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[Help!] Think I just got scammed

Recently signed up for VRBO and a person wrote me this message about staying with his wife and identical twins, and wanted to know my exact address to look up on Google maps for proximity to excursions. Then also asked if I had an Airbnb listing as they have been reviews there and this is his first time on the platform.

Sigh — should have seen the red flags but was eager to please and did give the address. I immediately flagged to VRBO after and they are “reviewing” the case. I am asking for the message to be removed, however they can not do this. What are my options? A bit scared for my home and guest safety moving forward.

A lot would depend on whether you ever heard from this prospective guest again. Your routine security measures should be sufficient. If you have not heard anything more from them, you could message that you have forwarded their request to VRBO thus giving any bad actor pause. There are other ways to address the legitimate question regarding location. When traveling, I like to have an address to use when I plug information in to a direction finder for planning time to and from places. You can address this concern by being more specific while still being vague if you note a specific place or intersection that your home is near.

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I never give the address, I only tell them it’s off such and such street. Maybe you might consider putting up outside cameras.

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All hosts are different. :slight_smile:

I don’t mind if guests want the address. I also let them see the exterior too if they want to. I explain that they can’t see inside the apartments because guests are in there.

It doesn’t happen very often but I’ve never had a problem with any guests who have been the view-it-first type. I tend to think that it’s a relatively normal thing for guests to do.

If I didn’t want to give the guests the address for whatever reason, I’d say something like “Oh, I’m sure I can help you much better than Google can. What sort of excursions are you thinking about? I’ve lived here for over 25 years so I can recommend some local secrets and places the locals love as well as all the other attractions… blah blah”

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It seems you think you were tricked into providing the address and now you are worried that thieves may burglarize your listing. This is one of the reasons Airbnb gives you the option to not show it and, on the surface, it’s a valid concern since a thief has photos that may show valuable items, exactly where those items are located, as well as a calendar that shows when nobody will be home.

On the other hand, if any photos of the outside of the home are provided in the listing details, it wouldn’t take more than an hour using Google street view to find the exact location of nearly any listing that is a detached single family home. Even photos of the backyard can give away the exact location to someone living local, which is likely the case for a burglar. Of course, it’s not the same for any listing in any location, but you should ask yourself whether withholding the listing address before booking really only provides you a false sense of security.

FWIW, I had a couple of guests ask for the exact address right after I started hosting. At the time, I just pointed them to Airbnb’s policy of not providing the exact address as well as to the map that shows the general location to within 1/4 mile, which is reasonable walking distance. Note that since I started hosting, Airbnb added the option to provide the exact location in the listing details.

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Ditto.

Any thief messaging on Airbnb or VRBO is extraordinary ambitious. They’ve now left a trail(even if using a fake ID there’s a credit card attached) if something happens.

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Apart from the fact that we have nothing of extreme value in the apartments and that we have good STR insurance, any thief in South Florida would be crazy to go to all that trouble to burgle our tiny apartments when there are billionaires’ homes just across the road. :slight_smile:

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She’s right.

In the future you may consider giving them the nearest cross street or a local business. For example If you are close to Taco Bell or XYZ coffee shop. They may like knowing that piece of info too.

Same here………………………….

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UPDATE: this is an on-going scam. Many others apparently have received this same message. I’m still unsure of their end game — whether orchestrate a heist or market my listing on a long term platform (Craigslist) to scam others.

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One that’s going around my area is some version of:

Can I mail you a check to pay for our stay? I would like to include an extra $2,000. Could you cash the check & mail me $1,000? My ex-husband agreed to pay for a place for our kids & me to stay. This would give me the money for us to go to amusement parks & really enjoy our vacation. You keep the extra $1,000 for your time.

Then check is totally fake.

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THIS IS THE END GAME: Here is what I think…they will use your house and your lovely new listing now to scam an unsuspecting and greedy traveler. This is how the scam works. They have hacked somebody else’s vrbo account located very nearby where your property is… ( not your account ). But another host stupidly clicked a link and gave scammers access to their listing. Now, when that other listing gets an inquiry, the scammer receives the inquiry. Then the scammer poses as a legitimate Property Manager and does a bait and switch to convince them that your place is much nicer…and the property that the unsuspecting traveler is switched to is your house…because when they make out a contract, they have a real address… you gave them your address. They will show the traveler your house on VRBO…it all appears incredibly legit. They will gain the trust of the traveler. Then they will offer a special low rate or a great deal to close the sale…and take the money via venmo or wire transfer. The traveler sends the money and has a contract now …off vrbo…for a week at your property with your address. Still looks very real. Once the traveler panics because they get no more info on arrival…only then will everyone find out this untraceable scam. The scammer is long gone and never even hacked your property so they cant be found. Let me know how this turns out someday.

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I keep asking folks and no one gives me an answer. Where is this calendar function that tells when people will be home? How about the one that indicates that a listing is booked, not blocked off?

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Of course your listing’s calendar doesn’t say when people will be home, but it doesn’t take any stretch of the imagination to conclude that for any “entire place” listing, if the calendar remains open, nobody is going to be there. It’s also trivial to determine whether a listing allows same-day bookings, or 1-, 2-, 3-day advance notices, etc.

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Nope nopity nope nope nope. I want $$. Not blocked does not mean empty. I will nip in to do maintenance. Min24 hour notice required. If I get a booking I will wrap up & head home.

South East USA so foolish to break in. I grew up in country with guns—bears, rabid bobcats, coyotes, rattle snakes. Concealed carry. Break in while I’m there will not end well for someone. Im not NRA-er & don’t advocate violence and will run first (don’t make me shoot)! Dogs will bark so hopefully everyone alerted condo occupied and situation will end. Small dogs (7 & 8 lbs) but one aggressively highly protective of me so may not cause real damage but will distract.

Have you noticed that the HLN & 20/20 shows about someone being murdered rarely say, she had two dogs? Dogs are better than cats :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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I’m happy to take a 20% commission on any helicopter flightseeing or whale watch trips I can sell! :wink:

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No, but it’s likely, and even if someone is doing cleaning or maintenance, they are less likely to be there late at night which also happens to be when burglaries are more likely to occur.

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I agree.

I’m certainly willing to be convinced that criminals targeting Airbnb owners, aside from the $$ scams, is a real problem. I just haven’t seen evidence, only anecdotes.

Maybe the concern is remote cabins?

My first year hosting (2014) I kept monitoring Craigslist because the news reported a gang breaking into part-time homes, staying for a while, selling all the furniture on Craigslist, then moving on.

They were targeting homes much nicer than mine and houses not condos.

Things like ring doorbells & outside cameras weren’t very common then.

I doubt they were checking Airbnb & VRBO calendars because some of the homes were not rentals. In the off season there are many empty homes, especially close to the ocean.

This happened years ago but nothing like it has been reported in the past few years. My ring subscription includes an area crime-watch feature.

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I have a friend who was the victim of a home invasion. The first thing they made her do was lock the dogs in another room. Then they tied her up, tied a gag around her mouth and ransacked her place.

But I do agree that thieves generally will pass on places where there are dogs.

My friend’s experience wasn’t random- she was targeted. She owns a busy restaurant and they figured she had a lot of money at home in her safe. Happened to a couple other business owners here, same perps. They did get caught.

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