Is Everything About Airbnb Fake? Scammed in Philly

Is Airbnb just a fake company? Based on my experience, it clearly seems to be the case. I live in Sao Paulo, Brazil. I had plans to be in Philadelphia for a week to celebrate my ten-year MBA reunion, and had booked my Airbnb more than two months in advance. So, I flew nine hours from Sao Paulo to JFK, rented a car and then arrived in Philly after traveling for more than 15 hours. Once I arrived at the address of the Airbnb, I realized that I could locate the two adjacent properties but not the address on the reservation. So, I called the host and found out that the number had been disconnected. That’s when I realized that I had been pranked, except that there was nothing funny about it.

I immediately contacted Airbnb, and they tried to contact the host, as if that would help. After an hour or so, they said that I was right and asked me to check other locations on Airbnb. This was a fun exercise, given that I had just been through a long, international trip with plenty of luggage to lug around. Finally, I decided enough was enough and downloaded and got a hotel through the app HotelTonight (secretly, I am sure HotelTonight must be delighted that the incompetence of Airbnb sends customers their way). Once I checked in, I talked to Airbnb again and they offered me a subsidy on the hotel for the night. The next day, I went through the same routine and tried to book another Airbnb, but nobody responded on the site.

There were plenty of fake listings. In one case, two professional realtors had put up the same apartment on the site with vastly different prices and exactly the same photographs. I tried to learn more, but was rebuffed as soon as I pointed out this discrepancy. To summarize, I had to pay for a hotel for the entire trip. So, the cost of me staying in Philly on Airbnb would have been USD900; instead, it ended up being USD2250, blowing through my budget. To top it all, an Amazon package I had mailed to the fake address was not recovered either. It has been more than a week after my trip and the “case manager” has stalled and not resolved the problem despite repeated followups on their website and Twitter. Their strategy seems to be sticking their heads in the sand and hoping the issue goes away. Airbnb may be a fake company, but my experience was real. Stories like these are not going away.

Airbnb Host Never Responded to an Instant Book

I chose an apartment in Tangerang, Indonesia for a one-night stay. I chose the Instant Book option and without confirmation from the host, the reservation was instantly approved (and my credit card was instantly charged). I reserved the room a day before check in (April 25, 2017). Up until 11:00 AM in the day of the check in (April 26, 2017), the host never responded to any of my messages. As in any Airbnb booking, I need to have information on the exact location of the property (address and room number of the apartment) and also on how to obtain the key from the host. Up until noon, there was no response. And as I could not wait any longer, I then canceled the reservation. As the cancellation was made on the same day as the booking, my credit card was had already been fully charged by Airbnb and the host. I tried to explain this to Airbnb, but it turned out it was really difficult to contact and/or to find how to file a complaint. I think Airbnb has a great policy not taking complaints. Until today (my reservation was for April 26, 2017, while today is May 2, 2017), the host never responded to my messages and complaints. There were no responses from Airbnb. I used to use Airbnb to find cheaper accommodations. It however turned out that it cost me much more than that. Airbnb is a nightmare. I will never use it again.

Airbnb Fake Listing – I Got Scammed in Dublin

I’m afraid I will have to be adding to the list of guest horror stories of scams involving Airbnb. It’s great to know (and let others know) that if things go wrong with this company their stance is an complete and utter refusal to accept that they have operated with any neglect to customer protection when in fact the opposite is true. I was recently looking for an apartment to rent in Dublin as I’m having a party there in October. I found a great apartment listed normally along with lots of others on Airbnb. This listing turned out to be completely fake but led me to transfer – in good faith – £834 to a criminal’s bank account whilst parading under a false Airbnb official-looking email address. I had never used the site before and was unfamiliar with the payment process. The following day, having reported the fake listing, I contacted my bank’s fraud department; a friend of mine was still able to find the fake listing and communicate with the fake host. It’s so infuriating that Airbnb did not even attempt to take the fake listing down immediately to protect others. I have had an official email ending my dispute from Airbnb exonerating themselves completely from any blame. My bank has asked Barclays for the funds back from the criminal’s account (highly unlikely) and informed me not to get my hopes up as MACs transfers are virtually irreversible. I feel totally disgusted by Airbnb’s response to my problem, their lack of urgency in taking the fake listing down, and the hundreds of other stories that I have since read with the same problem. Airbnb should not get away with this.

My Home is a Fake Listing. Does Airbnb Even Care?

Well I’m neither a host or a guest yet I am writing here. I have had eight different people, all Airbnb guests, knock at my home stating they have a booking. Obviously some con artist has listed my address on the Airbnb website and is taking the payments the guests are paying to stay at my address for himself. I have tried to contact Airbnb by phone several times only to listen to annoying music until I decide to hang up… the longest I’ve waited is two hours (thanks to unlimited calls by my service provider). The other way to contact Airbnb is by email but you have to register. I refuse to do this – why should I? Airbnb is obviously not taking fraud seriously because the guests that have arrived at my home for a fake booking have complained to Airbnb. Yet the listing must still be up as people still turn up.

Conned by Airbnb over Easter Weekend

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I used Airbnb to book a villa for eight people… I thought I did anyway. Prior to that I had contacted several hosts and got exactly the same reply every time. I liked a villa whose host was named Sandy. Villa Vouglemeni looked great. I received a confirmation email and was then told the payment needed to be made via bank transfer as it had been confirmed but not yet booked. We turned up at the place after paying £2355. The villa was real, but the booking was a fraud. Eight people were forced to book hotels at a peak travel time (Easter). The real owner had spoken to Airbnb ten days ago saying the listing was a fraud but Airbnb did nothing to prevent further fraud from occurring. They left the link up, so we booked and got conned. Then we had to pay again for alternative accommodations. They ruined our holiday. We lost all our money and they refused to listen or help; they just kept sending the same form letter. Help me share this story and get my money back and everyone else’s.

Airbnb is Losing their Business to Scammers

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My family had an upcoming trip to London. I booked a place from a verified host, who had 25 positive reviews for his property. Less than a week before our arrival, my host sent me a message that the apartment I booked was no longer available. He suggested I stay in another apartment of his. According to the calendar, the apartment would not be available for part of our stay. The host is not answering my messages or phone calls. I’ve been calling Airbnb for three days straight. Each time they assure me that my case has “high priority” and their trip team will be in touch with me shortly. Nobody ever called me back. Today I’ve been told that they are busy helping people, who are right now standing on the street without a place to sleep; that’s why I should wait. I probably should, until my family is on the streets of London without accommodations. The customer service representative suggested I look for a new place and tried to contact my host, but he could issue a refund only after 24 hours. I asked him to help me find a reliable host with a real property, because at least 60% of Airbnb listings in London are fakes used for scams; he assured me that Airbnb is vetting all its listings. I used to love Airbnb, but it seems they are losing the game to scammers. Airbnb definitely needs a stronger security team and they need to handle situations like mine before people are on the street with no place to stay, not postpone until the last 24 hours.

Nonexistent Host Still has Friendly Neighbours

I live in the north of Belgium, close to the Dutch border. I booked a nice looking single room for two nights, approximately 50 minutes drive time from where I live. It was the cheapest accommodation in that area. I used Instant Book because I had never had any trouble reaching hosts before. The host, ‘Anna’, had been on Airbnb since December 2016 and apparently, nobody had booked her place yet, since there were no ratings or comments on her page. I thought that was logical since the street she claimed to be living on was in a small, not at all touristy place; it wasn’t close to a city, and not far away enough to be off the beaten track either. Nonetheless, it was perfect for my purposes and every host needs a first guest, right?

On my departure day, I hadn’t heard from Anna. I didn’t know whether she had seen her latest reservation, I didn’t know whether checking in at 5:00 PM was okay, and I didn’t know what her house number was. I called the telephone number on her page before I got into my car. It went to voicemail right away. I really wanted to get away for a weekend; I wanted to go hiking, so I didn’t give up on Anna yet. I drove past the street she claimed to be living in because it was more or less on my way to the nature reserve that was the purpose of my journey. I thought: I might as well see whether some neighbor knows where Anna Hendriks lives, then, when I hopefully reach her, I’ll know instantly whether she is willing to host me instead of when I come back from my hike.

I thought my plan would work out when I saw a house with a rather large name plate: Hendriks. The woman that opened the door was clearly not the Anna from the profile picture. I explained to her that I had booked a room through Airbnb on her street and that I am now looking for its owner.

“There is an Anna living on this street, but she is a young girl,” she responded. “There is also a woman with grey hair but her name is Corry and she doesn’t rent out her rooms either,” according to friendly Mrs. Hendriks.

I thanked her and apologized for disturbing her. I told myself I would not bother her neighbors, Corry and Anna, because it will probably not lead me anywhere. I feel betrayed. I called the host for a third time and left a message on her cell phone. I have the feeling she doesn’t exist, which is a shame, because she has at least one nice neighbor.

I decided to file a complaint against her with Airbnb. I switched on my mobile data and cancelled my reservation. It was too late to get my first night refunded but I did get my second night, according to the automatic Airbnb help menu. Thank god the host has a flexible cancellation policy. I later asked for a refund for the first night but she didn’t respond. Of course not: she doesn’t exist. Nowhere in the Airbnb help centre can I find any information telling me how to deal with hosts that don’t exist. I want to get my money back and I want to prevent other people from booking with Anna. What can I do?

Airbnb Property Pictures in Mallorca Used by Scammers

I am a property owner in Mallorca and it has come to my attention about two months ago that my photos have been duplicated and are being used by another host on a scam listing. I do not know this host and I have not given him permission to list my property anywhere. In the comment section, clients have also expressed their complaints that the host had contacted them only two weeks before arrival (long after he had already taken their money) that the advertised property would not be available and therefore he could offer them another property. The guests did not choose or agree to this, but they obviously had no choice because they already paid. Airbnb did not help the guests and they do not seem to care about the comments because this should be enough proof for them to be aware of the scam that is going on. I have written to Airbnb to request the listing be taken down immediately but after many messages with different people, I was told that it was not Airbnb’s responsibility to verify contracts between hosts and owners; therefore they could not take the listing down. This is really unbelievable and I am starting to get desperate. I hope someone who has been in the same situation is able to help me. The last thing that Airbnb has done is advise me to send proof of copyright of the photos to their copyright department, but these are my personal photos. I feel they are just trying to keep me occupied and in the meantime, the scam listing is still showing my property without my permission. To protect myself legally, I have reported the scam to the local police, but they cannot help me either. All this has been nerve wracking and very damaging to my property’s reputation. I really look forward to receiving your comments and advice on how to approach this issue once and for all.

Airbnb Supports Misleading Property Pictures

I had a mini break from school and decided to visit my husband in Edmonton, Alberta (Canada). For the last four nights of my visit we decided to book an Airbnb close to downtown so that while he’s at work I could easily go shopping as well as easily find a place to eat when needed. He saw a reasonably priced suite, ‘Avala Suite’ and he booked it based on the pictures associated with the ad and recent reviews. Thursday night we checked in at approximately 11:15 PM. The first thing I noticed was the bed didn’t have a frame like it did in the pictures; to me, that was minor and didn’t warrant a complaint. Then my husband went to the kitchen and I decided to checked out the bathroom. To my surprise, the bathroom was completely different from what was posted on his ad. I called my husband’s attention to this and he too was shocked. We revisited the ad, because we both knew that what we were both viewing was not what we saw.

The suite was so stuffy and we noticed the ‘clean’ sheets folded in the linen cupboard had hairs on them and looked like they needed to be washed. We used our own pillow covers and sheets to put on top of what was on the bed and decided to go get Febreeze at the nearest gas station to help with the dusty odour. When we got back to the room we decided to rest and contact Airbnb in the morning. Unfortunately when we woke up and tried to locate the ad, the property was no longer listed on their platform, so we did not have the supporting evidence from the ad. We still sent an email informing them of what we saw in the initial ad and sent pictures of what we are now seeing and explain to them that we cannot access the ad to send a screenshot of what was advertised. To my surprise Airbnb replied saying the bathroom was the same and it was just a cleaning issue. Now I became irritated because I felt like we were being taken for fools.

On Saturday I decided to send an email to Airbnb, still being unable to view any ad from Avala. The email sent is as follows:

According to Airbnb’s Content Policy which clearly states that you do not condone listings and profiles which contains contents that are fraudulent, false, misleading or deceptive. If your company does not support misleading contents, why is it that my husband is clearly being taken for granted after filing a complaint about the host of our reservation posting on his ad being completely different pictures of the bathroom for his suite. It is quite clear that the pictures being advertised are completely different as he posted a bathroom with bluish colour wall tiles and the tiles noted in the bathroom on arrival is of a creamish colour. How can your representative sum this up as a cleaning issue? It is clearly not a cleaning issue; the ad was misleading. Secondly, where is the cleaning issue in the host posting a picture of a wooden trimmed toilet seat compared to the white one we viewed on our arrival? I am only left to sum this issue up as either the representative was not interested in doing their due diligence for a proper investigation to see that the ad for the suite is false and misleading or this host may be making you guys a lot of money. In that case, complaints against him fall on deaf ears. Either way, it is not right to treat customers in this manner. Hosts should not be allowed to falsely advertise their space. It is the pictures shown that help clients select the property that seems suitable for visits. This is not ok Airbnb.

I got no reply. Finally on Sunday, Avala’s platform was back up on the website. I took a screenshot immediately and decided to call again. The representative that I spoke to told me that the case manager that dealt with the matter has summed this up to a cleaning issue and asked what I wanted him to do after I informed him of the situation and letting him know that not only is there is picture of a bathroom that does not exist at all in suite but all of a sudden there is a picture of a clean version of the pictures they sent to us the day before which was not there at all when we viewed the ad. I highlighted to the representative I spoke to on Sunday morning that it is not ok for the company to be saying they don’t condone misleading postings of suites, yet, this matter seems to be falling on deaf ears. He simply stated he would send me an email and a case manager will contact me. Honestly I get the feeling that because this host has numerous suites and possibly makes a ton of money for Airbnb, that the rules do not apply to him about false, misleading advertising. However, as consumers, to book a place to stay for visits we only have the reviews of others to help us determine which place to select and most importantly the actual pictures of where we will be staying. I feel wronged by Airbnb and they don’t seem to care at all. Shame on Airbnb.

Scam on Airbnb: Austrian Holiday Falls Through

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We were looking for accommodation in Austria near Kitzbuhel for February 16-19th this year. After looking for a bit we found a very nice chalet with amazing views hosted by Mark on Airbnb. I checked his profile: it was verified by Airbnb, with 39 reviews. On Monday, January 30th I contacted him via Airbnb, and he responded saying I should contact his wife via email to confirm the dates. Then I wrote to his wife, to confirm the dates and the availability. We exchanged some emails, and they told me more about the property and rules. After agreeing on the dates and all the details, on January 31st they send me a link, which linked back to Airbnb. When I clicked on it, I was directed back to my Airbnb reservation. I selected my desired dates and it let me enter all my credit card details. I put everything in and submitted it. At that moment, it said that the payment couldn’t go through, so I ha to use a wire transfer. All the details to make the payment were included, so I continued as advised.

Meanwhile, I received an email confirmation from Airbnb for the accommodation, including an invoice and itinerary, all looking totally normal and original. I contacted the host and wrote that I made the payment and informed him of my arrival. He answered that everything was fine and we would stay in touch. The next morning I received an email alert from Airbnb stating that I was probably contacted by someone using a fake profile. I wanted to check this host’s profile but it wasn’t available anymore. I contacted Airbnb, telling them I already made a payment. The host was still communicating with me but his phone number which was listed in his email only rang; no one ever answered.

This morning I received a text from my bank, with the verification code for some payment by my credit card (the same which I used for paying for accommodation on Airbnb) for 53.84 USD. I was just in my car driving and my card was in my wallet. So was obvious that someone stole my card details when I made a payment on Airbnb. I had to cancel my card at the bank, and asked my bank if they could request a refund from the receiving bank. I’m not really sure that they will ever send my money back. I went to the police to report this whole situation, because I was a victim of a scam on Airbnb, having paid 1363 euro for this accommodation. I was using their application from time to time, and many of my friends thought it was trustworthy and safe. I will never book on Airbnb again, because I don’t want to lose more money. Unfortunately this was my experience, which was difficult to recognize, as I was trusting Airbnb. Their attitude is just ridiculous; they take no responsibility for anything. It looks like Airbnb has a dark side. Maybe all these scams are the way they make lots of money.