I have been hosting for two years now and have seen my share of shady and suspicious guests.  I am wondering what actual scams other hosts have seen committed by potential guests.

 

The most serious scam I ever saw was what I believed to be a key-copying scam.  A man in Boston booked my room, then on the first night of the reservation, an unknown woman came to the residence and was knocking on the door, apparently unaware that the door had a keycode entry. She did not have any of the check-in instructions and had only been sent on her phone a screenshot of the home’s address. Once in the residence, the woman began asking repeatedly to be given an actual key. After several minutes of explanations, she finally understood that there was no key but rather a keycode for the door which would expire at the end of the stay. This clearly upset her a bit and she became visible nervous. She then went outside and was on her cellphone for a minute before walking away towards the local bus stop. She did not return to the residence on the first night, but closed the door to the room and left the lights on as to give the appearance that someone was in the room. Upon checkout, the room was found to be undisturbed and it did not look like anyone had slept in the beds.

 

Another, more complicated scam, involved a guest who was trying to gather information about the property without actually booking.  Over the course of six months, I received  three pre-approval booking inquiries - they all said the same thing - mainly that a guest wanted to book the room for a large number of days, was "moving into an apartment" and needed the room right away. The first of these I agreed to, since I thought I had a good opportunity for a booking and there were no real warning signs. However, the pre-approvals would then expire, and then the guest began sending numerous messages through AirBNB asking for extensive details about the house. More messages followed, asking details about did I live alone in the house, who else would be there, and also they wanted the specific street address prior to booking so they could come and see the house before booking. When I explained this was against AirBNB policy, the messages suddenly stopped. Then, several weeks later - pre-approval request again, asking about the room, moving into an apartment, need it right away, etc, etc. An obvious script which was being repeated.

 

To a lesser degree, I have received numerous questionable messages about same day bookings.  Typically strange vague messages, speaking about emergencies and needing the room right away.  Of those I've approved,  20% of them never show up and of those that do about 30% don't stay the night.  Obviously something going on.

 

What scams have other hosts seen?

31 Replies

Re: What are some common Guest Scams?

in
Orono, ME
Level 10

"If Airbnb can't then collect this, how are they supposed to collect from the guest's 'deposit' if there were damages and the guest doesn't respond??"

 

They can't. That's why no actual deposit exists. Hosts have to turn to Airbnb in hopes that the 1 Millon Dollar Host Guarantee will supply the funds. And we all know that is a huge gamble as well.

 

@Huma0 

Re: What are some common Guest Scams?

in
London, United Kingdom
Level 10

@Emilia42 

 

So, basically the guest has to agree in order for damages to be collected from the mythical deposit? That makes it even more pointless then.

 

I guess the only use it has is to act like some sort of deterrent for the guests who actually believe that the host/Airbnb has the power to take it. However, I think that most guests, once they realise no physical deposit is collected on booking, don't take it too seriously anymore.

Re: What are some common Guest Scams?

in
Orono, ME
Level 10

@Huma0 

Yes, if the guest denies the claim or is unresponsive that is when it goes to Airbnb, and then Airbnb decides whether or not to pay you. Airbnb doesn't take money out of the guest's bank accounts unless the guest authorizes it. Can you imagine the uproar that would create among guests?

Re: What are some common Guest Scams?

in
Los Angeles, CA
Level 10

Even if it's not a scam, I've found that last minute bookings are more likely to be from haphazard people who do not read or don't care about your rules. The only two guests who ever smoked in my non-smoking suite had booked within 24 hours of arrival. Since then, I require at least 2 days advance notice to book.

Another strategy is to lower your price about 5% in order to attract guests who book well in advance and are more likely to be responsible people. As the date nears closer, you can raise your price.

Re: What are some common Guest Scams?

in
Arkansas, United States
Level 2

I have been a host for almost 4 years now.  In the past 2 months I have had request for month long stays.   Different reasons were given:  traveling online college student. And someone stating they used to live in this area.  
Both attempted outside messaging through phone calls or WhatsApp.   First red flag.  

 

They complement my listing & act very friendly but don’t answer questions directly.   Second red flag. 

 

Their profile is Empty but they have been a member for a while without any reviews. 
That’s a huge RED FLAG. 

I think more people are trying to get access to information just to rip you off.   Poor Economy has brought out the worst in people.   

I am renting rooms not an entire place.  

Does everyone report the user? 
Is there anything I can put in my listings to discourage this?  

Cindee

 

Re: What are some common Guest Scams?

in
Sayulita, Mexico
Level 10

@Cindee1  While it's certainly important to be aware of red flags, and I agree with your first 2, I have now had 3 guests who showed they had been members for a long time, yet had no reviews. In all 3 cases, it was quite innocent- one said she'd had 2 stays but her hosts hadn't bothered to leave a review, one had joined planning a trip, but the trip fell through due to work commitments, one had always travelled with her husband, booked through his account, but used her account to armchair travel- browsing listings in various parts of the world, like you'd browse through a travel magazine.

 

In all those cases, the guests were good communicators, sent articulate, informative booking requests, and all turned out to be great guests. I just said I was curious as to why they had no reviews, and they were quite forthcoming in explaining.

Re: What are some common Guest Scams?

in
Klamath Falls, OR
Level 2

As a rule I don’t rent to locals. I have made a few exceptions here and there, but generally avoid that like the plague. I made a mistake yesterday in not looking at a guests “From” information. She was “From” Klamath Falls with zero reviews and same day booking for one night. Same day booking, zero reviews and one night, in and of themselves and not necessarily a bad thing in my area, because this is a tourist destination and its far from the “Next Place” on the road. But being from Klamath Falls is a really big red flag.

 

I could sense that she wasn’t being truthful when I met her at the front gate. Asked here where she was from and she said Salem. I have some familiarity with Salem. Asked here where she lived and worked and her answers were vague and unconvincing. She said she was down here to buy a car (250 miles from Salem) but she hadn’t decided.

 

She was also trying to bring in a weeks worth of laundry, with all the detergents, softeners, and bleach. We have all that in the unit.

 

Then surprise surprise her Boyfriend might show up for the night. Wait what? So she submits a request to change the number of people which I didn’t approve and 2 minutes later this joker in an raggedy car with a bunch of LA gangster tattoos shows up. So I told the both of them that this isn’t going to work and the would have to go get a hotel.

 

My big fear with locals is that once they get in, its hard to get them out, and they can just squat there for months. I like travelers because they come and then they go away. 

Re: What are some common Guest Scams?

in
Frederick, MD
Level 10

Just bumping this thread because a good friend who hosts in a large US city just let me know her ABB was being used for prostitution for the last week.  Guest had 3 glowing reviews but had only booked whole house stays. My friend has a little carriage house in her back yard with a separate entrance and a decent amount of privacy.  She was on vacation for the first part of the stay and the guest did not contact her nor did she reach out to the cohost. She returned to find cars  parked in the alley/lots of cars coming and going behind her house where the entrance to the carriage house is. Upon exploring further she discovered that the car owners had "appointments" with the guest.  When she asked them to leave (no unregistered guests allowed) the registered guest got upset and said she was told she'd have "complete privacy" for the week to "conduct a personal care workshop." It was abundantly clear what was going on. The guest left in a huff and now her listing is "under investigation" because the guest claims she was being spied on. Clean  up was also very revelatory regarding what had been going on in the space.

 

I suspect this happens a lot more than hosts realize. 

Re: What are some common Guest Scams?

in
Key West, FL
Level 2

We just had guests, no review.  They showed up with one extra guest.  They asked for late check out.  Unable.  We showed up with crew to clean.  House was trashed.  Rotten food in sink with maggots, urine in bed, garbage shoved in couch, etc.  we made a claim.  Guest made counter claim that they felt “unsafe”.  Guests were white, host is black.  100 positive feedback, amazing house in Caribbean.  Completely private, gated community and 1 acre lot.  Airbnb immediately locks accounts for this listing and another listing for host.  

Re: What are some common Guest Scams?

in
Arkansas, United States
Level 10

@Robert-And-Charity0 

 

I wonder when they first started feeling unsafe: Before or after they peed the bed?

 

If someone treats my house that way they have good reason to feel unsafe.

 

 I hope you got pictures.

 

This business of locking accounts for IMAGINARY COMPLAINTS has got to stop!

Re: What are some common Guest Scams?

in
Sayulita, Mexico
Level 10

@Robert-And-Charity0  Sorry this happened to you. But race has nothing to do with it. You think white guests don't trash white hosts' homes and black guests don't trash black hosts' homes? House trashers don't discriminate as to the skin color of the host whose home they abuse. They are just disrepectful, disgusting jerks, and they come in all colors, and nationalities, just like good guests do.

 

Some of the house trashers will even claim they were discriminated against because of their race when they get booted out or reported, not knowing that the host is actually married to a person of the guest's own race.

Re: What are some common Guest Scams?

in
Key West, FL
Level 2

We suspect that if the guests were black and hosts were white, the account would not have been immediately suspended without gathering evidence.  There’s a FB group that is discussing this, and the consensus is that black hosts are treated differently when issues arise than white hosts by Airbnb.

Re: What are some common Guest Scams?

in
Sayulita, Mexico
Level 10

@Robert-And-Charity0  I suggest you search other threads on the forum re listings being suspended. Airbnb has been doing this to all hosts, white, black, Asian, male, female, whatever- it seems to be the new thing- guest makes up some bogus complaint, host gets suspended without notice.

 

Don't make this about racial discrimination- the only discrimination that is going on in this regard is Airbnb's outrageous treatment of all hosts. That's what we need to complain about and demand that they change. Don't let them divide and conquer. All hosts are in this together.

Re: What are some common Guest Scams?

in
Sayulita, Mexico
Level 10

It's starting to sound like anytime a guest makes a complaint to Airbnb, the response is to suspend the host's listing. This is completely unacceptable.

Re: What are some common Guest Scams?

in
Zagreb, Croatia
Level 10

I am surprised nobody mentioned the good old "bedbugs" and "hair-on-the-sheet" refund scam. The good thing is, it seems Airbnb doesn't accept it anymore so the fraudsters will have to be more creative in the future 🙂

 

I mean, how difficult it is to place a hair and a few crumbs on the sheet and take a photo? Anyone can do that and demand a full refund. I am surprised these scams lasted at Airbnb for so many years.

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