Airbnb Property Fraud, Long Con Scam in London

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I would like to report that my husband and I were just victims of an elaborate property fraud here in London by a long con Airbnb scammer. We lost our entire apartment deposit and what we thought to be our lovely new London flat we had been working for months to save money for and were preparing to move into this Monday, April 30th. I really want to make other consumers and families looking for new apartments aware of the potential dangers and get our story published to raise consumer awareness. It’s shocking what happened; I’ve never heard of such a thing.

As far as I can gather from police and what has happened so far, the situation is as follows. We saw a property advertised on Gumtree in our zone in London when we were looking for a new flat to rent for this year. We contacted the advertised “landlord” via phone to chat and set up a time to view the property for rent. We went the next evening in person to see the apartment after work for a walk through viewing. All seemed normal: there was a man who met us, and showed other couples through after us. Nothing seemed off. We even went back a second time for a second viewing.

We spoke to the “landlord” a few more times. He created a tenancy agreement. I had him amend several clauses on the rental agreement before we all signed the final agreed tenancy agreement. We sent over the bank transfer deposit for the property. We received an emailed receipt. We were told he would contact us a few days before the move in date to hand over keys and do a final walk through.

All seemed fine and normal until this week when my husband was unable to reach the landlord all week. Getting concerned, we walked to the flat – it’s in our local zone – to knock on the front door. A couple answered and said they were staying there until today, Saturday, April 28th, renting it via Airbnb. They told us the name that they had been given for the “host” who rented it to them, which was a different name than what we had been given as the landlord’s name for the property, the person who had showed us physically inside of the flat, drawn up our tenancy agreement, and taken our deposit.

We went home and found the property advertised on Airbnb by the host’s name (name now changed in Airbnb, I noticed) the couple had given us. I logged into my current Airbnb account in order to chat with the “host.” At first I thought maybe everything was still okay, and that the landlord would still contact us as I saw the flat was marked as not for rent at all after Saturday except for three days in May (which was odd, because we were supposed to be moving in Monday, April 30th).

I was hoping it was an error on the part of whoever was temporarily renting it out on behalf of the landlord on Airbnb. The host’s bio on Airbnb said he was a professional property manager. I saw 22 other listings, so I thought maybe it was a company. Wanting to investigate further, I asked if the property was still for rent. The host said it was, and told me to go ahead and book the dates in May. I asked for his phone number; he refused unless I confirmed the booking. I then asked for address confirmation, and the “host” gave me another post code, which was for another address, so that all seemed immediately alarming and suspicious given we were supposed to move in this upcoming Monday.

We phoned our bank immediately, and sure enough, the bank details we had been given weren’t even for the same bank name. Our hearts sank. We reported the fraud to the bank and started preparing for the next preventative steps. I decided to return the next evening after work to the flat. We again knocked on the front door of the apartment. The current Airbnb guests said they had called their host who agreed to let us have his phone number.

We called the host and he said he was a manager from a property management company called Prime Estate Agents, and his company had been managing the property for years. He claimed that one of his tenants at the property had conducted the scam, and had also taken deposits from other couples as well. He said although he was willing to cooperate with the police, he would give me no further information. However, I was welcome to visit his realty office.

When I went to see him yesterday, he was extremely evasive, would not answer questions about why he gave me a different property address and name when I had chatted with him via Airbnb. All he said was that there were multiple other victims in the scam, and that my lease was not valid even though the landlord’s name listed on the lease agreement was the correct one. He claimed anyone could find out this information via land registry. He would give me no details about who it was that had the keys from the rental agency on that night/stayed there via Airbnb booking, just said it was one of their tenants, and that they would not give any more information unless it was to the police.

Airbnb has not helped me at all, the property company says its not their responsibility, our bank says we cannot get money back unless the criminal’s account still has money in it, and now we have no flat to move into. The police said they may or may not investigate, and we are left with no deposit or flat, and no one that will help us. This has been a heart wrenching experience, and I hope by sharing this that maybe others can avoid such potential scams. We have been living in London less than a year and worked saving money for this flat, and are left speechless after this. Also, I believe this professional property company is breaking council and tax laws by renting full houses out not properly zoned for extended periods of time.

Airbnb Induced Stress Keeps Guests from Enjoying Paris

I booked an Airbnb for four of us (two couples) in Paris and, having used the platform before, it seemed easy. We were confirmed in a “Charmant appartement spacieux”, and we thought all was well, until about two weeks before we were to travel when I tried to contact the host to find out where we would get the key, etc. I tried every method available for a week, and all communication, both to Airbnb and to the host (if there is such a person) disappeared into a black hole. Panic and anxiety followed as I envisaged four seniors sleeping on the streets of Paris. On careful reading of the reviews (which I should have done before) it appears no one has actually stayed with this host, and three have had the same experience as I had.

I eventually cancelled, because I believe the post is dodgy in some way, and we couldn’t arrive in Paris with no confirmed lodging. However, now Airbnb has kept the $110 cancellation fee, which it should not do, as I don’t think there ever was a genuine product/service for sale, but I can’t find any way to present this argument. All emails funnel you into drop down lists that are not appropriate for this case, and none allow for genuine contact. They keep saying “contact the host” but that was the problem. It’s back to proper hotels for all of us.

Bogus Host Posts Private Home as Ancient Castle Airbnb

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I was looking for my next stay while touring Scotland and Northern England as a freelance writer and blogger with a dog. I had stayed in a lovely cottage in rural Ayrshire for three weeks. It was time to move on and find the next interesting place to stay. Imagine my surprise and delight to find an Airbnb listed as an “Ancient Castle” in Scotby, Cumbria and ideal for people with mobility problems. I am near 60 and have creaky knees. It also said there was a gym and pool available.

I was not sure how it worked out, but the normal price was £139 per night, seemingly for group bookings. However, it came down to individuals and the way it worked out with the weekly booking discount seemed really cheap. Still a little suspicious, but hopeful, I booked two weeks between April 29th and May 11th. I would have stayed in Scotland but the opportunity was too good to miss if true. I bought a train ticket down to Cumbria and waited until the check-in time, between 2:00-4:00 PM, before hiring a taxi costing over £10.

Taxi droppped me off at a pub. I did Google it and thought maybe it was a property behind the pub or in the ground. They knew nothing about it and pointed out the address was further down the road. I walked a half mile and could not see anything which looked like a castle. It was a rural surburban street with beautiful but ordinary large semi-detached family homes. I looked at the numbers on the gates and at #39 and counting up reckoned that #47 was another semi a few houses along.

As I came up to #47, I felt embarrased; it was clearly a family home and not a castle. I wondered how I should do this: should I go up, knock on the door, and ask if they were an ancient castle? Would that make them think I was a mad woman? Just as I approached two teenage girls came up, knocked on the door, spoke to their mum and explained that they were just dropping off their things after school but going out to see friends. The girls shot past me and the mum still stood at the door. I shouted at her “Er, excuse me… could you help me? I am looking for #47, which according to this information on Airbnb is an ancient castle.”

The mum came up and looked. That was her address, and that was even her post code, but she did not have an ancient castle, just a family home. She did not do any hosting or hiring out spare rooms to Airbnb, She was concerned who was using her address, as anybody could turn up at her home and demand entry. What if just her children were at home, and let someone in, not knowing?

I got another taxi back into Carlisle and contacted Airbnb from a pub with wifi. As usual, they didn’t get back to me for the rest of the night. It was getting on and by 10:30 PM with accommodation being snapped up for the Easter weekend I found and booked cheap accommodation in a truckstop on the edge of town in the middle of an industrial estate. That was all I could do.

I did eventually get through to Airbnb, and it was a pathetic response. They did take the fake host and the posting down, but again seemed blasé and offered me £2.73 on top of the refund as compensation. It was a very small change for the extra expense. I would not have gone through the hassle and stress if their host had not advertised an innocent family’s home as an “Ancient Castle” and had strangers turning up at their front door demanding and expecting being put up for the night.

Airbnb did not really provide a satisfactory response to this with only £2.73 to help towards other accommodations. A host tried to evict me onto the streets during Beast from the East and did not care I had no transport. Over 13 people were killed at this time, including a seven year old girl. When will Airbnb take responsibility for the welfare and well-being of their guests?

Airbnb Hell Prevents Property Agent Scam in Munich

I’m posting this because thanks to a similar post from this website I just avoided being scammed. I’m a Spanish student about to start an internship in Munich, a city well known for its accomodation shortage, especially for students. Searching for flats I came across the following property. The host seemed to answer all of my emails really quick and had no problem with the duration of my stay. I showed interest and the conversation went as follows:

Hello,

Thank you for your answers. You can rent the apartment how long you want, My children are at school here and I don’t have plans to move again in Germany. Last week I took two days off from my job and came to show the apartment to a person that was interested in renting it. When I arrived there, he called me and said that he was no longer interested in my apartment. I have lost money and time.

So, in this case we can use Airbnb. Here is a brief description of the process: they will send an agent, and you will visit the apartment in his presence. You will be able to sign the contract with them. They will also handle the money and the documents so both of us will be protected and secured. You will not pay any additional commission or other taxes. The total amount that you will have to pay will be: 1 month in advance, 500 EUR warranty + 720 EUR = 1220 EUR.

To continue this transaction through Airbnb you must to send me these details: complete name and address of the future tenant; direct telephone number (mobile); I also need a copy of your ID or passport to complete the lease agreement After you give me your details I will forward them to Airbnb to make the reservation on your name. They will send an email to confirm your booking details.

Finally, you will get an invoice to make the deposit in their bank account to show your interest and provide assurance. After the company receives the deposit confirmation they will send a designated agent with the keys and the documents. The agent will arrange the visit with you if you decide to rent the apartment. If you refuse the apartment, you are fully refunded the same day. I am under contract with the company and they offer the best security methods available.

I await your answer because I have other tenants interested in the flat.

Of course the website in which her appartment was listed was not the official Airbnb website, but a really good fake. So good that I almost took the bait. Here is the link to the fake Airbnb listing, please take into account this is not the official Airbnb site.

Notice how close the layout is to the real thing. Especially for people who do not use Airbnb that much and are not used to the official site, it can do the trick and provide this fake sense of security. It indeed said that she was a verified hostess: there was a picture of her, and comments from fake previous tenants. When I went on the real Airbnb website I of course could not find her apartment.

Just letting everybody out there know that you always have to double check accommodation in cities such as Munich, especially if you are are a student. I hope this helped someone and screwed those scammers.

Fraudulent Listing in Moscow Leaves Guest at Hotel

At the end of July 2017, I rented a room for two nights with Airbnb in Moscow, Russia. I sent text messages to the host of the apartment a couple of times asking him about his apartment number. Not getting any answers led me to believe there was an international communications problem.

When I got there, I called him many times but still got no answer. I went to the address which was centrally located and like many other apartment buildings in Moscow, it had security personal at the entrance. I asked the security guy about this listing and he answered me that the building had eight apartments. He had never seen the host in the picture I provided nor did he know any resident who rented an apartment in that building. He also contacted his partner who worked the same shift but he got a negative answer as well. That was about 3:30 in the afternoon.

I tried to contact Airbnb but I was unsuccessful. They had no help nor support from the website. I tried until around midnight by browsing with my luggage from one restaurant to another with no luck. I spent that night in a nearby hotel, paying around $100. The next day, after many hours of trying to rent a different apartment, I gave up and changed my return ticket to the earliest date, which happened to be on August 21st. That date was almost ten days earlier than my originally planned return date of September 2nd.

After changing my ticket, I rented a different place with Airbnb after many hours where I could spend the time enjoying my vacation. The place that I rented was not centrally located. Finally I contacted Airbnb, and told them that the listing was fraudulent. Because of that fraudulent listing, my entire trip was derailed and I was very much depressed.

When I returned to the states, I contacted Airbnb and spoke with a person at customer service who sent me an email earlier, presenting herself as a help/support department manager and promising to compensate me $300. According to her, this was the maximum amount that Airbnb could pay. I asked her whether this conversation was being recorded and she responded that it was. After speaking with her back and forth, she promised to compensate me with $400 plus my refund of $81 for a rental. I received an email today from a representative at Airbnb, stating that their company will not compensate me the amount that had been promised. I don’t like companies that don’t understand how to calculate their costs and benefits. In my case, if I don’t rent with Airbnb for three or four times, they lose me as a costumer and the amount that they had to compensate me.

Scammed For Over £1500 On Fake Spain Listing

I decided to use Airbnb for the first time recently, in order to book a villa in Spain for my family. Having never used Airbnb before, I contacted the host, put in my bank details and ‘requested to book’. The host wanted to speak on the phone, so I gave them my number. We spoke on WhatsApp, albeit in Spanish, with myself consulting translators. I was then sent a series of official looking emails, from what I assumed was Airbnb (the links even took me to the brand’s social media accounts). I was instructed to make a payment into a bank account in Valencia. Again, to a first time customer, without fraud even entering my mind, I made the payment. Weeks later, the day before we were due to fly, I couldn’t contact the ‘host’ and their profile had been removed from the site. After a few panicky phone calls to Airbnb customer service, it became apparent that I had been scammed. We were due to fly in less than 12 hours, and Airbnb cheerfully shirked all responsibility in this matter, even asking politely if there was ‘anything else they could help with?’ Weeks later, I have been emailing them and calling them with barely any response. They seem to be impossible to contact, and they are getting away with assisting fraudsters on their platform.

Worst Airbnb Host Ever Almost Ruined My Vacation

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I stayed with a host who is quite literally one of the most unpleasant human beings I have ever encountered. How she has any good Airbnb reviews is beyond me. Her communication skills are beyond deplorable. The following review is for this listing in Tokyo. I noticed that she was very rude when I first asked her if it would be possible to check in early. A simple “no” would have sufficed; instead, she went on a rant. Given that she is Japanese, I brushed this rudeness off as her not being familiar with the English language and maybe she didn’t understand the underlying connotations of the words she was using. That was a mistake.

We arrived at the apartment, which looked like an absolute pigsty. See the attached photos. It was absolutely disgusting and not even the same apartment that was listed on the website. The host lied, in that it was not her apartment. I say lied because the key was in a specific mailbox with a code that she had given us, so it was practically impossible that we “by chance” got the wrong key and went to the wrong apartment. She kept lying and trying to blame us for her mistake. She also never offered to come help us. In fact, in the beginning we couldn’t even get in touch with her. Instead her husband who spoke no English was answering the phone.

Eventually, after a 21-hour flight I was fed up and went to a hotel. Then I proceeded to call Airbnb for a refund. It took over an hour to get my refund but finally the Airbnb case manager discovered that it was her apartment and that she had double booked it. Because it was her fault, Airbnb forced her to give me a refund. Afterwards, she left me a negative review. Why she was able to review me when the reservation was cancelled is beyond me. I had to call Airbnb to get that fixed as well.

Needless to say I will never use Airbnb again. Just realize that if something like this happens they pretty much leave you high and dry. The host should apologize for what she did but is such a horrible human she never will. She is lucky I didn’t leave a review on Airbnb and ruin her obviously fake reviews.

Foreign Phone Number Only Contact for Airbnb Host?

Please don’t book any rooms or apartments listed by this host. I had made a reservation through Airbnb for a one-night stay on June 23rd, 2017 at a studio apartment listed in Boston. An amount of Rs.5708 was paid for the stay upfront and the reservation was confirmed by the said host. As per the details provided to me through email by Airbnb, check-in could be done anytime after 8:00 AM.

I reached the address at around 6:00 PM. To my surprise, the building at the address was an office and there were no apartments. I tried all possible means to reach Airbnb and the host to provide the correct address of apartment. The phone number provided by the host was a Vietnam number and was unreachable or temporarily out of service. I used the messaging platform provided by Airbnb to contact her at periodic intervals; however, nothing developed. I had also written emails to the address provided by Airbnb. No response was received from the host, even on that medium.

I tried reaching Airbnb Customer Care, however they kept me indefinitely on hold and I was not able to speak with any of its Customer Care Agents. In fact on one occasion, they kept me on hold for twenty minutes and I was still not able to connect with any Airbnb Customer Service Agent. This incident was also brought to the notice of Airbnb through emails. The following response was received from Airbnb:

I’m sorry to hear that you have had difficulty with host responsiveness. We urge our hosts to keep their calendars up to date and respond to all inquiries and requests. Although we do our best to encourage all of our hosts to stay active, some hosts may not be as responsive as we would want them to be. I will be forwarding this to our trip team. I hope this helps but if you have any more questions, please let us know.

It may be noted from the aforementioned communication from Airbnb that even its team members had failed to get in touch with this host. Please note this was the last communication I received from Airbnb on the matter. Because of the Airbnb host, who had failed to provide details of the correct location and access related details, a situation had arisen where I had to spend the night on the side of the road or the lobby of this office building.

As no details of the apartment had been received, I had to make last minute arrangements for an alternative stay. I could not have waited the whole night on the road expecting communication from Airbnb or its host. No such communication from them even happened in the end. The last minute arrangements cost me an additional $215. Airbnb and its hosts are in the business of servicing clients by providing arrangements for guests to stay. Once a stay-related request of a client like me is confirmed from the side of Airbnb’s host after receipt of payment, it becomes a contractual agreement on the host’s part and the part of Airbnb that has to be fulfilled.

I was surprised to see that a host at a US property had a Vietnam mobile number listed and Airbnb displayed it as a verified number. Furthermore, this number was actually out of service and thus there was no way to speak with her. Even Airbnb employees were not able to reach her. Thus, as a result of poor management and insensitive behavior of Airbnb towards me (i.e. their client), including insensitive and irresponsible behavior on the part of Airbnb’s host, I was forced to look and make alternate arrangements. This had cost me $215 in addition to the amount I already paid to the host.

As Airbnb and its host had failed to fulfill the said commitment, I have sent numerous emails to Airbnb and the host to refund INR 5708 that was charged to me, compensate me $210 that I had to pay for making alternate arrangements for the night as a result of the failure on the part of the host and Airbnb, and $1000 for the mental agony and torture I have undergone. I have not received any response from them to date. I would suggest potential Airbnb users avoid making any booking with this host and in fact, avoid Airbnb as it does not provide any help in situations when it is most needed. Airbnb and its hosts can leave you stranded in a foreign land without shelter, and as a result spoil your holiday by gifting you the worst mental agony.

Stranger came to my door but I’m not on Airbnb

I am not a host or a guest. A week ago Friday we had a lady show up at our home saying she booked our property and wanted to get into our home. After a lengthy discussion with this lady, we looked at the Airbnb listing and it was indeed my address. However, nothing matched my home’s description. There were lots of misspelled words, and the “host” spoke about Satan. The whole post was a sham. We both contacted Airbnb several times to take down the post. We explained to them how it’s a safety issue and eventually someone will come knocking that paid for the house and wants in and won’t be as nice as this lady was. Airbnb has not given this guest her money back, nor have they taken down the fake listing. I’ve made several phone calls within a week to this place, as well as emailing and calling them out on Facebook. Nothing is being done. This is so ridiculous that I have to check online everyday to see if my home has been booked and if an unwanted person will be arriving. Why can’t they just take it down?

Fake Information on Airbnb Leads to Fake Osaka Apartment

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I will not recommend Airbnb to my friends, as it won’t protect its users’ rights. My family was planning to travel to Osaka, Japan, and we tried to look for a suitable room for us. Before I made the reservation, I double checked with the house owner about the room I needed; we had five people and we needed two rooms. She answered me by confirming there were two rooms in the apartment which could easily accomodate five people. However, when I arrived that night, I found there was only a tiny room for two people.

I called the house owner. He admitted that it was his fault but the only thing he could do would be to provide a refund. Of course, we also needed to find another place to stay. In such a rush and looking during the busy season, we found no affordable hotel or hostel for our whole family. Therefore we had no choice but to cancel our travel plans and go back to our country. The real room we arrived to find was completely different than that pictured in the photo that the house owner showed on Airbnb, which means the information on the website is fake. Even he refunded us but they did nothing to make up my loss. I also can’t make comments on the website as the reservation has been cancelled. I want to reveal what’s really going on to everyone who wants to find a room to stay on Airbnb. You’d better to have a backup plan otherwise your rights will not be protected at all.