Nonexistent Building and Fraud in NYC

We booked a “charming studio” in Manhattan on 60th street, one block from Central Park. Initial confirmation came back confirming the listing as shown. BUT the week we were leaving we received a second confirmation with a different address. The new address was seven blocks away, under the Queensboro Bridge exit ramps, and adjacent to a strip club. I contacted the host about the discrepancy. I received about 20 automated messages confirming our “charming studio” but not responding to my question. I told her we wanted to keep our original reservation for the charming studio near Central Park and that her other listing showed it as two bedroom units, etc. She said there were also studios in the building. I told her we wanted to keep our original reservation near Central Park. Next, the host claimed it was a typo. WHAT?

I called Airbnb. The nightmare began. Then she claimed it was an administrative error. And finally two days before our departure she disclosed that the original address is for a building which doesn’t exist. Meanwhile Airbnb assured us that they would help me find alternate accommodations for us within our desired area. I explained that we were going to be in NYC for two and a half months and that my son would be receiving medical care and so we needed to be able to walk to his appointments and needed to be close to the original location we reserved. They kept trying to convince me to accept the other reservation. I explained that it would not work and that we would have to rely on cabs and that would add over $400/ week to the total. We were then assigned a case manager (Olivia) but every time I called I had to go through the whole explanation again and got more lip service. I was told our case manager would call us back. This never happened.

I was told our case was now labeled urgent. Still, there was no call back. Then I was told they would provide a list of available places but not necessarily within my desired location and price range. I was also told I would have to contact hosts myself. With a 24-hour turnaround response time and further “no availability” for the “available” listings they provided, I was told I was on my own to find alternative accommodation elsewhere. I was now within 24 hours of our departure, I still had no resolution and no place to stay for my son and I and they were still sitting on over $5,500 of our money. The stress they added to our lives cannot be measured. The experience was not just frustrating, it was unethical, fraudulent and illegal. Having a case manager is a joke if he/she does nothing to help you.

I finally got different case managers (Shawn and Buster) who told me they were going to refund our money. I have to see yet to see a refund. I contacted a friend in Manhattan and put me in touch with her realtor. When I told her what had transpired, she did not bat an eyelash. She said that many of her clients call her because they have rented through Airbnb and that many of the NYC Airbnb listings are illegal and so folks are booted out of their rental midway through their stay. Virtual commerce. Virtual crime. My “host”, Rachel, was actually in London. And the crazy thing is, as of my departure THE LISTING FOR THE NONEXISTENT “charming studio” with the map location on 60th street and one block from Central Park was STILL UP on the Airbnb website. I have not decided how I will proceed. Be careful out there.

Airbnb Scammers – ALWAYS Check the URL!

I’ve been looking to rent an apartment in Barcelona and two people have already tried to scam me using Airbnb’s name. The initial contact is by email, and the format is always the same:

*The Bait*

“Bought the apartment but moved, it’s a great deal/very low price, can’t be bothered to show the place beforehand, will use Airbnb for safety/trust.”

*The Final Touches*

You pay directly to an “Airbnb Agent”. Then he will show you the place. If you don’t like it, you can get your money back in two days OR they send you a fake link (like this one) that looks exactly like the real deal.

*Bonus Points for the Scammers*

They also steal your personal information: when you request a booking you can, conveniently, sign in using Facebook, Google or your real Airbnb account. I used 123@gmail.com and 1234567 and it “worked” to get into the payments area…

*The Result*

You lose a ton of cash and have no one to whom to go as you never dealt with the real Airbnb.

*The Lesson*

ALWAYS CHECK THE URLs and, if you plan to deal outside Airbnb for any reason, make a deal with the owner where the first week/nights of your stay are booked through the real site, and then arrange an alternative means of payment for the rest of your planned stay.

Fraudulent Listings on Airbnb

I was interested in two listings in London. Both were fraudulent. They posted email addresses in the photo section with Airbnb in the script. When I messaged them through official channels they asked me to email them directly to check on the dates. I then got official looking booking emails that connected you to what looked exactly like the Airbnb payment portal. Payment was then asked for by wire. The apartments are probably from real estate listings (too good to be true). I paid but because it didn’t feel right I cancelled the wire an hour later. That’s a whole other issue that I’m dealing with my bank about. They said they didn’t get the money. I am not sure if they did yet. They sent me a second bank to which to wire money. The first bank was in Norway, and the second was in England. Based on the sophistication of the software I am sure that this scam is not limited to London, but has infected their entire listing database. I informed Airbnb.com of this scam and their response was to send me scripted safety tips. I sent them copies of all the mirrored web pages and email addresses and banking info. I did not request they refund my money I just asked for the assistance and I have never heard from them.

Pregnant Wife and Donuts on the Streets of NYC

I booked an apartment on Airbnb, only to discover there was no apartment, there was no landlord, and my money was gone. The result: I was stuck at 11:00 pm with a pregnant wife on the streets of New York City in a Dunkin Donuts. I read about similar scams for new users like me on Airbnb; I understand bribery is an important part of their business: it attracts new users at least. Airbnb did nothing to help me, my money is gone, and they replied to my complaints “there is nothing we can do, this will be the last email you receive from us.” Their platform is full of frauds and there is no serious attempt to exercise oversight on the users. Stay away from these people. They are not a serious company. My experience with Airbnb has been a nightmare.

Fake hosts..FAKE listing!!

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I lost out on £2910 thanks to Airbnb. They had allowed a person to upload a FAKE villa, under a fake hosts details!! They don’t even check that the host is real…this is basic stuff here??! They offer the “option” that a host can verify themselves? this is SICK! I was communicating with the host, and told to wait until I had a confirmation from air bob before i went ahead with the booking. Guess what…I got the confirmation, which was from a AIRbnb email address. the payment details were at the bottom and i paid it! It was fake!! I called the police, air bnb and the banks immediately. Air bnb didn’t appear to be bothered and didn’t help AT ALL! Even though they cover hosts by £600k each in property damage, they don’t have the time or money to help the people whose lives have been upset because of them! The banks looked into the account and shut it down immediately, although the money had been spent, barclays offered my £27.00 as a good will gesture? Good will… damn insulting!! The police can’t track down the man in question, so have closed the case! I would feel a lot better if airbnb would admit they DON’T take their security seriously, and if they would help me out…but no! I have and am still in talks with solicitors, they cannot get away with this!!