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Does this sound like a scam?


Hi everyone,
I’m in Ecuador right now and at one of my two Airbnbs a guest checked in about 36 hours ago. There is an interior door to the condo that separates the foyer from the rest of the condo. It’s there to keep the heat in. I forgot that there was a bedroom type lock on it, the kind that can be turned to lock and lock the door once it is closed. It’s a new condo–for me–and I don’t have a key for it.

I got an “emergency” message from him this afternoon, telling me he’d locked the door by accident. I tried messaging and texting and for about 2 hours he was incommunicado. Then, when he did finally answer, he sounded a bit high-handed (I’d been sending messages asking him to please contact me and asked why he wasn’t answering.) He said he had tools in his car, but that when he tried to remove the doorknob, he couldn’t. I told him that the only solution was to call a locksmith.

So I went online and sent him a number. However, he messaged me back and said that he’d “called a local one.” This is weird 'cause it’s Boxing Day, right? And if you go onto google, the first one up is the one whose number I sent.

Anyway, he messaged me back and said he was in the condo, but that he’d paid in cash because he could avoid taxes. Avoiding taxes also means, of course, no receipt. (I’d offered to reimburse him since I didn’t have a key). The amount came out to exactly what Airbnb would allow me to refund him–almost exactly what he’d paid. (Emergency locksmiths are expensive in my city.)

Because of all the kerfuffle, I sent the amount of refund, but right afterwards, asked him for the name or phone number of the locksmith. I’ve asked three times and he’s ignored the question, said he was going out to dinner and would do it later, and finally, when I insisted, said his GF had used his phone to make dinner reservations and there were so many numbers on his phone, he didn’t know which number was which, but that he would google them tomorrow.

I am suspicious, even though it sounds like a probable scenario. So I went back to the resolution center refund I’d offered and checked. He hadn’t cashed it in yet, so I changed the amount to $5 instead of the total amount. I sent a message to him–through the resolution centre–that once I verified that he’d actually paid, I would refund the total. I just said that despite the Airbnb system being safe and secure, I was concerned about a scam and really needed to have verification.

I’m out of town, this emergency situation has upset my day, and now he’s acting like he has all the time in the world to give me the information. I’m a bit upset–perhaps wrongly–but I thought I’d put this out there for feedback. I need to get back to my holiday.


That sounds awful - so sorry -

I’m always suspicious of anyone who would ‘pay cash to avoid taxes’ especially since that’s your business.


I’m tempted to put my two listings on snooze (the other one is booked well in advance) and to tell him I’m going to be unreachable by internet for the next 48 hours and that I will deal with the situation when I’m back online. i just hate it when people message me with some emergency and then disappear. By the time he answered, I was very worried. And, of course, I was feeling concerned enough that I offered the refund (dumb, that!).


The key thing sounds legitimate and probably did happen as was told to you. I would also be bugged by the lack of communication. Don’t feel bad about not offering to refund. No receipt? No refund. And I would maybe get that door fixed so it won’t lock like that too easily. This is one of the problems when an owner can’t be right on site. I’m leaving for nine days in January and would just rather not have someone here. If the Internet goes out, no one to reset. If water runs out, no one to call a water truck…

sometimes my guests cannot text because they have international numbers and they aren’t near wi-fi. But he really should have contacted you by now.

Yes, it’s tempting to want to make money while you are out but sometimes it’s just better to have a stress-free holiday and block it off from bookings.


I’m normally on site, but this is a new listing and so didn’t want to lose any time since the bookings have been sparse. And it’s only a 3 day listing in my vacation, which is 14 days. I did block off the rest of the time when I could see that no one was booking and I was about to leave.

I could self-recriminate until the cows come home, but that isn’t going to help.

He did send me a contact number for the locksmith, but then said that they didn’t do anything beyond asking his name. (Earlier he said they took a photo of his ID.) I’ve sent off an email to the company, asking if they serviced the address, but if they didn’t give a receipt, they may be hesitant to admit they did the work.

My tendency is to believe that it happened, but am wondering if the amount he paid is what was actually charged.


Nevermind, the locksmith verified it. I will definitely get that door fixed. I am still going to snooze my account. I need to relax!


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Just write off the money for the stay in your mind, and move on to the next one!
Don’t even push about locksmith details since you’ve already sent the money and it will be difficult for you to second guess his story!
You win some you lose some. As it’s a new place for you, at least you now know to sort out the lock issues on that inner door!


Oh, I thought I made it clear that that’s exactly what I have done.

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