Illegal Scams and Fraud Run by Airbnb Hosts

I am new to Airbnb but my college kid and her friends use it when they travel. I thought I’d give it a try. What I have learned is that as a guest there seems to be a lot of identity validation requested and they ask for a lot of information. At first I took some comfort in this. Then I tried to reserve my first property. The host claimed on the listing that they have trouble updating their calendar so to email them to confirm availability. Not thinking too much of it, I did that and they responded promptly. They then said to get started they would need my name, address, and government-issued ID. I wasn’t sure if they meant put it into the platform or send it directly (which I would never do). Anyway I used the platform to request the reservation and woke up to an automated email from the Airbnb Trust & Safety team saying I should never contact hosts directly off the platform; the host is now being put through a verification process. They said they were suspending the host’s account.

So it doesn’t appear that there is much of a host verification process at all. In fact, this looks like an identity theft scam. I wanted to point out this detail to Airbnb but their automated alerts do not mention any way to discuss this with them. From what I can tell, there is absolutely no way to communicate with the operators of the platform. The way they treat someone using their platform for identity theft, a very serious crime, is to simply remove their account. I’m sure that will really scare them off. Assuming they actually know the identity of these hosts and I could correspond with someone on the platform about this fraud, I would expect them to alert the relevant authorities. Their behavior is both irresponsible and negligent.

I found Airbnb Hell searching for any way to contact Airbnb and I am concluding that it simply does not exist. Not wanting to give up on one bad first impression I went to book a second property. The 24-hour mark has almost passed and I haven’t heard anything from this host either. I guess I’ll take a third swing but then it’s three strikes and I’m off the platform. I know there are many wonderful and responsible hosts on the platform but Airbnb appears to be doing next to nothing to filter the bad and fraudulent ones. It seems you can post listings that you have no legal right to rent out; how can that be their practice? What I have learned is you have to do your own vetting of the host and be very careful. They could be frauds and criminals, and Airbnb does little to prevent them from using the platform. If anything goes wrong you are on your own.

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