Three Types of Airbnb SCAMS

One of the most common and heartbreaking stories we hear at Airbnb Hell is about scammers. Newbies to the website think they’re paying a legitimate host for their dream vacation, when in fact they’re getting a room in a flophouse, or nothing at all.  What are some of the scams we’ve heard about?

 

Bait and Switch

It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book. Airbnb guests book what appears to be an amazing property at a more than reasonable price, only to be told on arrival or just when it’s too late to look for alternative accommodations that the house in the pictures isn’t available due to an “Airbnb glitch”, but what luck! The host has a comparable property at a different address.

News flash: the first listing never existed. It was all a lure to get you to pay and then force you to accept a worse deal because you’re now desperate and in an unfamiliar city. The biggest giveaway here is a lack of reviews, and a price too good for the quality.

 

Paying by Wire Transfer

NEVER, never pay for an Airbnb reservation by clicking on an email link – no matter how authentic it may look – or a wire transfer directly from your bank. Airbnb is slow to crack down on fake listings like these brazenly telling guests to click on a link in their profile to book; the more clever ones wait until you make a legitimate booking or inquiry through Airbnb, then send you a fake email with Airbnb logos with payment instructions. In the end, Airbnb may continue to list the scammers but – as far as we’ve heard – has never refunded anyone.

 

Lying About Vermin

Scams on Airbnb can affect hosts as easily as guests, and this particular one is why Airbnb Hell got started in the first place. A seemingly normal guest makes a booking, is friendly in his communications, and arrives without incident. Near the end of his stay, he abruptly leaves, files a complaint with Airbnb claiming there were cockroaches, rats, or some other vermin on the property, and expects a 50% refund.

These scammers usually book longer stays so they can maximize their ill-gotten refund. They might even bring bugs onto the property so they can doctor photos. Airbnb policy hasn’t changed much to protect hosts from these types of lies.

Supposedly furnished studio was not furnished!

I had never used Airbnb before, but friends had said positive things about their experiences. I wanted a studio apartment, furnished, for a month in Strasbourg, France, while I house-hunted and decided on my future. I reserved a furnished studio. I knew the location. The host accepted the reservation, and Airbnb took my money.

The host then called me to say she wanted to cancel as there was no bed in the apartment (why didn’t she know this before?) – this was while I was on my way to meet her at the apartment to get the keys! I couldn’t afford to wait for a refund and pay another rental at the same time. In any case I had to stay three nights in a hotel while waiting for the bed, which the host then decided could not be delivered for another two weeks (I could have gone to IKEA and bought a sofa bed the same afternoon in her place). At this point she offered me a 200€ refund, which I accepted, being otherwise homeless and already having spent a bunch of money I hadn’t budgeted for.

The description said the place had basic kitchen items, but there was no plate, cup, saucepan, cutlery – nothing. I had to buy all that, as well as all the bed linen. Towels too. The shower curtain was filthy, the shower didn’t drain properly, and the paint was peeling off the bathroom walls. The mirror was broken. Later I realized there was no smoke alarm, illegal in France. People smoked cannabis in the lift, corridors and hallways.

The host insisted that on move-out day (today) I had to return the keys at 10 am. So I had to leave some bags in the hallway as I couldn’t move everything at once. She just shrugged. When I came back for my last bag (a small suitcase of clothes) it had been stolen. She of course was long gone by then. I had left the apartment cleaner than I found it.

This is 1a rue des Cigognes, Strasbourg, France.

Read this BEFORE you pay on Airbnb!

I was looking for accommodation via Airbnb so I completed all the verification steps as requested including email verification as well as mobile phone verification, I then got the ”pay now” message, and I paid.  I then was allowed to book a place and I have done so. Then AFTER I booked the place and AFTER I paid for the place, surprisingly I got a ”just one more” verification process is required, a Drivers Licence – message. I followed instructions, tried to upload a pic of my Drivers Licence but couldn’t, I tried (as per instructions on the screen) to place in front of the Web cam and again could not do so – for four (4) hours. So basically I lost my money.

I googled the review section of Airbnb and looks like losing money and time and being ”transferred” to another agent/department and other horror stories from Airbnb is common. With me it is only money gone to the garbage bin, oh and half a day attempting to upload a picture of the Driver’s Licence.  I am not against the DL verification, I am against asking for it AFTER the payment is done – this is where I lost my money, if the verification request had been BEFORE the payment, I would never have paid – oh and there is nobody to talk to, nobody to contact.  Smart Airbnb, tricked me into this sh@#t/  So after posting this, they suddenly got back to me with ”regarding your offline ID, our system was unable to accept it because the image you uploaded was a mirror image of the ID” Well, first of all you are missing my point, why the payment was made BEFORE completion of the verification process, payment should be the very LAST thing to do. Hasn’t your Web Master heard the term ”process flow”??  Deliberately and intentionally placing additional processes and verifications especially those that not possible to fulfill AFTER payment is done clearly indicates to me that those verification steps are there to avoid providing the services – just grab the money and run. So I was robed inside my own house in broad day light!

In regard to the process itself, well the web message was to ”place the ID in FRONT of the web cam” – and you DELIBERATELY asked me to create a mirror image – which your web ”can’t read” – in one word it’s called a ”scam”! There was NO mention or error displayed at the time stating that the problem was ”MIRROR” imaging, the only message coming up was to place the Drivers Licence in front of the Web Cam and take a shot – which I did for 4 hours continuously. SCAM SCAM SCAM!

I don’t think the Australian Government should permit this sort of Internet Scam to operate and a draft letter to key parliament members is now finished and is about to be sent – I will be requesting to outlaw Airbnb – DO NOT DO ANY BUSINESS WITH AIRBNB – THEY COULD BE FORCED TO CLOSE ANY TIME NOW!!!!!!

AIRBNB HOST DOUBLES PRICE AFTER BOOKING – NO PENALTY!

My husband and I are going to be in Brazil for Christmas and New Years 2016. We found a great apartment minutes from the beach for $200/night, so I booked 2 nights for New Years eve and the day after. It took a while to get through the booking process as I had to take a photograph of both sides of my driver’s license to prove my identity, but I finally made it through the process. The reservation was accepted and my credit card was charged.

5 days later, the host sent me the following email: “Hi Chris, thank you for your reservation and your preference. I am so sorry about the price i haven’t seen the price, it is wrong. In the new years eve it will be $250 daily for 15 nights minimum or i can make for you $400 daily for this 2 nights that you want . what do you think?” So the host claims that she made a mistake in pricing, tries to double the price, or asks me to extend my day from 2 days to 15 days for a price per day 25% higher. Right, that sounds like a good deal. AirBnB’s online documentation for what to do if the host asks for more money (https://www.airbnb.com/help/article/251/what-if-a-host-asks-for-more-money) says: “If a host asks you for more money than what you paid on the site and the extra charge wasn’t stated in the listing or in the message thread, contact us and we’ll contact your host directly.” So I responded politely to the host’s email: “Hi Paula, I received your message. According to AirBnB’s documentation, https://www.airbnb.com/help/article/251/what-if-a-host-asks-for-more-money, in this circumstance they recommend that I contact them directly about such a request. I have just sent AirBnB customer service an email describing your request. I expect you will be hearing from them shortly.”

I expected that AirBnB would require the host to honor the contract made for this location. I was shocked when AirBnB replied: “Hi Chris This is Luka from Airbnb again. I spoke to your host and she decided to cancel your reservation. I am really sorry about that. You can either request your full refund or having the amount you paid transferred to another host. Please check the email you received from us with the subject line: “Reservation Canceled at Luxury 2 bd steps…” I hope you will find a nice listing for the dates you need. Please contact us if you need any help. Warmest regards, Luka” Ok, the host cancelled, and I got an apology and “warmest regards”. How politely disappointing. If I rebooked at a different location, they would give me a small credit. Or I could get a full refund. Better than zero, but what happened to the greedy host that cancelled?

According to AirBnB’s documentation (https://www.airbnb.com/help/article/990/how-do-host-cancellation-penalties-work), if a host cancels without extenuating circumstances, they suffer penalties. In particular: “Your calendar will stay blocked and you won’t be able to accept another reservation for the same dates of the canceled reservation” Furthermore, “An automated review will be posted to your listing’s profile indicating that you canceled one of your reservations. These reviews can’t be removed, but you can always write a public response to clarify why you needed to cancel.” As to “extenuating circumstances”, when you click on the link, it doesn’t offer any more information. In fact, the link takes you back to the “how-do-host-cancellation-penalties-work”. Reading more of the fine print on the page, AirBnB gives hosts that allow for instant booking three (3) get-out-of-penalty chances “if they have concerns about a guest’s behavior.” This listing allowed instant booking. However it goes on to say “Calendar inaccuracy, confusion about pricing or availability, and extenuating circumstances are not covered by this policy”. If the host was confused about pricing, as her email clearly indicates, then the host should not be immune to the cancellation penalty.

However, I went on the AirBnB website for that listing and saw that the property (https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/9772188) was available for the dates that I had booked, been accepted and been summarily cancelled 5 days later, not for $400/night, but for $250/night. The minimum stay is still 2 days, not 15 days. Furthermore, there was no review stating that a reservation had been cancelled. Clearly the host was trying to scam me by doubling the price, or requiring me to stay for more than 2 weeks. And yet apparently there’s no penalty to the host. But the worst is that AirBnB demonstrably does not live up to their published terms of service.

What are the consequences to AirBnB for a breach of their stated terms of service?

Hosts were scam artists and AirBnB did nothing to help!

I hosted my boyfriend’s birthday at an AirBnB cabin in a ski town in California. As all 15 of my guests were driving several hours up to the cabin we were contacted and told that our booked cabin was flooded.  Airbnb helped us find another cabin large enough to hold all 15 guests, however the new cabin cost additional $600. There was also a huge increase in cleaning fees. We had a lot of trouble with parking our cars since we were told we could park four cars and there was no parking due to a snow-covered driveway which the host had not cleared of snow. In the end, we went home frustrated but we were not too upset about the overall experience. However, several days later after I wrote a review recording that there was nowhere to park at the cabin, the host accused us of breaking a rod iron stove grate. They told us it would be $245 to replace it. I let my case manager through Airbnb know that we did not break the grate. But because I did not have pictures of the grate, Airbnb charged me the money through my deposit. After this happened I went through the reviews on yelp about the cabins rental company and discovered 10 other accusations from other guests that the same rental company scammed them out of their entire deposit. When I tried to share this information repeatedly with Airbnb I was never given any reconsideration of my situation. In the end they told me there was absolutely nothing that could be done and that the reviews on yelp had nothing to do with my case. I have rented homes all over the world but I will not go through AirBnB again.  They really didn’t care at all that there was obviously a trend where this hosting company took advantage of guests.

Scammed by bastards… Airbnb does nothing.

I’ve just tried to book an apartment in London for 4 days. The Airbnb advertisement clearly said “contact me by email.. since Airbnb is too slow”. Of course.. the app didn’t work and I’ve tried to contact them.  Then after I emailed them… everything goes all smooth as expected.  Scammer asked me some fake details… then pushed me for transfer money urgently .. and that’s the story. When I tried to see my apartment after sending the money, the advertisement and user disappeared.  Bank was contacted.. no help there.  Police also.. no help there. Airbnb.. of course.. “let’s see… we’ll report it…”.. but I guess that was the extent of their response. No word back from Airbnb.. NEVER EVER.

Tips:

1) Don’t use email ever on this kind of things.

2) Don’t rely on someone that is pushing you “It’s urgent.. etc”

3) Don’t wire your money directly to them.. (yes .. I know I was stupid.. ).

Never Airbnb again…

Airbnb FRAUD cost me 1460 Euros, & it was preventable!

Airbnb fraud cost me 1460 Euros! They aren’t doing enough to protect their community from fraudsters. I have had many happy trips with airbnb, but after this I will never use them again. They simply aren’t doing enough to protect their customers. I went to book accommodation in Amsterdam for new year, when I saw a message in the description of the listing offering 20% discount through ‘instant book’ (on the actual airbnb.co.uk site), I just had to email the host and they would enable instant booking to make the payment. ‘Fair enough’ I thought, they want to get people in quickly. Makes sense. So I emailed the host with the dates and a request to instant book. I then received an email from Herman (the host) with a link to instant book. The URL is still active https://www.airbnb.com.book.srl/instant/rooms/5913502?checkin=12292015&checkout=01022016&currency=&guests=8 You’ll notice the URL is airbnb.com.book.srl, which at the time i believed to be Airbnb, which it evidently is not. (these links are no longer active after I brought it to airbnbs attention!) So screenshots are attached. Once you click instant book and enter payment details the following page appears with a slightly confusing error message (images attached). https://www.airbnb.com.book.srl/instant/rooms/status?accepted=false&hosting_id=9652369 After a bit of back and forth with Herman (perfect English I might add) I requested the invoice to be sent. I then received the attached email (too long to put here) and stupidly made payment through transfer. I then received emails from a very a very convincing airbnb finance team representative (express@reply-airbnb.com). Emails written as though from one of Airbnb’s real employees, here’s the linked in profile… but i don’t think this poor guy has anything to do with it. At this moment, I started to realize I’d made a mistake! I called my bank who said you can’t stop a payment like this, also notified Barclays (where the money was being transferred to), seemingly to no avail. During this entire process Herman was continuing to email and reassure me that everything was OK and the payment hadn’t come through yet. I also contacted airbnb who said that they had removed his profile and very annoying then decided to tell me never to make a payment away from airbnb (which I didn’t think I had), until they specified bank transfer. I have now followed the link where the initial listing was and it’s still live, this is after airbnb said that Herman’s account has been blocked! It has the same reviews the same host, but different apartment pictures and is on the actual airbnb.co.uk site. So unfortunately it’s inevitable that this will happen again to someone else. https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/1125879?checkin=29-12-2015&checkout=02-01-2016&guests=3&s=R92_NDn9 I really feel Airbnb could have done so much more to protect me during this absolute nightmare. Not only have they allowed the fraudulent account to continue, but make a bigger play on the fact that no payments should be done offline rather than display instant booking everywhere. They say “At Airbnb, we do everything we can to create a safe and trusted marketplace.” I don’t think this is true. I’m now completely skint 2 days before Christmas with a cancelled trip for the New Year. Thanks Airbnb, but NEVER EVER again.

AirBNB Superhost Raised Price AFTER Accepting Booking!

My first time booking with AirBnB, and it was an amazingly FRUSTRATING experience. After my host accepted my reservation, she then messaged me saying she had posted the wrong accommodation prices, and asked me to accept the new property price listing. I told her that as she had already accepted my reservation, I would not pay her extra. She then told me to pay her in cash in person. I then contacted AirBnB and told them what had happened, and they said they would assign a case manager. After an initial email, I have had NO replies from the case manager and his last email stated “If your host ends up asking for additional payment at the time of check-in, you can also refer them to the Resolutions Center. The Resolution Center allows you to offer or request money for your Airbnb reservation. By using the Resolution Center, Airbnb is able to verify and process any agreements that you may reach…If your host does not allow you to check in, then please contact us immediately and we can get you a new place to stay. I hope this is helpful.” NO THAT WAS NOT HELPFUL! Do you want me to rock up to the accommodation and then contact Resolution Center if she demands more money from me in person?! Or she doesn’t even honour the reservation?! PLEASE DO NOT BOOK WITH AIRBNB FOR YOUR SANITY!!!!!!!!

Airbnb Host Stole Belongings of Guest – No Airbnb Help!

I got scammed on Airbnb and it was a totally legit listing. I only communicated with the people through the Airbnb app. When I got to the house and met the folks they seemed cool. When I went out for dinner, they stole all my stuff and locked me out. They told Airbnb my dog was violent and they were scared. I tried multiple times but I couldn’t get any refund and my luggage and laptop and camera, everything was stolen. They are still on Airbnb offering the same listing. I’d say Airbnb needs to be made illegal in every state. That’s the only time I used them so in my eyes they have 100% scam rate. There is no protection if you use them. The renters were even able to change their refund policy after I paid and the new rules were instantly considered valid. To make it worse, they sent me an email saying God bless, Jesus loves you. Also, once they canceled my reservation I wasn’t allowed to leave negative feedback. So, no one will ever know by looking at their listing.

Fake Airbnb website, don’t be fooled!

I found a nice apartment in Oman on the olx.com.om website and I contacted the owner. He replied to me and said that he is currently in London cause his contract in Oman has finished in 2011, he has the keys from flat in Muscat with him and he will fly to Muscat as soon as he finds reliable tenants. I was interested in a long term rent, the apartment was very nice and I was ready to talk with him on skype to convince him how good and neat couple me and my husband are. I got a long letter from him, his passport copy and not even a single answer to any of my questions… it was like I got the answers from a robot. Then he sent me an email saying: “I had bad experiences with prospective tenants so that it happened for me to travel to Muscat for nothing which involved a complete waste of time and efforts. Having received proofs from tenants according with them being interested in renting (passport, job contracts showing their earnings, bank statements) proved to be ineffective for my certainty. Some tenants tend to put additional conditions even if they had not been discussed previously or worse, they sometimes still try to negotiate after traveling back to London. Some of them also asked me to wait until the end of the month for them to get paid. I hope my explanation is enough for you to understand my point of view and why I chose Airbnb. My apartment is listed on airbnb.com and I have more good reviews. Let me know if you know about airbnb and I if you are ready to rent the apartment for the first month. That is my certainty guarantee and the only way I can come to Muscat.” I said I don’t mind to rent his apartment through airbnb for the first month and asked him to give me the link. He said he will send it to me shortly and I only got it the next day.

This is the address that I saw in my browser after I clicked on the link he sent me: http://airbnb-rent-booking-apartment-verified.ashanti.ro/rooms/2367933?View Which looked exactly like airbnb and had the payment system in it. Of course it was clear for me that this website is fake airbnb and someone was just trying to get a 1500$ transfer from me. So be very careful and make sure you deal with real airbnb 😉