Dismaying Article on Vice about Airbnb scams of guests

Long but interesting and well done. I’d love to see more articles like this.


I thought it was an extremely informative piece, insofar as her research showed how these networks work, how they take advantage of both the Air platform (and guests’ unfamiliarity), and just how little Airbnb does when evidence of wrongdoing is laid at their feet.

I practically screamed at the screen when I saw she hadn’t left a review though. :woman_facepalming:
Jeeze. If each person who was scammed had left a 1* review, they wouldn’t have gotten away with it for so long.

Also, the narrative was kind of confused, but none of these guests (other than the lawyer) seem to have followed Air’s steps for refund. Hosts complain about the damage claim process, but it generally works if you read the steps and follow exactly.

Guests have to follow the same process. Tell the host, but then escalate to Airbnb. Most were letting it sit until after the stay. Obviously Air can’t support a policy where you complete your stay and then ask for a refund after the fact.

What struck me most from this article is that Air has A LOT of work to do on improving their ID process. We flat out should not be able to change our profile names after ID verification is done.


Same. She also states she didn’t really read the reviews before she booked; she only read carefully after booking.

Yes, but I think it’s important to not shift the blame to much to the victim here. caveat emptor and all that but… Airbnb isn’t doing crap even when they are presented with good evidence. I’d really like to know how a legit and competent host like Rolf on this forum gets his listings suspended for unknown reasons and these scammers go on for years despite multiple complaints.

Because I’m so picky when choosing an Airbnb (superhosts, lots of reviews, avoiding hosts with multi listings) and I read everything, I’m sure I could avoid being scammed. But for the millions of folks who want to use an app to quickly find a place to stay, Airbnb needs to improve.


I agree.

Scammers like this take advantage of social engineering. You need to stay somewhere, so you take the alternate place. You still hope to be in the originally booked place, so you don’t want to complain too much and have them cancel altogether. You asked for it in writing, but they didn’t do that…


This and the fact that the “move to another unit” conversations happened off the Air messenger platform and on a cell phone. I’m the paranoid type, so I make sure that all conversations are then reiterated in a follow up email or message. Because I want proof of what was said and covered.

I feel for the guests - this gives the rest of us a black eye. I also feel for the host in San Diego whose house was trashed by partying kids last weekend and 8 (eight!) police cars showed up to break up the shenanigans. Those guests ruin it for the rest of us who are running respectable businesses and trying to get to SH status so @KKC will book with us on her travels! :wink:


LOL. I’d book with 90% of the forum members even if they weren’t superhosts. Actually looking back at my bookings, out of 13 on the record (booked on Airbnb) stays, only 11 were with superhosts. And as Piton View mentioned, there are some legit reasons to not be a SH.


true, The platform says I should get that special badge in January, now that the recent 5* reviews have compensated for the “nice words, lousy stars” reviews left by bad guests . Now to change out some of my photos.

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Except that sometimes Air does refund guests after completing their stay. (Oh no I saw an ant, etc)

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To hear hosts tell it, Airbnb is outrageously biased towards guests. To hear guests tell it, Airbnb is outrageously biased towards hosts. And if this writer hadn’t been personally victimized this article never would have been written and this particular scammer would have continued on. As that supposed Airbnb Insider said this summer, 94% of stays don’t have any issue. That’s 94% of stays that aren’t worthy of a blog post, an article, a forum post or a YouTube video.


So, with over 500,000 stays hosted every day worldwide, does that mean there are 20,000 stays every single day (7.3 million per year) that are worthy?


Very interesting read, thanks for posting. There were some posts on the Community Forum about a group in Canada (?) doing the same kind of thing. They were taken down by the mods. I’m confused why Air don’t act more thoroughly on these things, it’s SUCH bad publicity.

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No, based on some assumptions.

First, that 6% included all calls. Calls/emails from that newbie host that’s calling about the guest who didn’t reply to their message; the host who wants Airbnb to call the guest and tell them they need a check in time; the guest who can’t figure out how to upload their ID, etc.

Second I don’t know what the 500,000 stays is based on. Is that unique visitors or numbers of days? In other words, how to count one call about a multiple day stay or multiple calls about a one day stay.

Nevertheless, I’m sure Airbnb is fielding 10s of thousands of calls 24/7 every day.

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We’ve discussed scams and the pitfalls for people who communicate off platform. I hate it for those scammed and for those of us who try to conduct an honorable business.

Sadly the articles about scammer hosts and scammer guests educate the next round of scammers about what they can do.

This summer one of my guests conducted herself as if she had read all the “ how I stayed free at an Airbnb” articles and thank goodness for the information presented on this website, I was able to do things correctly and did not suffer a large refund!!!


I thought one of the most interesting things was the last few sentences, where she said that no one she talked to would stop using AirBNB, including her. After that experience, I think I’d be running for the hills!

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That is interesting. It’s because they are the market leader and no one (yet) comes close to offering what they do, at least not in the US. And think about how many people have been screwed over by the airlines but people still fly, usually even on the carrier they said they would never fly on again! LOL.

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Wow, very interesting article. We have a FT renter in WV who spends 3 nights a week, every week, in DC. He rents an Airbnb unit each week.

Monday night he arrived to a disgusting, uncleaned home. He messaged the hosts repeatedly for 45 minutes with no response. He was desperately searching for an available hotel when his wife called us. My husband was home and invited him to stay at our home. The next morning I asked how AIrbnb handled it and he said that he hadn’t called them yet!!

I was flabbergasted and told him to call right away. He did and Airbnb wanted to know why he hadn’t called the night before and wanted to know if he had photos. He hadn’t taken any photos and told me they treated him like a “2nd class citizen” who was trying to scam the host. I was in shock! He’s a known guest with a stellar 5 star rating at 19 other stays since June.

They finally refunded his money, but not until he got aggressive with Airbnb. He told me that he had no idea what to do when it happened and the hosts weren’t responding. He just wanted to get the hell out of there.

Needless to say, he’s not feeling warm and fuzzy about Airbnb right now. At least he now knows what do do if there is another problem.

As a host, we take about 40 photos after the house is cleaned. They are stored in a Dropbox account by my cleaners for reference if we ever need them.

As a guest I photograph the place when we check in and when we check out.

I’ll be interested to see how the review process works in his situation.

I shoot a quick video of the house on my smartphone once the house is clean and ready. I hope it would work both as proof that the house was clean and as proof of the contents in case anything was damaged or stolen.

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I would really like to see the kinds of places where this happens. I suppose it could happen to anyone but I’m picturing those remotely or corporately hosted places with 4.5 averages. And not hosted by a superhost.

That’s disappointing and it only makes me more skeptical of hosts who claim they did nothing wrong and that Airbnb is completely biased in favor of the guest. However, obviously Airbnb can’t just take a guest’s word for it, they need pictures.

I am the victim. My “guest” stayed three nights without paying saying Airbnb would pay me. She never advised Airbnb that she was returning to my apartment. She also she stole 7.5 liters of mineral water from me. I told Airbnb all this but they are only concerned with putting me on the black list cause she said I screamed at her. My cleaning woman was a witness that is a lie. Airbnb does not take into account my side of the story.
To be fair, at this point I feel justified if I scream at Airbnb for not defending me as a faithful and diligent member for over 7 years.

I don’t know how this happens. I thought you rented a room in your home, how did she get in?

Is this the same case you’ve posted about for several months. The guest who got you removed from Airbnb back in the spring?