I have been trying to find an apartment and found a listing on a popular rental website (not Airbnb). We started e-mailing, and the owner told me that he lives in Spain and will be using Airbnb's services for payment. It didn't seem strange until this last email. What bothers me about this is that it doesn't seem to follow any of Airbnb's practices. It also threw up other rental scam red flags, such as the fact that he wants me to pay before seeing the property, he's asking for my personal information outside the Airbnb platform, and the place doesn't come up on the Airbnb search list. Here is the portion of the most recent e-mail that I find odd, copy/pasted, edited for clarity:
"If you decide to proceed with this transaction, I will need your phone number along with your full name and address where you can be contacted for the keys and the rental contract. Then I will start the process through Airbnb here in Spain, providing them your information. Next you will receive a notification message from them, containing a receipt with all the instructions that you need to follow in order to complete the process and receive the keys and the rental contract.
Regarding the payment, you will get all the necessarily [sic] instructions on the invoice, so you can deposit the money for the first month along with the warranty, into an escrow bank account from AIRBNB. They will hold and insure your money until you check the apartment and decide if you want to rent it or not.
As soon as you will complete the deposit of $1,100 + $1,100 = $2,200 into their bank account, an agent from Airbnb will meet and show you the property. You will be given one day inspection period to take a decision and [in case you are not satisfied with the apartment], next day the total amount will be refunded to you by Airbnb. If you'll like the flat then you can keep the keys, sign the contract, and we will fix a date for the monthly payment, that it has to be done by you directly to my personal bank account."
There's a lot about the whole exchance that seems quite.... off. The more I think about it, the stranger it sounds. There is nothing on Airbnb about "escrow accounts," etc. It just smells terribly fishy, and I want to make certain that my eagerness and need for a place to go doesn't get me ensnared into some scammer's net. So, what are your thoughts on this?
this sounds to me like an attempt to defraud!
This is definitively not Airbnb practice, I have never ever heard about Airbnb agents (netither in Spain nor in other countries) which are authorized to collect cash for another webside. This sounds very scary!
If possible I would notify the other webside's support team to let them know about this case and/or flag this host in their system if you have the possibility.
Did he contact you through Airbnb message system as well? If yes you should flag him here as well!
And don't give any personal information and most important don't pay anything!
Please keep us informed, if you have any news in this case.
I recently saw a listing on a popular website too but I already sent the deposit, didn’t think anything was strange but I’m realizing now that just got scammed two grand. Is there anything I can do?
fHi Jemima, I am currently emailing as well with some guy that does not live here but abroad and claiming to be using Airbnb to rent safely. I live also in Dublin, Was that an apartment in Parnell St? Just trying to understand what is going on here:(!
@Laura1820 You should stop emailing with him. All these scammers claim they live abroad, they claim an "airbnb agent" will give them keys and let them preview the apartment. Airbnb doesn't work like that- there are no agents who give you keys or take you anywhere. I would urge you to disengage. If you want to find a legitimate listing, book through a legitimate booking platform.
@Laura1820 There are so many of these scam listings that have been reported, that I don't know what can be added to them that would make any difference. It doesn't matter who you were getting these emails from- they are all the same- claiming they live abroad, claiming that Airbnb will give keys, claiming that you can get a full refund if you don't like the place after you've previewed it, etc. If you search this forum, not only is there this thread, but others,-pages and pages of the exact same scam, cut and pasted here, with almost the exact same wording, with maybe the name of the scammer different.
The only place it makes sense to report this is to the police, some cybercrimes division. You could also report it to the website where you originally found the ad.
Me too. I was suppose to me the lady today to sign the contract and she didnt show up and now she is not replying to any of my emails.
Go to the police!! You might be surprised how helpful they can be, I was in New Zealand, sent money to Italy, for a flat in Germany. Eventually the money came back, via intervention from New Zealand police, Italian police and the bank over there. But the other stupid thing before that is that I sent scans of my ID and now the scammers, one year later, are pretending to be me and are advertising flats in my name. At least five people have contacted me asking if I am for real...