A new scam...? Guests “in trouble”

I have had two strange requests in the last week with similar patterns. Have other people had this happen?

A guest tried to book, and then contacted us, writing in spanish. We do not claim to know spanish on our profile, but my husband has a decent grasp. So he responded, and the guest says that they have been trying and trying to get their payment through, and they need help doing so. My husband responded that there’s nothing we can do from our end if they can’t get a payment through Airbnb. She said that she was at Walmart (20 minute drive away), and that she had like 5 people and 2 kids. The unit requested is very small, with a queen bed, and just barely enough room for a mattress on the floor. The guest was wanting to book right now, and come immediately. We declined to host them, as it was just asking for trouble.

Then today, we get a paid reservation to stay at our place tomorrow night. She then cancelled the reservation, but because it is short notice, Airbnb only refunded her $12 (out of $100). She wanted to call us and “talk over her difficulties.” Which, as it turned out, was that she is in a town 30 minutes away, with no car. I think she was fishing for us to give her a ride or something. We declined and just refunded all her money to her.

Is it a thing where people who need help are trying to find friendly Airbnb hosts to help them out somehow? Or was it just a few people who don’t quite understand how this Airbnb business works.

First one def a scam. The next one, not sure. You might want to not allow last minute reservations as they are sometimes trouble with people who are poor planners. There are hosts here who take same day reservations and it works for them. For us after 8 years hosting, we have a two day advance notice to request to book. We no longer get these kind of weird requests.
And be careful of so many declines as they count against you.


I do IB but same day they have to ask.

I also have some weird requests, not a lot but they stick in the memory. I have a couple of bookings that never went through, one I know was not a scam.

I am near a long distance hiking trail so I have dropped people off. the 30 minutes away well why did they not book somewhere there

But you did help her out! You gave her a full refund against your cancellation policy.


Yes. We’ve heard stories here of professional squatters who use the AirBnB platform to get tenants rights because the AirBnB screening is not nearly as rigorous as a landlord’s screening.

I’m not surprised if people are using it as more short-term housing to fill an emergency need, similar to those who live in motels and pay by the day. Though motels take cash, and AirBnB doesn’t, so they’d have to be able to have it together enough to have a debit or credit card.

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I think airbnb is the solution for people that have gotten evicted. It’s usually cheaper than a motel. Those are bad guests to have.


Both of these situations involve customer service, not you.

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I am a long distance hiker. I would love to do pick ups and drop offs. But the CDT crosses us about 50 miles away. We do a ton for our guests, and really enjoy that part. But not at 11:00 at night for a reservation that is supposed to start the following day. I make people request to book if less than 24 hours in advance, but we have had quite a bit of business from people needing a place to stay. We are at a remote crossroads in CO, so lots of people don’t realize how big this place is— even people from the Front Range, so we get people thinking they will drive from, say, Albuquerque to Denver, and then they realize that this isn’t compatible with having lunch in Taos.

Someday we will only take 2 night reservations, but for now we kind of put up with frequent cleanings and hassles because it brings in a lot of “extra” cash for us. But we are working on just moving toward longer term stays, as people are begging for those, and Airbnb doesn’t get to take such a huge cut.

Yeah, and now I’m wondering if we screwed ourselves. We gave her a full refund, and so ABB took $86 out of our account. But she will never check in, which means that we will never get paid that $86. Isn’t that how it works? I’ve given people money back before, but it has always been people who have actually stayed with us.

@Maggieroni— We have never declined a guest officially through ABB… We ask them to cancel. In the case of the Spanish speaking woman, she had requested to stay, but because she couldn’t complete the transaction, I assume it is not us who got dinged. Please let me know if I’m not doing it right. :slight_smile:

I fron on to the Divide Trail so get a lot of cyclists, some book most are just turning up.

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I believe this happened to me recently. After they where in for a few days they inquired about paying cash for the next week and asking if I had apartments for rent… it was creepy

When I have people who say they are having trouble booking it is usually the older newbies. In that case I call the super host line and ask the rep to reach out and help them. My most recent example was a successful, but now retired commercial/music video director who grew up in my neighborhood and is coming back for a visit with his well-known show biz family. He’d never used Airbnb before. Definitely not a scammer.

I also get last minute requests from people who are traumatized.
And yes, they may be registered and ready to pay.
But they can bring a whack of stress with them.
Everybody has limits.
In situations like this I need to ask myself how much myself and the other guests can manage. And how much i can support therm.

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This happened to us recently and they were terrible, extremely needy guests. They broke several house rules as they seemed incapable of understanding them. Never again. If they can’t figure it out themselves I will never again call Airbnb to assist. I described this in another thread “lesson learned”.
I’m glad you had a better experience.

I’m the same. I’m sympathetic and make the right ‘helpful’ noises but my message is ‘call Airbnb and they’ll help you’. If someone was paying me by the hour to walk people through things then I would - but they’re not. Walking hopeless guests through a basic computer function is not what I’m here for.

And to be honest, I don’t care how old / young / daft / stupid they are. Being able to perform basic computer stuff is a necessary factor of life today. It’s not even a ‘skill’ - it’s just something that people ought to be able to do without anyone holding their hand.