A couple of days ago I received an enquiry from a potential guest - good English, reasonably written, etc but asking to pay on arrival. I felt I had to pre-approve to ensure a quick response (for Airbnb purposes) but at the same time was immediately wary and said that payments had to be completed via Airbnb payments.
Also she was a new user with no reviews. The profile pic had been stolen off a wedding site (easy to check on Google). I have reported the user to Airbnb.
A company I work for who advertises a lot of properties on Airbnb also received something similar yesterday. Very plausible enquiry with lots of detail. Again asking to pay on arrival and with another 'stolen' pic.
My question is have other hosts been receiving these? What do they hope to gain by paying on arrival even if it was allowed? It certainly looks like an organised scam but it's a new one on me and I feel there needs to be some warnings.
@Sue49 Unfortunately there are many scams among the guests on Airbnb and till now Airbnb still let guests make reservations without any ID verification thus making much more problems towards hosts was are giving their best. It is as shame that Airbnb also allow people to use fake profile photos but i hope they will soon improve the way they vet a guest. Security is key to success!!!
My Id number was stolen and they opened a bank account and ruined my credit. Took two years to clean up. Who are you to think that you or AirBnb have a right to these government issued numbers that can be used financially rape a person?
When you confirm your ID with Airbnb it doesn't post your ID to the host, it only shows that you have a confirmed ID on file for security purposes.
Your ID can be stolen anywhere. From a car rental company, a hotel, night club or a liquor store. If we, as host, we are letting you come inside our personal space (our home) I believe is the least we can do is to confirm your identification.
Yes, this is a popular scam and often discussed on this Community center forum.
I'm actually not sure how they do the scam or I've forgotten the explanation by somebody. I think the scammer eventually gets the host to go to a fake link and thus give up their password, or there is another step involved in the payment process in which the host gets scammed. Bottom line is some scammers use a similar process like the Nigerian Prince inheritance emails.
It's becoming more and more important for hosts to be extremely vigilant because Airbnb is slowly but surely not improving their verification, but weakening it. Due to some countries' laws on online ID verification it's now not mandatory to upload one's photo ID anymore, except if it's required for InstaBook. Airbnb doesn't vet or do background checks on guests anyway. All the more essential for hosts to realize this and implement their own checks and controls.
@Andrea9 I did not think ABB ever did background checks.
As far as this case is concerned I would just pre approve and see what happens, btw I do have people stay with outside ABB but there is some connection or for example Cyclists passing by, I know my cancellation etc policy can be got around but for someone unknown to me I like to know they have at least paid ABB and there is some downside if they no show.
Thanks. I couldn't find anything on this particular one at all on the community...nor can I find it on a Google search.
I get email scams on a daily basis and, as I work in IT, can usually spot them a mile off. This was more disconcerting as it was through the Airbnb system from a 'verified' member....and as I say, I know of another case only yesterday using similiar methods, and that's why I thought it was new. Don't think either of us are unique.
As you can't exchange contact details or links prior to a booking on the system, my curiosity was getting the better of me as to what the next stage of the scam might be and how the scammer profits?
I have my own website and advertise elsewhere so not all my bookings are through Airbnb. I am pretty good at checking out all guests that come directly. When they are booked through Airbnb I stick to their rules, and in return expect some protection, as you are unable to do that for yourself in any satifactory way. I realise that in these times of the 'sophisticated scammer' that is difficult but just like to have as much information as possible.
This one does not shout scam at me, not saying it is not.
Verified means very little.
The picture well lots of people use all sorts of images including children, animals, film stars etc etc.
I had someone contact me last week, most of my booking they just book and that is it. This one had lots of questions which I repled to a few times then said more people would be coming, and a friend would be booking not her, then a day or so later the poor student can I have a discount. Well you are flying to the US and renting a car and driving around so not so poor.
Was it all a scam, do not know. I do know that some business is not worth having but I had pre approved so AirBnB is happy and I doubt I will hear anything more.
Thanks @David126. Couldn't agree more as some business is not worth having. I can see no other way than to pre-approve, as declining penalises you.
I don't play ball and expect not to hear back as you have said. Not sure it should be like this though - two options 'Pre-approve' or 'Decline'. Perhaps there should be something else that avoids penalties? ...especially as you say 'verified means very little'.
In this case I was able to track the profile pic not only to the photographer but the couple whose wedding it was (with their names) ....haha... (The other one was from a fashion catalogue). So in my mind this is a scam - if it was a dog I might understand. I must admit I don't use a photo of me in my profile, but it is my own photo/image so it could only be tracked back to me.
@David126 Haha... Well you see it worked.... To be honest it did not occur to me to be doing this for the reasons highlighted in this thread (I do often check for general photos). However it does prove it works, as using mine as a test, I found through up YouTube and Google + ...at least people can check we are legit.
Didn't work so well for profile pics for existing reservations but maybe those photos are not widely used ... unlike the scammers ones that are easily found on Google as they have been published widely before.
Thanks - all these conversations at least make you think more widely and can help others!
Heads up. I have been conned by a scammer.
I work in IT and I also work security related activity. I see scams on a daily basis.
Any time someone tries to pay outside Airbnb, is rejected.
However, they are getting really good at it.
Today I was contacted by a guest who described having a problem. He asked me how to get to my house. I didn't suspect anything because the conversation was extremely friendly and seemed natural.
I told him that it depends where he was. He continued the lie and said to me he was in the embassy of Germany and he told me the street. He looked for the address in Google.
Next thing I unaware of what's going on, give the address to him when explaining how to get to the house. I fell in the trap, because he used a common question: what is a nearest place that is known that I can use to get directions to your place?
As he used the common way of asking things used by legit guests, I disconnect from my senses and replied to him. I totally forgot he didn't book. I just pre approved him. Since I had such a mess of guests lately I wasn't sure if he acted confired the booking.
Many guests have cancelled lately or made changes, and I completely lost the control of who is really coming or not. Everything because of trying to stick to the instant booking policy which airbnb encourages.
When the guy was in the door of my house, he rang the bell several times.
When he saw me, he was extremely nice and chatty. He was chatty from the very beginning, asking for help and instructions.
I let him in my house. He wanted to sit down and chat. He started complaining about losing his wallet and having a hard day.
Then suddenly felt like something was really wrong. He was asking me about my profession, just before he was telling me about his supposed profession.
I realised he died approve the booking and I panicked inside me. However, he kept the lie going. He insisted that he couldn't pay and that he was willing to pay me in cash.
He asked me if I had any problem with this. He could pay me with Airbnb when he got his wallet back. He kept ellaborating even more the lie with other stories.
I finally told him that it was fine, I was just confused as I was having this experience for the first time.
He told me he had to get something to eat. I *gave him* the key. When he was about to leave, he asked me to come with him to the supermarket.
I first said yes, as he asked it in a very appealing way. But then I told him that I prefered to stay at home. At this point I realised I was scared.
I went to the entrance to explain to him how to get to the supermarket. It was cold and dark outside. He kept delaying his visit until the evening.
In the entrance, he said with a sweet voice and a angel face to me: are you sure about this? I can go to a hotel otherwise, there's no problem.
I told him it was fine and closed the account. I Inn called airbnb to ask if this was right, as he was so convincing, he already played with my mind I was confused about the whole thing.
Fortunately, they replied quickly and even though the agent said things in a very dull tone, she said enough to confirm that I was being scammed.
I them quickly put on my shoes and thought what the f- I could do?? They didn't tell me about calling the police or anything, just that "Airbnb is not responsible for anything happening outside the booking". For God's sake, I had a criminal in my house and that's all I got for a reply.
I put on my coat, as it was freezing outside and took his bag, he left a small bag in the bedroom.
I took my mobile phone and dialed the emergency number.
I closed the door and waited for him outside, but a bit farther from the house because there were more chances to meet people in the street. However, the street looked quite empty at that time, around 9 pm.
I didn't want to be too far away from the house though. He could come from a different direction. If he really went to the supermarket, he should come from that direction.
My heart was bumping like 1k per min. I thought that maybe he was coming over quite late? What I would do?
I kept looking to both sides. Suddenly, I spotted him coming back from the opposite direction I told him it was the supermarket.
I ran towards the house, putting my phone inside the pocket, and holding that bag.
I stood in front of the door and I said to him that I was sorry, and asked him to give the key back to me. He took the key but when I held the key, he pushed back. I looked at him really scared and shocked.
He then released the key and I put in my pocket. I said: here is your bag.
He tried one more time. He looked at me with a sad face like an angel that has done nothing wrong in his life, and asked: why?
I was trying to contain my real expression until then. I looked at him with a deep stare and told him that all this was illegal.
He looked down for a second. I wasn't sure what was happening next. He could have forced me into my house and who knows. I got really, really scared in that moment and I feared the worst was about to happen.
He took the bag after a few seconds and walked away slowly. He turned around and asked: is everyone in there? Looking inside his bag. "Yes, I didn't touch anything"- I said to him.
I turned around to put the key in the lock and open the door to get in, but suddenly realised that I wasn't watched him for a couple of seconds. I turned around quickly again, and he disappeared. I opened the door quickly and got in, while looking all the time next to me. There was a big van parked in front of the house and I couldn't see properly.
I got in and locked the door.
My phone rang and it was Airbnb. They were calling back because of my previous call. I appreciate they called me back, however, the agent only repeated with a dull voice the same again like s voice mail: Airbnb is not responsible for anything that happens if there is no booking, and wanted to hang up really quickly.
I didn't know what to do. I felt like calling the police. This guy is *very* dangerous. He is a con artist and professional scammer.
However, since involving the police sometimes is not helpful at all, as they may even say there's nothing to do, or that it was even my fault.. I am not sure what to do next, but I just feel like I am not able to process yet all this and I am shocked.
Not to mention that the first thing I've done is disabling this **bleep** thing called "instant booking". Until there's more security features for hosts, I won't enable this again.
I woke up in the middle of the night jumping scared of a noise. I am still really worried about this and my future guests.
How terrifying. I just had a young man check in... He says He's a flight attendant but I don't believe him. He already asked if he could use my computer because it's too hard to do what he has to do on his phone. I told him where the library is ....... His suite has a separate entrance, funny he accidentally came to the front door and walked in very comfortably......