How to recognize an Airbnb scam

How to recognize an Airbnb scam

Last Fall, a reporter from VICE unintentionally uncovered an alleged scam ring that was operating on Airbnb. She found that several hosts were using bait and switch tactics to get guests into substandard accommodations. In her case, the hosts said that there was a plumbing accident at the property she had booked but they offered her a substitute booking. The replacement lodging was compared to that of a flophouse. She discovered that the hosts were allegedly pulling the same scam using different names all over the country. It seems that these scammers were not the only ones.

In a recent follow-up article, VICE reached out to their readers and asked them what scams they had encountered while using Airbnb. The bait and switch was an obvious one with many people reporting that hosts would say that something happened to the property in the listing, like a plumbing emergency, and that they would rent them a different listing which of course was substandard. Another common scam was hosts trying to get guests to pay for their stays outside of the Airbnb platform through either cryptocurrency, check, or a third-party payment app. Other respondents said that hosts would often try to charge them for damages where the fees were much greater than the cost to repair the damages.

Unfortunately, with the way the Airbnb platform is set up, you can’t often detect a scam listing until you’ve already made arrangements. The best protection against these scams is to thoroughly research the hosts. It’s recommended that you do a reverse image search on their profile pictures to make sure the hosts aren’t using stock images or images they found online. You can also research the people leaving good reviews for the hosts to make sure they’re not the hosts leaving phony reviews. However, the only foolproof way to avoid Airbnb scams is to rent a hotel room.