Swindle through the Airbnb platform

My daughter found a flat in NY on the Airbnb website. She received an email from the ‘host’ of the flat and also one issued by a fake Airbnb email address (express@airbnb.com pretending to be the real Airbnb, used its buzzwords / terminology and carried the Airbnb logo. It said: “Welcome to Airbnb!” and added that to “get started” they needed her email address. It was signed “Thanks, Airbnb Team” etc. This started correspondence with a duplicitous platform whose sole purpose was to swindle my daughter into paying an Airbnb Inc account with Barclays Bank for a reservation it confirmed with payment instruction. By the time payment was made. We contacted Customer Support and we were told, after rigorous checking of our credentials (how ironic or cynical) that they consider the host to be a security risk – but that we would have to be informed properly by their safety team. There were a number of conversations – each with the same rigorous check (I wonder for what purpose?) and each ending with how they care about their customers; how sorry they are and telling us to wait for contact by the Safety department. This took about 2 weeks. Despite the statement about how much they care, no interest was ever expressed to view the fake exchanges and perhaps learn how their customers are being cheated. This is amazing because for a company that is valued as high as Airbnb, it is obvious that they are operating a platform that ‘leaks’. Either third parties, or perhaps third parties aided by insiders working at Airbnb or ex-workers of Airbnb who are familiar with the engagement process themselves operating these fake operations. We do not know – but it is equally obvious that this scam was not designed for single use but is intended to score many hits. Presumably it does. There is however no-one to talk to at Airbnb. There is no interest on their side to learn more. They continue to operate a leaky platform that confuses and dupes their customers and this can be remedied by regular pop-ups or the use of passwords that protect private information AND by checking their hosts BEFORE they support their fraud by placing their ‘property’ on their website. Is it stupidity or naivety on their part as business managers that stops them from doing this – perhaps it is all too much for them? In any case, Airbnb is remarkably similar to the fraudsters who work as parasites on their sites. Once there is a problem there is no-one to talk to and their use of ‘no-response’ mails has similarities to the email addresses used by the swindlers and purporting to be issued by Airbnb which eventually are returned with the message ‘your message to express@airbnb could not be delivered”. I think this level of care is the lowest I have encountered on the web. I think the disregard for customers losses is unequalled in a travel business. I believe that no-one should use Airbnb as it is a company that is not interested in advancing itself or improving its services to its customers. Its concern is to turn away from the deceit practised around its activity and tell us how much they care and how sorry they are. Don’t bother using them – and running the risk of a swindle that may be encouraged by a leaky platform. Use a hotel. The customer feedback on travel sites for hotel bookings I have found reliable and authentic. Moreover, in entering someone else’s property – God knows to what you expose yourself (leaving aside Airbnb’s platform abuses), especially when you know that (no matter what they say to the contrary) their level of care is abysmal and you are on your own. On the face of theirs appears a hopelessly defective model.

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