Questionable "Refugee" Message

Head’s up in case this becomes a trend. There is no way to check if this is a scam so I assume it is.

Received an inquiry “We are a family in Ukraine,” asking for a no-show listing to provided monetary support. Additional red flag is that the listing is in Poland. I see a couple prior reviews indicating that there are prior donors who have booked.

I’ve done this in the past with long-term listed hosts that I’ve chosen, but I’m not touching this one. I’ve not yet reported it to Airbnb as it is conceivable that they are not crooks.

I keep getting dinged to respond to the inquiry by Airbnb, so I wrote back “What was your address in Ukraine and what date did you emigrate to the other country?” Of course anyone can make up an answer but not bothering to answer would be a further indicator.

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Yes, could be a total scam, but also word travelled fast that there was a movement for hosts to support other hosts, and Ukrainians started throwing up listings in order to receive donations, (which were blocked by Airbnb), not understanding that it was a movement to help out established hosts who had lost their livelihood. I actually felt sorry for them because I’m sure that many of them were not scammers at all, and really did need money, even if they weren’t really hosts.

For sure, I wouldn’t book a place as a way to donate if I got an inquiry asking me to. The way that movement started out, no Ukrainian hosts were actively soliciting donation bookings, hosts in other countries just looked for an established Ukrainian host and it was a heartwarming surprise for those host recipients to suddenly find other hosts around the world being sympathetic and supportive.

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I suspect that Airbnb blocked the new listings because most hosts donating were using their superhost vouchers. I don’t think it was because Airbnb suspected that they were scammers. I think it’s because it was hurting stockholder’s dividends.

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Sorry I don’t agree - it’s irrelevant to Airbnb whether you use Your SH voucher on a Ukraine host or elsewhere @Ritz3

Airbnb rightly didn’t want scammers setting up listings to capitalise on the goodwill of hosts and guests donating accommodation.

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I really don’t know which was Airbnb’s motivation, but the whole point of giving vouchers and credits, rather than cash rewards or refunds, as far as most companies are concerned, is that a lot of those vouchers never get used before they expire, so the company comes out financially ahead. I earned about 3 or 4 Superhost vouchers over the years that I never used. That’s $400 that Airbnb didn’t have to pay out. And I imagine that many hosts don’t end up using their vouchers, so that would add up to tens of thousands of dollars, I would guess. If a thousand hosts and guests used vouchers and credits to help out the Ukrainian hosts, I would be willing to bet that Airbnb saw many more vouchers being cashed out than they normally do.
So I don’t think that Ritz’s take is necessarily a reach.

It was actually foolish of me not use those vouchers. I didn’t because the only place I really have interest in travelling to these days is my summer trip to Canada, to visit my daughters and friends, and I stay with them, I don’t need to book anything. But I could have used them even for a one night stay in my own town, for a place with a pool, which I don’t have, and just lounged around having a break from my daily chores. Or I could have fake-booked with a host friend who needed the money in their off-season when they had dates that wouldn’t likely get booked anyway.

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I agree with you, many hosts don’t use their vouchers. I have only used one voucher in my five years hosting and that was to book a non stay with a Ukrainian host.

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I can’t see why anyone wouldn’t use their vouchers we’ve had great fun identifying areas within an hours drive to visit for the weekend .

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Unfortunately, life gets in the way with travel plans and vouchers expire : (

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As Ritz said, life gets in the way. I really can’t go anywhere in the high season here, because that’s when I have my Airbnb bookings, and also it is the busiest time of year for me in my upholstery business. And in the summer, I go to Canada for a month and a half, where I stay with my daughters and my friends.

But I am determined to use any I get in the future. As you say, even for a 24 hour get-away close to home.

Some hosts don’t even realize they expire. One host post I read recently was asking where to find all the Superhost vouchers they had been issued, that they had 4 “saved up” and wanted to use them to book a nice place. Someone else broke the news to them that you can’t save them up- they would only have one at any given time to use. (except for the overlap that happened last year for some hosts when they extended the expiry date on them, due to Covid, so some hosts ended up with 2 they could use)

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I heard about this - how some people are booking stays in Ukraine as a way to donate/ support hosts there. I’d like to do this, but I’m concerned that you were cold called, if I understand correctly? I don’t know any other hosts who have been contacted, and I wondered if this could be connected to the fact that you’d donated in the past? Is there any way, do you think, that this potential host could have known that?

I would imagine that person sent out those messages to many hosts, not targeted the OP specifically.

I agree the putative Ukrainian resident probably sent numerous blind inquiries, although I don’t discount news of contributors traveling through the grapevine.

I am sticking to sending support bookings only to long term Ukrainian STR hosts and Experience hosts I had researched and identified myself back in February when this whole mess started.

I like funneling money to Experience hosts because I can book multiple times for short sessions without shutting out other contributors, and/or increase the amounts via Resolution Center.

I booked with one eastern Ukraine host who was sheltering sequential refugees from the west, and they asked me to change my reservation to one day so I didn’t block their calendar and shut out the actual refugees from booking. It was the only way they could figure to manage contribution bookings and refugee assistance concurrently. I used the Resolution Center to send extra.

My targeted hosts could also be diverting funds for their own enrichment but nothing is certain in life and I am willing to take that risk. That’s one reason I support-booked with several different hosts.

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Prior to this year i never used my Superhost voucher - this year i booked a no stay in Kharkiv Ukraine. I picked a host who had been hosting for several years to try to ensure the money went to a genuine host. At the time quite a few people were booking no stays but this seems to have dried up - I am sure the need for help remains so please help if you can. Assuming i remain a superhost next year i will donate again to a Ukrainian host.

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I just received my superhost voucher and plan on booking another non stay in Ukraine. I agee with you, they still need help. Only God knows how long the war will last : (