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Fri Nov 1, 2019, 10:18 AM

I Accidentally Uncovered a Nationwide Scam on Airbnb



The call came about 10 minutes before we were set to check into the Airbnb. I was sitting at a brewery just around the corner from the rental on North Wood Street in Chicago when the man on the other end of the line said that our planned visit wouldn’t be possible. A previous guest had flushed something down the toilet, which had left the unit flooded with water, he explained. Apologetic, he promised to let us stay in another property he managed until he could call a plumber.

I had flown with two friends to the city in hopes of a relaxing end-of-summer getaway. We had purchased tickets to attend the September music festival Riot Fest, where Blink-182 and Taking Back Sunday were scheduled to perform. The trip had gotten off to a rough start even before the call. Around a month before, a first Airbnb host had already canceled, leaving us with little time to figure out alternative housing. While scrambling to find something else, I stumbled upon a local Airbnb rental listed by a couple, Becky and Andrew. Sure, the house looked a little basic in the photos online, but it was nice enough, especially considering the time crunch—light-filled, spacious, and close to the Blue Line.

Now, we were facing our second potential disaster in 30 days, and I couldn’t help but feel slightly suspicious of the man on the phone, who had called me from a number with a Los Angeles area code. Hoping to talk in person, I asked him if he was in the area. He said that he was at work and didn’t really have time to chat. Then he added that I needed to decide immediately if I was willing to change my reservation.

As if he could hear me calculating in my head how much of a hassle it would be to find a hotel instead, he then added something else to his pitch.

“It’s about three times bigger,” the man said. “That’s the good news.”

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/43k7z3/nationwide-fake-host-scam-on-airbnb

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Arrow 13 replies Author Time Post
Reply I Accidentally Uncovered a Nationwide Scam on Airbnb (Original post)
demmiblue Nov 1 OP
Sneederbunk Nov 1 #1
Ninga Nov 1 #2
C_U_L8R Nov 1 #3
frazzled Nov 1 #4
jmowreader Nov 1 #5
lagomorph777 Nov 1 #10
renate Nov 1 #6
DarthDem Nov 1 #7
Centerfielder Nov 1 #8
PoindexterOglethorpe Nov 1 #9
Chalco Nov 2 #11
dalton99a Nov 2 #12
Sancho Nov 2 #13

Response to demmiblue (Original post)

Fri Nov 1, 2019, 10:23 AM

1. Ye olde Bait and Switch.

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Response to demmiblue (Original post)

Fri Nov 1, 2019, 10:31 AM

2. Highly recommend. Nt

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Response to demmiblue (Original post)

Fri Nov 1, 2019, 10:44 AM

3. Verifying people are who they say they are

...is the greatest fault of the digital world right now. I could give a shit that Twitter banned political advertising. It's the fraudulent bots and disinformation agents and scammers who are the greatest threat.

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Response to demmiblue (Original post)

Fri Nov 1, 2019, 10:46 AM

4. "how much of a hassle it would be to find a hotel"

What's the hassle? (Especially compared to the hassle and expense this person went through). You get online and go to hotels.com or expedia or kayak, and you look for a room. I just searched last minute deals on one of those sites and found some excellent hotels, in far better, more convenient locations than the writer was citing, for extremely reasonable fees. And at least you know the hotel will be there. And you will be close to public transportation rather than in some remote neighborhood where you'll have to keep calling ubers or lyfts.

If airbnb can't control the scams on their site, they should refund the total cost. Sue the mfs. They have to be responsible. Chicago has some strict airbnb laws (thanks to my alderman). Short-term residential rentals must be licensed (and the license number must be posted on any advertisement or website, such as airbnb), carry liability insurance, be subject to inspection by the board of health, etc.
My condo building has prohibited owners from renting out their units, as do many others. So use an airbnb listing at your own risk in this city, double check any licensing numbers, and report infractions to the City for enforcement.

Better yet, just get a hotel. They're regulated.

https://www.chicago.gov/content/dam/city/depts/bacp/Small%20Business%20Center/sharedhousingordinanceamendments.pdf

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Response to demmiblue (Original post)

Fri Nov 1, 2019, 10:48 AM

5. And now you know why I will never use Airbnb

If I stay in a hotel or a hostel, I know what I’m going to get.

I also will not pay money to ride in the back of some unregulated stranger’s car.

And this stuff about “regulation will kill this fledgling industry” is BS. Uber/Lyft and AirBNB/Vrbo have been around long enough that some sensible regulation will only help then.

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Response to jmowreader (Reply #5)

Fri Nov 1, 2019, 01:59 PM

10. The whole concept of AirBnB, Uber, Turo, etc creeps me out.

I can't imagine ever using a service like that - as customer or as provider.

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Response to demmiblue (Original post)

Fri Nov 1, 2019, 10:49 AM

6. I've never even stayed at an Airbnb and that pissed me off

Their policy seems to be that the customer is always wrong.

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Response to demmiblue (Original post)

Fri Nov 1, 2019, 11:01 AM

7. The "Hassle" of Getting a Hotel

Are you kidding me? Yeah, much easier to save a buck by staying in some unregulated weirdo's condo. And if anything goes wrong, don't call Air BnB! They've pocketed their money already and aren't interested in your problems.

Air BnB's "appeal" escapes me even more than that of Uber/Lyft.

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Response to demmiblue (Original post)

Fri Nov 1, 2019, 11:37 AM

8. This is why

I use hotels and taxis.

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Response to demmiblue (Original post)

Fri Nov 1, 2019, 01:14 PM

9. I have never understood why anyone would want to use Airbnb.

Staying in the home of an amateur hotelier? Why? When there are lots and lots of regular hotels, mostly chains, out there, to choose from. You can stay cheap or you can stay expensive, but almost always you'll know what you're getting.

The biggest red flag in the article above was that when they got to the supposed location of the substitute place, the address didn't exist. so they got out of the car and started searching on foot? How bright is that? And why would someone (this remark occurs at the very end of the article) think they have no alternative to Airbnb when they travel? There are hotels/motels everywhere.

And yeah, getting a regular hotel isn't going to be a hassle unless some enormous hotel-room-sucking thing is happening in that city, like a World Series game, or the SuperBowl, or some such. And often last minute hotels are real deals because they'd rather sell the room cheaply than have it go empty.

People are too trusting. No wonder the scammers who claim to be from the IRS or some Prince in Africa get millions of dollars every year.

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Response to demmiblue (Original post)

Sat Nov 2, 2019, 08:16 AM

11. I've used AirBnB plenty of times

I've used Airbnb in Manhattan, Los Angeles, Burbank, England in total
probably 50 times and never had a problem.

Oh, well. But, I will watch out for the above reported scam.

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Response to demmiblue (Original post)

Sat Nov 2, 2019, 11:25 AM

12. A must read.

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Response to demmiblue (Original post)

Sat Nov 2, 2019, 11:34 AM

13. I've used AirBnB many times...

including internationally (Italy, Portugal, Bahamas, etc.).

I've never had a problem. I almost always communicate with the host and ask questions before I book the reservation. If things don't seem right, I usually figure it out.

I've had as many bad hotel visits as AirBnB.

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