Rental Scam! Red Flags and How to Avoid.


Rental Scam! Red Flags and How to Avoid.

*The reason why I started a new coversation regarding rental scams is because "the owner" I contacted sounded legit and seemed to know Airbnb long-term rental rules. Different from other scamming stories I read online, he did not ask me to transfer money outside of Airbnb (at least not yet). Instead, he indicated that everything, including the payment and the rental contract, will go through Airbnb. However, he still raised lots of red flags (details down below). After contacting Airbnb Customer Support, they confirmed that the emails were sent by an unauthorized party.*

*From what I know and hear, Airbnb DOES NOT have local agents to help handling the rental matters.*

*Check the website URLs. Should be under "". Otherwise are fake.*
*If you are in doubt, contact Airbnb Customer Support before taking any actions (including clicking links in the emails if any).*  


For the past few weeks, I have been searching for an apartment to rent in Miami. I found this too-good-to-be-true listing on both rental website (Zumper) and advertisement on Facebook Marketplace. For those who don't have much idea about Miami rental price: normally a 1 bed/1 bath apartment cost around $1,200+ just the place itself. This listing offers $1,000 only for a 2bed/2bath townhouse including all utilities (water, electricity, internet etc.). Out of curiosity, I made contact through Facebook message. It was later on directed to Zumper for "the owner" to contact me via email. At first he sounded cool (tho explained a little too much), but soon rasied lots of red flags once he mentioned Airbnb. 


  1. No listing post available on Airbnb site.
  2. Described Airbnb as "the biggest international website dealing specifically in rental properties." 
  3. Ask for information in order to "provide Airbnb with your details."
    (Never heard hosts booking for renters on Airbnb. Should be the other way round!)
  4. Only allows potential tenants to check on the property after paying full amount deposit (in my case $1,000).
    (Mentioned refund but do not trust them! Why don't you allow people to book one day stay with a discounted price (or even in full) to check on the property?) 
  5. "The property looks like in the pictures."

Other detials I found weird:

- Almost exact wording as other Airbnb scams people shared online. "If you decide to proceed with this transaction, ..."

- Keep mentioning Madrid/Spain. Okay, I get it. You live in Madrid/Spain. 

- Interesting timing. He sent me emails at 6:58pm, 10:05pm, and 10:43am EST. I did a little math, it should be 12:58am, 4:05am, and 4:43pm Madrid/Spain time. Sounded like a hardworking person who is very eager to rent out his property in Miami/USA.


Following are the emails:

My name is Miguel Rufino Garcia and I am the owner of the property I am happy to let you know that it is still available for long or short term rental. I bought this property for my daughter during her studies in the US, but now she is back home in Spain, so I'm renting the place for unlimited time (obviously preferable for long periods).
The property looks like in the pictures. The utilities (cold/hot water, electricity, wireless broadband Internet, digital TV, 1 parking spot, dishwasher, garbage disposal, microwave, refrigerator, washing machine, etc.) are INCLUDED in the price of $1,000 per month. One month deposit of $1,000 is also requested and fully refundable once you decide to leave the apartment (with a 30 days notice before). As from my side, I will never ask you to leave the apartment because my daughter is permanently living here in Madrid/Spain, so we won't disturb you.
Before we proceed I would like to know a little something about you, like how many persons you intend to live in the property, and for how long.
All the best from Spain,

Hi again,
Everything sounds good, but as I said, I live in Madrid/Spain and unfortunately i cant be present to deal in person. I can arrange to rent the apartment from Spain through AIRBNB, which is the biggest international website dealing specifically in rentals properties.
I hope you are familiar with Airbnb, but if not i'll explain you how it works..
If you decide to proceed with this transaction, I will need your phone number along with your full name, the date when you want to enter in the apartment, how many people would live there and for how long.. Then I will start the process through Airbnb here in Spain, providing them with your details. Next you will receive a notification message with all the instructions that you need to follow in order to complete the process and receive the keys with the rental contract.
This is the only way i can proceed, so hopefully you will find it ok in order to secure the apt in your favor...
Let me know,

Hello again,
At this moment i dont have it listed on Airbnb, but if you are interested, Airbnb will send you a notification and you can see the listing with pictures and description on Airbnb website. Also on the notification, you will receive the steps on how you need to proceed in order to book the apartment. Everything will be thru them, including the payment and sign of the rental contract. Once you confirm the booking with Airbnb, an agent from them will show you the apartment. However, they will ask you to pay them the security deposit in amount of $1,000 before that. They will hold your funds and they wont release anything to me until you have checked the apartment, you decide to rent it and we sign the rental contract. At any time, you can request for a refund if you are not happy with the apartment.
Please send me your full name, phone number, the date when you want to enter in the apartment, how many people would live there and for how long.
Looking forward to receive your email.

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Level 2
San Luis Obispo, CA

I am in the back & forth email process with one right now…slightly different flavor, but posting here for visibility. I wanted to see what “Ella” would say. The too good to be true parts: 2bed/2bath, renovated (stock photos taken from the buildings website), all utilities, parking, furnished or unfurnished—you choose—in BEVERLY HILLS all for $900/month. Best joke I’ve heard in a WHILE!! 

Watch out folks!! 

“You can rent it for 12 months with the option to extend it.
Let me start by introducing myself. My name is Ella Fischer and I'm the owner of this apartment. My father bought this place for me during my studies in the United States, but now I'm back home ( Munich, Germany) permanently, so I'm renting the place for an unlimited time.  
I'm already with my family in Germany and I'm interested in renting my apartment through Airbnb for a long term ( you can rent the apartment from 1 to 36 months ) .
This is a 2 bedroom with 2 bathrooms pet friendly apartment. It's fully furnished and it was recently renovated . You  can rent the apartment furnished or unfurnished .
The  address of the apartment  is: 8500 Burton WayLos Angeles, CA 90048.
The rental price  is $900.00/ month which covers all the utilities, such as cold / hot water, electricity, wireless broadband Internet, digital TV,gas, garbage, parking.  
The rent will be paid month by month. This price is for the entire apt, you will not share it with anybody else. Also there is a  security deposit of $900.00. You will receive this money back on the same day when you leave the apartment.
The  total  move in cost is $1,800.00.
If interested I will explain how you can rent my apartment through Airbnb very fast and safe.

Thank you
Ella Fischer”

Hi @Charlotte285 !
I am well unexperienced with Airbnb and I want just VERY MUCH THANK you for such detailed explanations. I also recognised the -to-goog-to-be-true-price as a red flag, and all your mentions seem to be very my case.
I am currently searching appartment in Eindhoven, NL and it seems like everything you mentions happens here! Thank you for your posting! You are my saviour!

Level 1
Wichita, KS

I was also almost scammed in Chicago, IL. I was interested in two rental properties that I found via facebook marketplace from two seemingly different people. But then I got the same email with only the names changed. So for everyone's safety, I wanted to share the newest scam email format...


"Hi there,

My name is ____, 37 years old and I work in the Army. The property is available indefinitely, so you can stay as long as you want. It is quiet, has all the facilities: TV, parking, laundry, air conditioning, high speed internet and much more. It is ideally situated for the varied amenities and transport links, schools, cafes, gyms and other facilities. The pets are allowed.
It's a 1 bedroom and 1 bathroom apartment. I rent the whole property for $800 monthly (all utilities included).
The property is fully furnished, equipped with all the necessary appliances.
The property can also be rented unfurnished in case you have your own furniture.
I'm interested in renting through Airbnb. If you are interested please let me know so I can explain how you can rent my apartment through Airbnb.

Best Regards"


On facebook marketplace, the person who responded to me said they were the "nephew" of the person and to email them directly. Then all of a sudden the listing disappeared. Beware of the scammers!!!

I got a very similar message regarding an apartment in Lisbon from a woman called Lorena de Freitas Domingos. The offer seemed strange so I did some research and ended up here. However, she didn't ask me to transfer any money outside of Airbnb yet, so I wonder where the scam is in that case. Maybe if I would move on with the rental process, the "agent" would ask me to transfer money to a bank account.

Level 1
Albany, OR

Wow.. I'm so glad I did my research! This just happened to me! I definitely did not move forward. This is the email I received:



Thank you for your interest in my apartment, it is still available. I
will try to give you as many details as I can regarding the apartment
in the following email.

The full address of the apartment is 700 NE 63rd St, Miami, FL 33138.
Everything is just like in the pictures, fully equipped with
all the appliances you need, very clean and well kept. The apartment
can be rented furnished or if you want you can use your furniture and
deposit mine in the storage unit. I work as an civil engineer and the
company I work for has developed projects all around the world. Now, I
have received a very good offer from them to move to the United
Kingdom department, an offer that I have accepted.

The apartment is vacant so you can move-in anytime you want, also my
contract in the UK is for the next 6 years, so for this period, I will not
return 100%.

The rent of 800$/month is for the whole apartment and includes all
the utilities: heat, water, electricity, parking, laundry in-suite,
washer and dryer also included, cable and internet. You will have full
access to all building amenities. Just in case repairs are needed
there, I will cover the costs, so no worries. The price I'm asking is
below the market because I want to find a responsible tenant to take
good care of the place.

I'm the owner of the apartment, it's already paid in full and there is
no mortgage on it. You have everything you need near-by (public
transportation, schools, groceries etc.). Also I love pets, so if you
have any pets, I won't have any problem, pets are allowed. Honestly
from my point of view I'm sure that You'll love it for sure and rent it
on the spot.

Few questions:
 - I would like to know how many people will live in the apartment?
 - Any pets?
 - How long do you intend to rent the apartment for?

Please let me know if you are really interested in the place so we can
discuss further.

Thank you and look forward to hearing from you!

PS: I attached all the pictures that I have with the apartment (as
you can see everything is in absolutely perfect condition).
PS 2: Also, I have attached a few pictures with me, so you can put
a face to the name.





This same thing happened to me this morning with someone named "Ana Maria," living in Spain, renting out a place in lower manhattan for $1200, everything included. It seemed too good to be true but everything seemed to check out. I found it a little weird that she had to send me an Airbnb link and the listing wasn't found on the actual site. The biggest red flag was the request/demand to have me pay her $2600 through bitcoin. Very strange. I decided to give airbnb customer service a call just to inform them and make sure this listing was no way associated with them. And alas, it was not. Please, if anyone sees a listing for 333 Rector Pl for anything that sounds similar, AVOID AT ALL COSTS!

Level 1
Reading, United Kingdom

I almost got scammed!! your post helped me!!

Level 2
Dublin, Ireland

Got this message from an Email enquiry about renting an apartment in Dublin from 



I just read your e-mail regarding my apartment located in  18 Pembroke
Square, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4 .
I am the owner of the apartment. I bought the apartment while working in
Ireland but now we have moved to Spain.
The apartment has 1 bedroom, living room, 1 bathroom,  kitchen and
parking place. Is available for long-term, it's in excellent condition,
very clean and fully furnished with all the necessary equipment and
The rent is €1000 per month (bills are included). A security deposit of
€1000 is required at the start of the lease and it will be refunded at
the end of the contract (a 30 day notice is required).
Now, a little bit about myself so we can get to know each other better.
My name is Margaret Harrison and I'm a 58 years old structural engineer
and I work for MWH Global Engineering. I worked hard to have a good
career and I really respect hard earned money. The company I work for
they have projects all around the world so most of my time I'm traveling.
I have a lovely husband, Jorge and a 25 year old daughter, Irene. I am
very proud to say that soon I'm going to be a grandmother .

I would like to know something about you, for example, your occupation,
financial situation, monthly income for people who will live in the
apartment, how many people will have to live at home and for how long do
you plan to stay?

I hope you got a good first impression, and please if you have any more
questions don't hesitate to ask.

Thank you and I look forward to hearing back from you.


I did respond by asking a few more questions and received this reply (Not answering any of my questions). 



Thank you for your quick reply.
At this moment I'm in Spain and can not be present to deal face to face. This won't affect you at all. I can make arrangements to rent the apartment through Airbnb( ) which is an international company dealing specifically in rentals apartments, I used it in the past and I was very pleased for their services. The reason I use Airbnb is because they are one of the most biggest rental company around the world and I really trust them. I believe that you know Airbnb. Using Airbnb  involves three parties: me as owner, you as a potential tenant and Airbnb as a responsible third party authorized to proper conduct the transaction. Using Airbnb you can see the apartment before you sign the rental contract, so you can choose if you want to rent it or not.  You will make the payment for the first month of rent plus security deposit using Airbnb payment platform. I will open a reservation on the Airbnb website and indicate you as my potential tenant. I would like to explain you all the steps of the transaction. You need to make the payment to Airbnb for the first month of rent plus security deposit. After you make the payment to Airbnb,an inspection time will be settled and you will receive the keys and rental contract in 3 days so you can inspect the apartment. You will be given a 3 days inspection period from the day you receive the keys and contract that you will only sign after you check the apartment.The first month of rent plus security deposit that you have to pay in advance is 100 % refundable if you do not agree with the apartment. After you’ll receive the keys and contract, you check the apartment and decide if you want to rent it or not. After the inspection you will contact Airbnb and tell your decision: take the apartment or not ! If you don't take the apartment they will refund your payment. Airbnb requests payment in advance to be sure that the client really has the intention of renting the property. This is the Airbnb policy. Please let me know if you accept Airbnb and provide me with the following details for your referencing application so that I can register the transaction with Airbnb and move forward:
Your phone number
Full name and address
Scan or photo of ID.

Kind Regards,


Just posting here to increase awareness as I have personally never come across this before!






Level 10
Bilthoven, Netherlands

@Connor124 This happens a lot, but thank you for sharing

Level 1
Waldenburg, Germany

I just had a similar case:


- I found the offer on facebook marketplace (from another person like the owner, apparently his daughter- she gave me his mailadress)

-the owner asked for my full name and phone number via mail

-he asked me to transfer the rent including deposit. He rejected to show me the place before having me transferred the money via airbnb

-he said a LOCAL AGENT will show me the property after airbnb received my money


How I found out that it is a scam:

- I found this article and was alarmed especially because of the LOCAL AGENT which airbnb doesn´t have

- the airbnb website he send me was named airbnb-rooms with a number before  .com 

- it was not possible to click on his airbnb profile or send him messages via airbnb.


If you are unsure, call airbnb and ask if this person and this offer exists !!!! 

Level 2
New York, NY

Got this message, same, Spain- Madrid. first I reached out on Facebook market for an apartment ad, which was cheap for the way it appeared on pictures and for its location. 

Here is the message:


Thanks for your interest in renting my apartment, I'm flexible in renting  3- to 36-month lease. Only a long term contract.
It's a one bedroom with one bathroom apartment, here you can see some pictures:
Apartment address: 244 Franklin Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11205

The apartment comes fully furnished ( you can rent is also unfurnished ) and with all the necessary amenities, exactly as you can see in the pictures, with dishwasher, washing machine, air conditioning, TV and internet. The pets are accepted. Also, it's a private parking space available for free.

The rental price per month is $1,100.00, security deposit is $900.00 so the total cost to move in is $2,000.00.
Utilities are included in the rent, you will not pay anything else.

My name is Yara Van Bommel and I'm originally from Amsterdam, Netherlands. I have worked in the United States for three years and I bought the apartment during my stay there. I'm the owner of it. Now, I have moved with my work in Madrid, Spain for at least 4 years and I'm interested in renting through Airbnb. I'm looking for a serious and responsible person to care, keep the house clean and see it as his own home. It would be great if you can send me some personal information about you (age, employment, lifestyle, etc)?
If you are interested please let me know so I can explain how you can rent my apartment through Airbnb.

Best wishes

Then "she" reiterated that she is leaving to Madrid and she's the owner of the apartment. Asked for basic contact info. 

Sent me a suspicious link, where it looked identical to Airbnb, but I couldn't go to the main page or login. And the map looked ridiculous - not the usual map on airbnb. I decided to check the address and apartment on Streeteasy - it was rented in 2020 and the photos are exactly the same :))))))) Then she messaged me on whatsapp, so I sent her this question: 

Hi Yara, I went to the link, it's weird I can't log in to my account and the website URL isn't which is the one that would be there. 

Also the photos look the same as in
and that apartment was rented in 2020. Are you sure you are giving me the correct link?
(please don't reserve anything through this link, it's for sure a scam and i included it for educational purposes, attaching some screenshots)original_69d1453d-18cd-4388-b08a-d20cd2557527_Screenshot_20211105-115623.png
And after that deleted her whatsapp profile :))))))
Screenshot 2021-11-05 at 13.28.23.pngScreenshot 2021-11-05 at 13.28.38.pngScreenshot 2021-11-05 at 13.28.51.png
Especially liked the "we are here" and the "customer support"

So please!!! don't do it
Hope this helps someone

E50B893B-E676-4F13-A16F-2CEB329CF7BE.pngTy. She sent me the same sh*t. 

Level 1
Plymouth, United Kingdom

Same guy, same stories today, and I trusted for a second, so I have shared my passport with him. 

Probably, he will send my passport to following people to scam them.  Be careful, if you see someone with name: Mehmet and having a passport, he is fraud because the passport is belong to me and it is stolen now! Their contact email is this: 

I have fallen prey today. I have shared my passport and other details such as address, phone number etc. So pathetic.


I found the ad on Facebook marketplace. Contacted for further details on email id given in the post. The name displayed is Amy Maria Sweet. 


Please be careful if anyone contacts with name Subramanya and show you a passport then it is fake. It is not me!!

Level 2
El Paso, TX

Hello just to share my experience with you all, beware of these type of scams. This scammer emailed me and made it seem like everything was legitimate, However after researching on scams since I had red flags I was able to find this on Airbnb. If its too good to be true always do some research first and do not fall for these types of scams.

This is the email that I received that raised many red flags and made me dig a little deeper as far if its legit or not:


Hi again,

I will do my best to be as transparent as possible during the whole transaction. To build up confidence and gain peace of mind, I have attached a copy of my PASSPORT to this email. Also, please know that you will receive official documents from Airbnb also, before depositing them.


Regarding the process, you will have to deposit the first-month rent + last month's rent, a total of 2000$ (1000+1000), to Airbnb so that they can proceed with the shipping of the rental package (keys and documentation). Please note that Airbnb will HOLD your deposit (escrow) until you receive the rental package (keys and documents) and go and inspect the apartment. Please know that I will pay for all the fees that Airbnb will take. (transaction and shipping fees).


Below I will explain step by step how the transaction with Airbnb works. To avoid any misunderstanding, please READ CAREFULLY THE FOLLOWING STEPS:


1 - To start the process, all I need is your contact information: full name, mailing address (street, number, city, and postal code), cell phone number, a move-in date, and lease agreement preferred (e.g., 6 months or 1-year rental contract with the option of renewal). The lease agreement will be a standard one.

2 - Once I have your contact information and your approval, I will go to the Airbnb office (UK) to start the transaction. I will give them the apartment keys and necessary documents.

3 - Airbnb will check everything, including the ownership documents. If everything is in order, they will proceed with the transaction. They will also confirm that I'm the legal owner of the apartment I'm renting to you.

4 - Airbnb will send you a notification (via email) where they will inform you that the keys and the documents are in their custody. They will also send you all the steps, how to proceed, and all the transaction details.

5 - At this point, you need to send the amount of 2000$(1st-month rent + last month rent) to the Airbnb payments representative (lawyer escrow account) provided to you in the notification. THE PAYMENT NEEDS TO BE SENT WITHIN 24 BUSINESS HOURS AFTER YOU WILL RECEIVE THE TRANSACTION DETAILS, OR ELSE THEY WILL CHARGE ME AN ADDITIONAL FEE.

6 - As soon as the payment is completed, you need to send the payment details to Airbnb. (a copy of the receipt proving that you sent them the deposit).

7 - Airbnb will verify the payment. If everything is in order, they will start shipping procedures using UPS Next Day Shipping Service.

8 - You will receive the package (keys and documents), and you will have 5 business days (inspection time) to check the place and decide if you want to rent it.

9 - If you decide to rent the apartment, you need to sign the lease agreement that Airbnb sends, email it to them, and they will release the funds to me. If, after the 5 days inspection, you decide not to rent the apartment, Airbnb will refund the whole deposit.



  •   Airbnb insures your deposit, and this means that if you do not sign the lease agreement for any reason, Airbnb will refund you the whole deposit, so you are 100% protected.
  •  They CANNOT release the funds without your approval, and they can do it ONLY after you send them the lease agreement with your signature. (after the 5 days inspection period).
  •  Airbnb will send you official documents (invoice, rental agreement, and insurance document) BEFORE sending the deposit to them.


From my perspective, everything is safe, and the reward for going forward with this process is significant. Also, because it's a SELF-SHOWING process, I find it usual (common sense) that you need to make the deposit first, as a guarantee. I hope you share my opinion because I cannot modify the transaction terms in any way, so PLEASE READ CAREFULLY ALL THE TRANSACTION STEPS.


Let me know if you have the funds available (2000$) so we can move forward. If you have the funds available and agree with the transaction steps, please email me your full information (full name and address, and cell number) to get the transaction started.


If you have any further questions regarding the transaction, please let me know.


I am waiting for your reply!







He even went to the extremes and sent me a pic of his "passport" to make me gain trust.


** [image removed] 


Level 1
England, United Kingdom

I think I just found one in Germany. Furnished, price too good to be true, similar message about the process via Airbnb and the escrow account. He even sent a photo of himself and his driving license,  but I am still sure it's not genuine...glad I searched for Airbnb long term rentals and found this thread...

Level 2
El Paso, TX

Do not trust, it is not genuine at all. They are trying to scam. We just went through the same thing. It is sad that there is people like this out there. 

Level 1
Hong Kong

1831A600-8879-4A53-AD25-D1615138A99C.jpegThey are still active, and posting ad on Facebook marketplace UK, I just received the same email, with a YouTube video viewing, not able to schedule any viewing before pay, and ask me to give details and all process will go through Airbnb blablabla.

luckily I google it first, they do sound quite legit and I had a thought to send them details. Thanks for reporting!!!!