Beware of scammers

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve received at least 3 inquiries for 3 month stays. They post a question, typically asking for more information. When I reply, it’s crickets for hours. Then another question, trying to reel me in, (I think). Anyway, I’m always skeptical of long term requests. After hours to days, they reply with something like, “I dont have the Airbnb app on my phone, can we communicate through What’s App?” As soon as they ask to communicate outside of the Airbnb app, I’m done and I report them. Anyone know what the scam is they’re trying to pull? Seems like it could be the same person using different aliases, since each time the story is very familiar. Another telltale is they may use a name for themselves that’s different than their Airbnb name. Be careful :face_with_monocle:


These scams have been happening for years. And I highly doubt they come from individual scammers, they come from some bot factory.

Not sure what the exact scam is if a host was foolish enough to give them personal contact info.

Stop responding to these messages. Answer the first one so you don’t get dinged for not responding, then flag their message as spam and ignore any more messages from them.


This isn’t really a big deal. (I imagine that most hosts get these inquiries). I’ve always assumed that anyone requesting contact away from Airbnb is simply someone wanting to get a bargain by booking direct and avoiding Airbnb fees. Don’t worry about it. :slight_smile:

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I have so far never gotten any of these scammer inquiries. I have gotten inquiries asking me to communicate via whatsapp, but those are as you said, just users trying to avoid paying taxes and fees. (I don’t consider those people scammers- they’re just trying it on to save some $) Those generally do that in the first inquiry message.

That’s different from the type of messages the OP got, where they bombard the host with weird questions, working up to the whatsapp request. Those have some scam involved, although I don’t know what. No doubt either scamming the host out of $ (the “My company is paying for my booking, but I can stay with my cousin, so I’ll pay but not stay, then we can split the $.” Or maybe if they get the host to communicate off-platform, they can somehow steal identities, or try to get the host to click on a malicious link.)

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I wouldnt reply at all if I knew for sure immediately that they were scams. I just had a wonderful guest stay for 2 weeks that I was skeptical about. I assume no one is a scammer until they show that they are. I’ve had many guests stay for 3 months and longer, these are my favorite guests. You just cant tell until they either ask to speak through some other format, or ask to call you. I posted this mainly as a heads-up warning to new hosts. I’ve been a host for many, and I’ve seen these before, but no where near as many as I’ve see recently.

I’ve always thought that they were just trying to get a feel of the host and whether they would be open to off-platform business. I’ve never been able to see a scam, just the Airbnb fees thing but the malicious link thing is definitely to be avoided at all costs.

Yes, from posts I’ve read on other forums, these scammer inquiries seem to come in waves. Hosts report suddenly being inundated with them, then it goes quiet for awhile, then they start up again.

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Don’t know what questions the OP got, but from other reports of these type of scammers, the questions they ask aren’t normal ones. They’ll try to engage the host in a chatty way, like “I like to read. Do you have books in your rental?”, weird stuff like that.

Also when a lot of hosts were repirting these on the Airbnb CC, they all were coming from Chinese accounts.

I got a booking from a guy who asked if I could hold three more days for him past his check-out date, as he wasn’t sure yet if he could stay that long. I knew what he was getting at and just replied that I wouldn’t “hold” dates, but if they didn’t get booked, he could certainly extend. After he arrived, and proved to be a nice guy, I told him I understood what he was getting at and let him pay me directly for three more days.

Sometimes it’s a cultural thing- some cultures embrace the attitude that it’s foolish not to try to get a “deal” and that there’s no harm in trying.

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Keep in mind that Airbnb can and will read your posts. If you agree to speak with someone on another platform (a a person who contacted you first through Airbnb), you are (I believe) breaking their rules and could be subject to being booted off of Airbnb. It’s not worth the risk to me whether they are scammers or just looking for a discount.

A couple of the questions were, “do you have fire protection” “theft protection”. Another said his assistant was out of town and would be making the reservation, but in the meanwhile, offered to speak with me on What’s App. Maybe I’m just paranoid.

No, you aren’t just paranoid. Those are weird questions that a normal guest doesn’t ask.

I would never agree to communicate off platform with a guest who has used Airbnb to contact me. Even if it weren’t against Airbnb policy, as a homeshare host I am not interested in accepting a total stranger into my home who can’t be reported to anyone if they behave badly, who I cannot review, and I dislike attempts to use Airbnb messaging to try to sneakily get around paying their service fees. They are a listing service that needs service fees to finance their site.

There is nothing wrong, however, with communicating off-platform after a booking has been paid for and confirmed. It certainly isn’t advisable for anything that could prove contentious and if a guest sends a host off-platform messages, or calls them about an issue, or to try to extort them for a good review, etc, the host should reiterate the conversation on Airbnb messaging and tell that guest to keep their communication there.

But I use whatsapp quite a bit with guests for simple arrangements that don’t have the potential to need to be documented. My guests usually send me a whatsapp msg. when they board the bus from the airport to my town, and again when they arrive, so I can go pick them up at the bus station.

And as a homeshare host, I use whatsapp sometimes to say “Hey, I’m at the supermarket- is there anything you’d like me to pick up for you?” Or “I’m in town and heading back to my place now- do you want a ride?” (My place is a 20 minute walk to town and the majority of my guests don’t have transportation here)

Airbnb’s concern as far as on or off-platform communication is basically that they don’t get stiffed out of their service fees, and that there is documentation of any he said/she said conflicts. They don’t boot hosts off the platform for whatapping guests to ask if they need groceries.

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Agreed. I often contact quests by phone AFTER they have booked, and only if I cant get a hold of them through the app.
I intentionally text them through the Airbnb app for all of the reasons you mentioned. I find the text app. Works pretty good.
Airbnb has been good for me (for the most part). I’ve been reading about other hosts that have been removed from the platform lately, and I don’t want that to happen to me.

Absolutely, and you’re right to be cautious. Good call on keeping it all in-app and reporting those red flags. Better safe than sorry!!

Yes, that’s a pretty common scam and I’m glad I was warned because I just got one last week and spotted it easily. “Stay a month…company check directly deposited to my acccount (hahaha, as IF), and communicate via WhatsApp…blabla”

They must get some hosts falling for this stuff or it wouldn’t have continued for so many years.
I’m actually amazed at the naivity of some people- hosts post this stuff on other forums asking if others think it’s a scam, when it so obviously is, you wonder why they would have to ask. (It’s good they do, but finding it “a bit odd” is an understatement.)

Like this one:

We accept direct bookings (have our own website and process credit cards through Stripe). 90% of our guests come from the US, and the rest are usually Canada or European (mostly UK). Our rental is in the Caribbean.

Last year, I was contacted through WhatsApp by someone with a number from India asking about booking our home. Red flags, right? I was nervous it would be a scam, but directed them to our website where they could book using a credit card. They did, it went through, and they arrived and had a great vacation.

The reason I share this is that not everyone that uses WhatsApp or wants to book offline or is from a country that isn’t normal for your area is a scammer.

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Whatsapp is used extensively in many countries, and by international travelers- it can be the primary form of communication.

It eliminates the need to pay for phone and texting time or long distance plans or charges, as all you need is a data/wifi connection. All the Mexicans here use whatsapp for both messaging and calling.

It’s not nearly so common in Canada and maybe the US. Half my friends in Canada didn’t even know what it was. The ones who travel internationally or have friends or family abroad they keep in touch with did, though.

Just because the Airbnb scammers try to get you to communicate with them by whatsapp before they have a confirmed booking doesn’t mean the vast majority of whatsapp users are suspicious.

The majority of my non-Mexican guests don’t have calling or SMS texting ability here without incurring roaming charges. So while they are in residence, unless we are face-to-face, I’ll whatsapp them, as they do me.

Personally a good long term guest over my slow season is a dream come true even at a discounted rate. We have had several from a month to 3 months and never a problem.

The bottom line for me is, Airbnb forbids communication outside of their app prior to booking. I’ve been warned by Airbnb that I’m subject to having my account barred should I break that rule, so Im not willing to take that chance, since 100% of my bookings come from Airbnb. Not that it matters, but I believe these inquiries have been coming from China. I’ve had several guests from China that stayed for extended periods and have been great. These recent inquiries may be legitimate, but I’ll never know.

I’m with you. If someone contacts me over AirBnB or Vrbo and asks about going off platform, I tell them that I cannot assist them in doing that, as it is against my agreement with AirBnB [Vrbo] and I risk losing our listing. I even have it on my direct website that, if someone has already inquired over Vrbo/AirBnB for specific dates, I won’t accept a direct booking from them for the same dates.

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Scammers have been preying on new hosts. We just listed on another platform and we received an inquiry for a three week stay. Guest said his boss was paying for the trip and needed an invoice and he would like to pay with a check not use the listing platform. The scam works in a couple of ways. One - you send an invoice and the guest cancels the stay but remits the invoice to his boss for the stay and his company pays the invoice to the guest. You don’t lose anything. Two - guest wants to deal off platform. They send a check for the total stay but oops it is $500 more than you asked for so the guest asks you to Venmo or Pay Pal him the overpayment. In the meantime the original cashiers check he sent you is a fake (takes the bank a few days to find this out) You are out $500. This has happened at least six times in the past year.