Airbnb Refunded Guest After Telling Me They were Ineligible for Refund

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We received a booking in December 2020 for check-in on Dec. 25. The guest messaged us a few days before to say that they were nervous to come down as the COVID numbers had been increasing. We offered them a keyless check-in and to keep to all the COVID protocols strictly.

On the day before check-in, they messaged to say someone in their family passed away from COVID and they would not make the booking. Our cancellation policy is 14 days and strict. We offered to move their dates and they agreed. On the 25th, they said they could not make those days either (2 weeks later). So we lost on multiple bookings due to reserving these dates a second time. The guest then requested we refund him in full.

Airbnb got back to me to say that the guest does not qualify for extenuating circumstances after their investigation of the matter. The guest kept harassing us so we refunded him 50% through Airbnb and I notified the support consultant. We got a new booking in December 2021 and Airbnb deducted the full amount of the previous booking off of our payout. After knowing that they said he does not qualify and after knowing that I had also decided to refund him 50% as well.

The guest now ignores my messages requesting my 50% be paid back. Airbnb is pushing me from one consultant to the next on messages. I called them and they have the same story: pushing me from one consultant to the next. They did not notify me until a whole year later once my payout for my recent booking was processed, that they had refunded this guest.

This is daylight robbery and fraud in my opinion. If the guest was refunded, why would they have my account in a negative figure? What if I never got another booking or closed my account? This makes no sense. Someone at their accounts department is highly confused.

Airbnb Nightmare: Another Guest Scammed

I made a reservation and paid for an apartment to a host (not sure if he gave his real name though because of what is happening now), and he said I should pay into a third-party account which was supposedly for Airbnb as they were the ones who would receive the money on his behalf. I paid a deposit and two months’ payment as he said the minimum stay was two months.

I was sent a link which generated an invoice. I have a copy of the invoice with the details of the account I was supposed to transfer the money into. After payment, we were supposed to receive an email with a contract attached; this never materialized until today.

We were supposed to be checking in today but instead the host with whom we have been talking to has just decided to block us on his phone after receiving our money and never provided us with the service. The link is no longer working. Is Airbnb a scam or has it been hijacked by scammers? I do have the other evidence that we indeed paid for a service that never materialized.

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Guest Managed to Scam me through Airbnb

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I appear to have been scammed by a scammer through seemingly legitimate Airbnb channels. The guest – with zero reviews but six forms of verification booked and paid for three nights. On the day they were meant to leave she asked if she could extend for seven nights. I agreed and altered the booking.

The next day I found out the alteration had been rejected. I wasn’t told why. The guest is now on “free” night one. I immediately contacted the guest – I’m told they didn’t know why it was rejected but insisted they would reach out to Airbnb and make the payment.

The same day I received confirmation (email and message) from a legitimate Airbnb source saying a payment of £1400 was on its way and a description “extra service – extend stay until 28/09/2019″. So I was thinking, “Great… Airbnb have acknowledged it and I’ll get paid.”

The next day I got a message from Airbnb saying “payment is delayed.” The Guest was on “free” night number two. Two days later, after chasing Airbnb, I got a message saying payment could not be collected. The guest was on “free” night four… well, almost five since Airbnb support was based in the US so it was late in the UK.

On the fifth day, after all the failed attempts to get money from Airbnb, the guest told me they would transfer the money via bank transfer. I know it wasn’t what Airbnb wanted but I was running out of time to get anything from this guest before they left. She sent me a screenshot of the bank transfer and confirmation number. The money never actually went through and the guest left on day six.

Airbnb has been totally useless. The case has been passed to numerous people who ask the same questions over and over again. They’re simply staying the initial stay was three nights, which was paid and subsequent nights were done outside of Airbnb, which I don’t get.

As for the £1400 that they failed to collect for me for the extended stay, they accept they processed it and told me it was on the way but since they couldn’t collect the money, they’re wiping their hands clean. They were quick to point out that I’d attempted to do a transaction outside of Airbnb, in no way sympathetic to the fact I didn’t really have any other option.

The guest continued to communicate with me after she’d left. She argued that because she left early she should only pay £1200, not £1400. It was a bit strange because if it were a scam from the offset why even communicate after you’ve left? Anyway, that’s kind of irrelevant. There are a#$holes out there, I get it. What I don’t get and am annoyed about is how they were able to trick me via the official Airbnb channels.

When an Airbnb Host is not an Airbnb Host

About two weeks ago we were paid a visit by a gentleman knocking on our door asking for “Richard”. My wife answered and told him there was no “Richard at this address”. The man seemed confused. He was sure he had the correct address and rechecked his Airbnb app. His intentions were to stay at our home for three nights.

“Sorry, we don’t know what you’re talking about.”

He then showed us photos of our house. Surprise, surprise… we had all been scammed. Whoever had set up the fictitious Airbnb account had swiped photos of our home off of VRBO and populated them into the made-up account. Fortunately, the potential lodger had a daughter in town and was going to flop on her couch.

He did call “Richard” on the supplied phone number but the person on the other line hung up abruptly. We obviously encouraged him to call Airbnb to straighten things out. We also notified Airbnb. Unfortunately, it fell on deaf ears.

We thankfully got some of the information from the poor guy who was left stranded: his confirmation number, etc. We decided to research the information we saw online. The host’s photo had been swiped off a site for cochlear implants, and the cell number belonged to a guy in upstate Wisconsin.

We blocked our caller ID and spoke with him. He said he had been getting calls for the last couple of days and stopped answering the phone. I was sort of surprised that he picked up our call. My wife still thinks he may have been the perpetrator but he sounded somewhat surprised.

Meanwhile, the associates at Airbnb kept telling us someone would call us back… crickets, nada, zip. We called again the next day and the next day after that. No returned calls. All we ever heard was that they would mark our ticket as “URGENT” and call us back… yeah, right.

We also tried contacting Airbnb via their website. There was some back and forth which ended up as a short thread that was eventually moved to email. Once it got moved, the Airbnb contact names would change with every explanation.

A couple of days went by and lo and behold what do you think happened? That’s right, we got another visitor, a couple actually. They too had been bamboozled by this scam but did they get a call from Airbnb with a heads-up? Apparently not.

We continued our calls for the next several days. I also CC’d two Airbnb executives in my emails along with the various associates they assigned to us. Still, no courtesy call or explanation. They’re up for an IPO I hear. I wish them luck. With this type of non-customer service, I will not be indulging in any of their stock. I also canceled my Airbnb account. Has this happened to any other poor souls out there?

Our property used as basis for multi-national scam

My husband and I have a lovely studio apartment in Montenegro, on our own property with our house next to it. It is our only letting property.

Last night we were first puzzled and then amazed and then horrified to get bookings come in for properties in the centre of London, Paris, Amsterdam, Dublin, Barcelona – cities where to have properties in the areas advertised would cost millions. I phoned the Airbnb desk in London (+44 203 318 111 from our Airbnb page) and spoke to a helpful chap who said that he would de-list the properties and pass on the complaint to a higher level. I assume he has done something as some of those properties are in fact de-listed.

However, we are still getting automatic reminders to deal with the 100-odd bookings which have come in since last night. At least the number I phoned seems to be genuine, a worry I had after ending the call. We have still to be contacted by the Airbnb legal team or whoever deals with scams, but I thought a post on this site might help to warn other hosts – and guests – that your site may well be a target for scammers able to bypass Airbnb’s automatic systems.

Airbnb Fraud Not Addressed by Company

We have recently been victim of an Airbnb fraud. While searching through the app for an accommodation for a weekend, we came across an Airbnb verified listing that led us to contact the host outside the platform. The listing was inviting us to contact the host via email due to issues in synching their Airbnb calendar and was openly providing an email address.

As described in the listing, we contacted the host and after some back and forth on details, the host generated an Airbnb-like booking confirmation email. Very professionally, the email was sent from an Airbnb-like email address and contained a link to customer service. Before carrying out the wire transfer, we unfortunately checked with what we believed was Airbnb’s customer service and got assurance about the legitimacy of the listing/booking.

I discovered this was a fraud a couple of weeks after carrying out the payment, as the booking did not appear in my Airbnb app. I then reported this to Airbnb complaining about the fact that they had hosts verified through their on-boarding process that led me to a scam and requesting some form of help or compensation.

Airbnb has been handling the issue in an extremely unfair way through their (outsourced) fraud department, fundamentally saying that they are not in any way responsible for anything that happened to me and that they can’t control what’s going on their platform. They closed my case a couple of times and no one, whether they’re in the fraud department or customer service, has been helpful in any way.

Not only that, but a few days after I reported my fraud case to Airbnb, I could find very similar fraudulent listings on the platform and I reported them – clearly they didn’t act upon them. My question is the following: is there any consumer protection for this issue? What do you suggest doing? The amount here is considerable (a few thousands euros). Any help would be very much appreciated.

Fake Host Tries to Use Airbnb for Rental Scam

I posted an ad on Gumtree that me and my partner were looking for somewhere to rent privately. I was a little confused when I received an email from a guy in Germany. He thanked me for my interest in his property (I’d never seen it) and sent me some photos to review. He said he was a live-out landlord from Germany and wanted someone to take over his property and make it his own.

I should have questioned where he got my work email from (the ad I had posted on Gumtree was via my personal account). He asked for some personal details about myself. I replied with a fairly lengthy message stating I like to knit, don’t really party, and am a clean, reliable person, etc. He told me the all in rent PCM (per calendar month) was £600. I was already thinking this was too good to be true: a place in the centre of town, less than I currently pay for my room in shared accommodation, all bills included, a parking space included, etc. All the other places like this I had been viewing were double the price.

He told me that as he is in Germany he cannot show me the apartment beforehand. He said I must pay one month’s rent plus a two-month security deposit, and to do it through Airbnb as they allow me to cancel my booking up until the day I check in/move in. I asked him for details on the tenancy agreement, and apparently he could not send me anything without my ID, full address, etc. He said after I moved into the apartment he would send a signed contract and a spare key.

I kind of kept this going to see how far this person would go. I had no intention of renting this property and sending a stranger £1800 without first viewing an apartment. I have forwarded this to a number of scamming sites and reported it to Gumtree but the ad is still left up as live. I’m not sure what else to do. Maybe posting on here will help. Email thread below.

[Editor’s Note: grammatical errors left intentionally so you can have a better idea of the writing style of scammers]

“Host”: Thank you for taking the time to look at my property. I am a civil engineer, originally from Germany. I bought the apartment with bank credit 5 years ago for our child who went at college there, but this year he finish the college and moved back to Germany because he has found a better job here in Germany and now we have to rent it to pay the remaining credit to the bank. I am looking for a responsible person that can take a very good care of my apartment. I am not after the money for the rent but want it to be clean all the time and the possible tenant will see the apartment as his or her own and I hope that you can send me some personal information about yourself.

Me: Many thanks for getting in touch, glad to hear from you. Your apartment looks lovely – thanks for sending over some photos. I see we both work in the electronics field. To tell you a little about myself; I moved to Brighton just over three years ago for my current job as a Recruitment Consultant based in Central Brighton. For the past three years I have lived in rented shared accommodation (always through private landlords as I prefer to have direct contact) and am now looking for a flat with my partner to move in together. I have been working in recruitment for around seven years now, hold a senior position within my company, and can provide proof of earnings if needed.

In my current flat, my roommates and I have total management of the property – our landlord lives abroad in France so we are in charge if anything needs fixing, etc. My partner and I are extremely clean people and have never once had a complaint from living in shared housing for the past three years. I have only lived at my current flat for just over a year and have already paid to have a professional cleaner and carpet cleaners come in during my time there at my own cost, just to freshen the place up.

As a person, I enjoy doing crafts (knitting, painting, sewing) and my partner is a musician and plays in a local Brighton band. I am a working professional so we don’t “party” during the week or anything like that. One of the reasons we are looking to move out of shared accommodation is because we would prefer a quieter space for ourselves. I am able to provide references from previous and current landlords if required, or feel free to let me know if you have any other questions. I have a few questions:

• Where exactly is the flat located?
• How much is rent/bills per month?
• What is the minimum/maximum tenancy you are looking for?
• When are you looking for someone to move in?

“Host”: The apartment (1 living room / 1 kitchen / 1 Baths / 1 bedroom with king bed, 1 parking spot) is located on ______, Brighton. The apartment is fully furnished with all necessary amenities (it’s exactly like in the pics). I’m sure that you will love it. It has dishwasher, washing machine, air conditioning and clothes dryer. The rent of the flat for 1 month is £600 including all utilities (water, electricity, Internet, cable, parking, garbage, tv) and two months security deposit £1,200. I am looking for someone to rent anywhere from three months to three years or more.

Obviously we need a way to complete this deal in a safe and fast way for both since I am in Germany and i can’t show you the apartment. The solution is provided by a company called “Airbnb” (www.airbnb.co.uk) which will handle the payment of the first month and the security deposit. I guess you heard about Airbnb. They are the largest and most secure site for rents. I chose Airbnb because you send the money to them and you can cancel your booking any time until check in date (https://www.airbnb.com/home/cancellation_policies) and Airbnb will send your money back. Let me know if you are interested because I really need to take care of this matter as soon as possible.

Me: Thank you for getting back to me, the place really does look ideal. I have searched for the address on Google Maps but it brings me to Lloyd’s Bank on North Street. Do you have any outside photos of the property or a link to an online advertisement? When are you looking for someone to move in by? I will need to give notice on my current apartment. I am familiar with Airbnb but only for making short term/holiday bookings. Will there be a chance to view the apartment beforehand?

“Host”: If you are ready to proceed with this transaction I must tell you how this service works and what we need to do. You have to pay the first month of rent £600 and 2 months security deposit of £1.200 (total £ 1,800) to Airbnb (after first month you will pay directly to me in my bank account), after you book the apartment from Airbnb I will send you the keys via UPS (2 days urgent delivery) and then you can go to see the apartment. If you decide not to rent the apartment, Airbnb will refund your money back in the same day but I’m sure that you will love it because it is like in the photos. If you like the apartment Airbnb will send me the money only after you check in (move), in the apartment. So you can put the checkin date the end of this month so you have time to decide if you keep the apartment or not. After you move in the apartment I will send to you the contract signed by me and a backup key. Let me know if you are interested because I really need to take care of this matter by the end of this week.

Me: Thank you for getting back to me. Everything really does sound lovely but unfortunately I am too wary to send over that amount of money without first being able to view the apartment / without anything tangible to show that this apartment is for rent. Do you have a copy of your tenancy agreement? I also still need to give notice on my current flat, so wont be in a position to move immediately.

“Host”: In order to make the contract I will need a copy of your id and your full address. You don’t have any reason to worry because you can cancel your booking any time until the check in date and Airbnb will refund your money back. You will send the money to Airbnb, not to me and I will receive the money from them after the check in date.