validating for me as a neighbour of this nonsense.

    Best of luck to you.

  4. I am from Hong Kong, I just encounter a similar case as well. Steal all my bags and wallet and now looking for help on handling this…

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