Possibility of scams

Level 2
131 Views

Hello all, 

 

I am a student from Belgium and next year, I will spent 5 months in Saint-Petersburg, Russia as part of an exchange project. This of course means that it's necessary to find housing for me and two other students. I figured that for this, no service would be better than Airbnb! 

 

I am completely new to this platform, and our university warned us to be wary of scams when looking for housing. There have been for example instances of students renting an apartment, only to discover is does not even exist.  Since paying 5 months worth of housing is quite a big investment for a student, I was wondering if this is an issue I should worry about or al least be wary of on this platform. Not necessarily for Russia specifically, but just as well in a general sense. This might just be me being paranoid, but I figured it would be useful to know what more experienced users of this platform think about it. 

 

Thanks already, 

Teun Telier

 

 

7 Replies

Re: Possibility of scams

in
СПБ, Russia
Level 10

@Teun11 

 

With airbnb if you are planning on a multi month stay, you pay the first month upfront and thereafter in installments.

If a rogue host tries a bait and switch trick, there is recourse through airbnb.

On the airbnb site, you can see where a host has a proven track record of reviews which gives peace of mind.

 

Your University is right to flag up warnings regarding scams, but I think it's more likely to be aimed at local  websites pertaining to Russia such as avito where it's very much less regulated and dubious property agents are active.

 

I'd recommend if you are coming to SpB, book somewhere first on airbnb for a week or ten days, then you can see the local offerings for yourself and  be in a position to choose a place that meets your needs. 

Re: Possibility of scams

Level 2

Thank you so much, this does put my mind at ease quite a bit! I will certainly keep those tips in mind in my search for a good place. Just maybe one more thing, is there a possibility on airbnb that reviews are in fact fake? Is something like that known to happen here? 

 

Re: Possibility of scams

in
Berlin, Germany
Level 10

@Teun11  Fake reviews aren't completely unheard of, but you can always click on the reviewer's profile to see whether they're a genuine user. An established listing with a lot of reviews is far less likely to have fakes than a newer one.

 

You can also click on the host's profile to see their other listings and reviews. If you notice that the host has something like 200 reviews but their active listings all appear to be new, do not rent from them - that's a tactic where the host deletes and re-animates a listing to cover up really poor ratings.

Re: Possibility of scams

in
СПБ, Russia
Level 10

@Teun11 

 

To leave a review, first you have to go through the rigmarole of setting up an account then actually have to book the listing.  I'm sure there are a few fake reviews out there, but in general if you looked at a few random listings you get a fast feel for authenticity. Probably more destructive competitor reviews than puffed up boosterism reviews exist.

 

SpB attracts lots of visitors, especially during the White Nights high season, so there is a buoyant market of places to rent.

 

As a student in SpB you should prepare a checklist to fit your needs - near transport links, especially metro, place inside a yard rather than looking over a busy street with trams clanking by from 5am, away from communalka flats, communal skips or 24hr stolovaya canteens or K&B off licenses.

Also to decide historic central area vs new builds further out of the city...

Re: Possibility of scams

in
Arkansas, United States
Level 10

@Teun11 

 

There are (infrequently) totally fake listings on Airbnb but you will know because the fake host will try to get you to book privately by offering a discount.

 

Never do this. Airbnb will ban you for even suggesting it.

And I fully agree with @Elena87 about renting for a week or two before making a long term commitment.

 

That is best anywhere in the world. When you get there you can often find the best deals by talking to other people, looking at public bulletin boards, or local newspapers, and then inspecting the premises personally.

Re: Possibility of scams

in
Sayulita, Mexico
Level 10

@Teun11  Mostly people get scammed by responding to ads found elsewhere, not on the official Airbnb site. Then the scammer sends you a long email about why they are renting the place, tells you they'll use Airbnb for the first month's payment, that an Airbnb agent will meet you and show you the place and give you keys, the scammer asks you to send a copy of your ID, etc. 

 

They send you to a fake Airbnb site, then tell you to send money. None of this is how Airbnb works. So this is what you really need to watch put for.

 

Read through this thread, which will alert you to scam ads:

https://community.withairbnb.com/t5/Help/Rental-scam-using-Airbnb-How-should-I-go-forward-if-at-all/...

Re: Possibility of scams

Level 2

Thank you @Sarah977  @Brian2036 @Elena87 @Andrew0 for the information, you've all been too kind with providing me with this information. I think I have a pretty good idea of how to steer clear of scams now! 

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