Airbnb Consented and Approved of Fraud

I’d like to share with you how I was a victim of a fraud while using Airbnb’s platform and how surprisingly the company is doing nothing to prevent such fraud from continuing to happen. I used Airbnb for the first time to rent two apartments in Amsterdam for myself and seven of my friends, and after browsing Airbnb’s offers I saw that many hosts ask users to contact them via email in order to book the apartment rather than speaking to them on Airbnb (see screen shots below). I talked to a host via email and he sent me a confirmation regarding the booking for two apartments (it looks like a confirmation from Airbnb). I paid the host 2,100 Euros via wire transfer – and lost my money. I acted as many innocent and unexperienced users might do: following the instructions of an Airbnb host listed on Airbnb under the assumption that if information is published on Airbnb then it’s okay to comply, especially when Airbnb said nothing about avoiding this kind of practice when creating an account.

Now there are two major problems with Airbnb regarding this case:

1. Why does Airbnb allow its hosts to publish instructions to its users that are allegedly against Airbnb’s policies? Airbnb claims that they would never ask a user to go out of their site to talk to hosts but they allow hosts do to so and by that allow its users to be scammed by criminals using Airbnb’s site?

2. Even after I talked to Airbnb’s Customer Support and Risk Management Departments and described how the fraud works – the same fraudulent hosts and others were still active on Airbnb, publishing the same instructions to users and continuing to scam people out of their money all under Airbnb’s nose– the company did nothing about it. Even though they were fully aware and knew everything they needed to know about this fraud (as I said, my friend sent them screen shots and a full explanation of how it works), they did nothing. Only after I published the story on Facebook, tagging Airbnb, did they “kindly” remove the fake hosts from the site and there were about six of them in the Amsterdam section alone.

Airbnb is saying that they are responsible for their users’ safety but in practice they are doing nothing to protect their users from criminals using their site and platform. They can and must do so using very little resources, and to add to them doing nothing they also ignored my many emails and phone calls to their support center and responded only after the story was published on Facebook. Is that a user-concerned site and company? Is that the type of security and service a company of Airbnb’s scale should supply its customers? I regret to say that Airbnb’s behavior is shameful and shows just how much they care about the safety of their users and customers: not at all.

Airbnb Amsterdam Scam: Fake Payment Email

I recently went onto Airbnb looking for an apartment in Amsterdam to rent for a weekend. I found a perfect one, sent it to my friend, and we all agreed to book. I clicked on the “contact your host” button on the Airbnb website, checked with the host if my dates were available, and got an email back from an Airbnb email address with a price and reference to confirm and pay. So I paid. I then got an email from the host introducing himself. I thought it was weird that he had my email but then thought we at least we can communicate about things to do and see and the time of our arrival. He then emailed to say that Airbnb did not validate my payment and that there was a refund coming back to me; Airbnb would send another payment reference. I contacted Airbnb about my refund and was told they had no information or record about a booking. I hoped for the best and that this was some sort of mistake.

I was constantly sending emails to Airbnb but getting little to no response back then finally I was told I hadn’t requested a booking or sent payment through them. I forwarded the email I received back to them. Then the worst email came:

“We are sorry to inform you this email did not come from us at Airbnb. Although it has an Airbnb email address and has been made to look like the company’s email, it is not one of ours.”

How had I received this email, from someone who had my email address and knew I was looking? The host of the apartment had emailed me back from the contact sent through Airbnb. I contacted Airbnb again to see what safeguards they put in place for their customers. Again I waited constantly for a response to be told they can’t do anything as the payment wasn’t through them. I am still trying to get to the bottom of this and see what they put in place for their customers if anything, and if they don’t why they don’t. Why don’t they validate their hosts like their websites states? Whatever happened to companies safe guarding their customers at the end of the day? Airbnb put me in direct contact with this scammer. I am still currently trying to sort this out but the more and more I search the more and more I see I am not the only person. In fact, there are hundreds out there just like me. Do not book through Airbnb. I’m a little over £1000 down the drain and nothing can help me.

Airbnb Villa Scam Cons Families on Holiday in Ibiza

We have recently been the victim of a scam on Airbnb that cost us nearly £4,000. My partner, my two children (5 and 1), and I wanted a last minute getaway due to a stressful few months, so we booked cheap Ryanair flights to Ibiza with the hope of finding somewhere to stay last minute and managed to stumble upon the Airbnb website through Google. Before this point, I’d never heard of Airbnb. I registered with the site and contacted a couple of hosts regarding availability but had no luck in finding anything as the places we could afford were fully booked. We had almost given up and nearly cancelled our flights as we couldn’t find anywhere to stay but at the bottom of the list of properties I saw some villas that said ‘others you may be interested in.’ I clicked on an amazing looking villa that showed our dates were still available. It was still out of our price range but as we were due to fly in less than two weeks we contacted them to see if they could offer us a late deal.

We didn’t hear anything for a few days and then I had an email through Airbnb from the host, saying her messages had not been getting through to her and she had been told by Airbnb to put her private email address on one of the pictures so she could receive the messages that way. We asked about the dates available via her email address to be told they were available and we managed to get the price down to £3,000 for the nine nights plus a £600 deposit which was still very much over our budget. However, we were thrilled about this as the villa had five bedrooms so we thought we could invite some friends over with their kids and make it a holiday of a lifetime, splitting the cost of the villa. We invited two couples along with their four children, who also booked flights to Ibiza and were going to stay for a few days each. As we had never used this website before we weren’t aware of the payment system or the way the website worked in general but we asked a few people about booking on Airbnb as we were a bit wary; the people we spoke to said it was a legitimate company and it would be fine.

We were emailing our host back and forth and asked how we should pay and she said she could not take the payment directly and that it would have to go through Airbnb. Rather, she would send them the details there and then and we would get an email confirming the reservation and details on how to pay. We received a very official looking Airbnb email, from an Airbnb email address with a confirmation booking number and details of payment by bank transfer to an Airbnb host. Like I said, we had never used the site before and the email appeared to come from Airbnb so we assumed this was the system of payment, as when I set up my profile on Airbnb I received no warning about how to pay other hosts correctly. Instead, there are various references of ways to pay littered across the site, including “instant book”, “contact host” and “expedite credit card payment”. These create enough confusion so that when an email is received from someone listed as a verified user you do not doubt it.

We paid the £3,600 by bank transfer on 01/08/16 and were still in contact with the host as we had various questions, e.g. did they have a travel cot, how far was it from the airport, etc. We were in contact with them up until the night before we were due to fly to Ibiza and the host even offered to pick us up from the airport but we said we had hired a car and we just needed the address. The host didn’t reply that night with the address and the following morning we rang her mobile number various times, contacted her by Whatsapp, and emailed her. By this point we were getting very worried as we were due to leave for the airport that afternoon. I contacted the Airbnb helpline and spoke to a lady to whom I gave the confirmation number, but she could not find my booking and suggested I contact customer services who would look into the matter for me. They did not have phones and I could only contact them by email.

I was furious by this point as I could not believe that if you have a problem or issue with a booking that you cannot talk to a human being in person and could only by email, hoping that you are able to get a response before you travel. I did get a response quite quickly luckily enough but it appeared to be a standard automated email that was not personal or did not sympathise with my situation at all. I gave the representative all the details that I had of the contact I’d been dealing with and I received a further blunt automated response back to say there was no booking and nothing Airbnb could do to sort out the situation or offer a refund as we paid outside of their system (which we didn’t realise we were doing). That would be the final email we would receive.

I’ve since had another email through Airbnb from another ‘lady’ asking me to provide further details of myself through her personal email address in order for her to accept a booking request, which I assume is another fraudster trying to take advantage. So it seems to still be happening on a regular occurrence. To summarise, we lost £3,600 for a villa advertised on the Airbnb website that I assume did not even exist! I had to tell my excited five-year old who had his case packed all ready to go that we were no longer going on holiday. We had to cancel our flights (another £356 lost) as we could not afford to stay anywhere else at such short notice. Our friends also had to cancel their flights and tell their children there was no holiday. We are still paying off a holiday we did not go on and will do for some time. Overall our loss was nearly £4,000! I am flabbergasted that the customer service for such a large company like Airbnb is so poor and they could not even apologise or compensate my family for the money we have lost. Since we were victims of this scam I have Googled Airbnb scams and found that this is not an isolated incident as articles have been written in the Guardian (04/06/16), The Huffington Post (27/01/16), and The Telegraph (20/03/15), just to name a few.

Regarding victims that have fallen prey to fraudsters on the site. It was suggested in one of the 2014 articles that a warning be issued to new subscribers warning them of the danger of fraudsters on the site and a guide be given on the correct payment process. It seems this was not looked into or carried out as had it been, then I would not have been a victim of fraud and lost £3,600. How are they allowing people to advertise villas and apartments on the site that do not exist? Are they checked out and verified before they advertise or can anyone post a rental on the site? I just don’t understand how this is happening! I wanted to write this story as a warning to others so the fraudsters cannot do this to anyone else.

Strenuous Hike to Airbnb Cottage: Unable to Warn Others

My wife used Airbnb to rent what was advertised as “a charming fisherman’s cottage” in La Caleta near Salobrena, Spain. There were some nice photos of the view, but no reviews posted. First lesson learned: if there are no reviews, pass on by. The photo showed an uphill path to reach the cottage, but there was no mention of the fact that there were actually over 250 steps, most of the time steeply uphill, to get to the cottage. The renter mentioned the place was “not for [the] disabled” but my wife and I, in our 60s, are both active people; this climb to the cottage was really hard, especially carrying something in the August heat.

A few days after we left the cottage, my wife suffered a complete hamstring rupture in Granada. I am not claiming there was a cause and effect relationship, but a week of doing that climb (and coming back down was also challenging) couldn’t have helped. The information on the cottage should have stated “uphill climb of over 250 steps to reach the front door may be challenging for older renters or anyone with potential leg problems.” That’s all I would ask. Unfortunately, I was too busy tending to my wife’s accident and the aftermath to even think about posting a review on the site before the deadline ran out and there does not seem to be any way to contact Airbnb directly with a problem like this.

I would never, never consider this “service” again. There is no real accountability other than a bad review, but in our case there was no review at the beginning. We missed the two-week window in which to add one. Hopefully, the next renter will be young and athletic. There were a couple of other issues with the cottage, like the fact that the sun shade over the terrace got ripped to pieces by the wind and even after informing the owner, nothing was ever done, making the terrace unusable during much of the midday. But the accessibility was by far the worst part of this story.

What Amsterdam Taught me about Airbnb

Up until my visit to Amsterdam I had only good experiences with Airbnb. Some better, some worse, but all were above average, until I got to this horrific apartment. The pictures seemed okay, but nothing prepared me for this stoner’s place. The shower was filthy and I suspect that they used the same towel they gave me. Airbnb did give me back the money for one night after I sent them a video of the shower, but it wasn’t without a lot of fuss. I didn’t leave earlier because I landed at 22:00 and didn’t have anywhere else to go. On one night the hosts forgot to take their key to the house and woke me up in the middle of the night to let them in. To make a long story short, I’ve learned my lesson: use Airbnb only for whole apartments and never for a room.

Naturally, none of this information got to Airbnb since they have a policy of publishing a review only when you are reviewed by the host, and since I knew I’d get a bad review, I never reviewed this apartment.

Airbnb Theft in Safe Neighbourhood

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Penny wise pound foolish stay. This place is a trap! Don’t stay here if you don’t want to be robbed. At first glance, the apartment looks secure. Decent neighbourhood and location, locked access to the block only by residents, and a double lock door gave us a false sense of security. While we were out, someone broke in and stole all our valuables. We had bought high value items amounting to 7000 euros. Despite locking the door and windows, the thief broke in with no sign of forced entry. He was a true professional, or it was an inside job. Besides stealing our stuff, we also found a knife in the bathroom, left by the thieves. Thank goodness we didn’t come back during the break in.

Throughout the stay, we didn’t meet the owner (Ben). Only his assistant, Gabi, who helped with check in, and his cleaner lady. Both have keys to access the apartment. After the incident, the owner did not bother to meet us, check his apartment, nor lodge a police report with us. Talk about being unhelpful. In my conversations and texts with Ben, all he could offer was an apology whilst constantly defending his Gabi and the cleaner as innocent. In conclusion, this seemingly safe looking apartment is a tourist trap where thieves can simply walk in and out with all our belongings without leaving a trace. The apartment looks nothing like the nice photos, and the owner, although quick to respond with smooth words in good times, offers no help nor takes any responsibility when a crime takes place in his apartment. I hope no one has to go through the ordeal we had to endure. We left a thorough review of the host. It was up on his Airbnb page for a week and unfortunately I received an email from Airbnb today saying it “includes sensitive, personally identifiable information” and has been removed. Airbnb didn’t even enquire about the knife in the bathroom!

Airbnb: Unreliable, Unscrupulous Company

Airbnb is a terrible, negligent company with awful customer service. I booked an Airbnb in Italy three months prior to my arrival. My credit card was charged and confirmation emails were received. The day of check in, I emailed my host, who said he had no record of my reservation. I called Airbnb and discovered they screwed up the billing and reservation; they never communicated to the host that I paid. They admitted it was 100% their fault. I spent four hours dealing with issues (stress, international phone calls, shoddy internet, unhelpful Airbnb hotline, seven-month pregnant wife, etc.); finally, I was forced to book an expensive hotel as a last minute alternative since everything else was booked.

Airbnb had awful customer service; their offer of compensation was severely inadequate for the additional time and costs that their screw up caused me; they still have not refunded my credit card. Do NOT use this company. If they can’t handle something as basic as this then how can you trust them?

Airbnb Nightmare in Santa Margherita, Italy

My daughter and I were traveling in Italy and we decided to spend our last ten days on the Italian Riviera. We found an apartment in Santa Margherita that seemed to suit our needs: walking distance to town, two bedrooms, nice views. Our host, Angela, was super sweet in her responses to me prior to booking, confirming that she has wifi (very important to both of us) and the town was within walking distance. She said her English was not great but she communicated very well prior to booking. After booking, I had to ask her for the address, twice, as it was not given to me through our Airbnb booking. She also told me to converse with her son via WhatsApp instead of with her through Airbnb messaging. I told her that I do not have WhatsApp and would continue to contact her through Airbnb.

Incidentally, my daughter was sick so I was anxious to get to the apartment and get her in bed. When we got to Santa Margherita after a long train ride (without wifi), I found a message from Angela saying that we needed to copy our passports before she would allow her cleaning person to let us in to the apartment. I asked her where we could have that done (at 4 pm). The only information she would give us was to ask around a certain piazza in town… which we did – two places – and were told that there were no shops that had copying services. So we asked Angela if she would please at least let us drop off our luggage before we continued to look for a copy place and to please give us an actual address of a copy place (nowhere on her Airbnb page did it say that we had to copy our passports). My daughter and I had to keep going to the harbor to get free wifi to contact her.

This was Angela’s reply:

“Sandy, I’m telling You the way to reach the House, not going around the city. Piazza caprera, via palestro, piazza mazzini, via belvedere. from Piazza caprera to Piazza mazzini there are shops for the copy. You had to ask , no sing out of door. I’m sorry for Your daughter but I give You phone of my son , he speaks well , Why you haven’ call him? Why You havent’ call taxi? with heavy luggages and daugther not in well? I in Liguria the streets are steep, no good for person not in well and heavy luggages. Yesterday i give You a lot of facilities, but you wat speak only with airbnb airbn site!!! I you want to help must help!!! In my ad I specified that it was necessary passport copy ’cause you did not before ? I suggested You different formulas but you refused, how may can help You if you don’t want?”

Anyway, my daughter and I went to the apartment, which was up an extremely steep hill (not advertised). Angela’s housekeeper met us, at which point I started to cry as my daughter was so sick. The sweet housekeeper asked me for five euros and went into town to copy our passports but asked us not to let Angela know that she had let us in. The apartment was disgusting. The “views” were of a parking lot and a construction site. There was white powder all over the tile floors; we assumed it was for ants, which were everywhere. The TV didn’t work (no biggie), the shower didn’t work (could only take baths), the beds were horribly uncomfortable, the apartment above was under being renovated so we heard nothing but saws, and we could only get one of the burners on the stove to work, which was enough to make my daughter tea (but there was no teapot).

Once the housekeeper returned, I went back into town to use the free wifi and asked Angela four times for her wifi address and password. No response. So, I contacted Airbnb. No response. The next morning, I got a message from Angela saying that we had to go into town and PURCHASE wifi! Airbnb finally wrote back saying that it looked like my problem was solved because Angela responded. I wrote back saying that we were in an Airbnb nightmare. Airbnb called me. Mick, in Ireland, took our case and told me that he was stopping payment to Angela. I told him, in that case, we needed to pack our belongings as her correspondence to me was so mean (I have many examples) that she would probably confiscate our belongings. So, my ill child did just that and went back into town. However, Mick never loaded the right page to my Airbnb conflict page so I was unable to upload pics of the dirt, the broken window, and the things that weren’t working. I was sobbing.

Finally, I called, again, and got Brittaney in Denver, who loaded the correct page. Once she had our pics, she helped us find another apartment in the next town, Rapallo, with our host, Luca, who was such a sweetheart. And we loved his apartment. He met us, didn’t speak English but had a friend on his phone who acted as our interpreter, brought us espresso pods, milk, bottled water, and croissants (none of which Angela provided). Luca, alone, restored our faith in Airbnb. However, Angela then tried to get 1500 euros from us, although our total fee for our stay at her place was a little over 900 euros. It took two weeks but Airbnb finally closed the dispute – my guess is because she never proved damages – which, of course, there were none. I know that this site said it doesn’t want too many curse words but — Angela, you’re an asshole and shouldn’t be a host! I purposely left out that I am an Airbnb super host: five stars, with 80 ratings. This type of host ruins things for the rest of us. Angela still has her listing and no one looking at her listing will ever know of my nightmare experience, unless they happen to look here. Thanks for letting me vent.

Awful Experience with Airbnb in Corsica

We had planned our trip to Corsica months in advance and decided to rent on Airbnb. Two weeks before our arrival, the host canceled our reservation and it was impossible to find anything. Airbnb’s compensation was ridiculous (only 160 euros for 5 people renting a house at 2000 euros!) which didn’t allow us to get ANYTHING else on the website (either crazy expensive or not available anymore). We tried to contact customer service multiple times in vain, and the only time we had Airbnb on the phone we got asked to do as many requests as possible. They said they would call the next day to see how our situation progressed… which they DIDN’T. Nobody has helped at all (and as stated in their website policy they do specify they will help!). We searched nonstop by ourselves for three days to find a place that we ended up having to pay 1000 euros more because of that (and had to pay with another account because we didn’t have this amount!) and surprise… the 160 euros compensation coupon didn’t EVEN work! We tried to talk to customer support again to discuss the situation and nobody replied. Eventually, they REFUSED to talk. We believe this is EXTREMELY scandalous and a breach of contract from Airbnb. We would like Airbnb to reimburse the difference that we had to pay to get a new place.

Negative Review: Host from Venice

We were unlucky during our trip from Zagreb to Venice. We missed our bus due to some administrative fault with the bus company in Venice. We had no choice but to take the next bus which was at 10:00pm that night, so our timing was way off to check in to our Airbnb. We messaged our host about it in advance, telling her that we had no choice but to check in late. She asked us to pay an extra 40 euros for the late check in. Eventually, we paid. So during our stay in Venice, we paid the city tax (3 euros per night), cleaning fees (20 euros in cash), and 40 euros for a late check in. In regards to the cleaning fees, there’s a problem with her listing: she is NOT SUPPOSED to collect cleaning fees in cash, but she did. When I tried to resolve this issue with her, she just brushed me off by saying that the cleaning fees are to be paid to the lady who cleans the apartment.

I’ve submitted a report to Airbnb about this and they are still not getting back to me. Initially, I didn’t want to post this story over here but I’m left with no choice as she left me a negative review (which I couldn’t view until I wrote a review for her). I ended up writing a good review for her but was shocked to find a very negative review! Please, those who are going to Venice: DO NOT RESERVE THIS HOST!