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?
Re: What are some common Guest Scams?
I have been hosting 3 years through a friend who handles the Airbnb part. Scams I see are people checking in with more guest than they say. Or checking out late and saying they have approval, but the best one I came across this year was a couple complaints was the driver was not big enough for there over sized Truck and they made other complaints as well. A bit of research on my part found they there are Airbnb hosts not far from us. So my guess is maybe they were giving out bad comments about other Airbnb places close to them so the bad reviews would drive customer toward them? So keep an eye on who is posting complaints, things like this have been done before. Maybe AirBnB can start rating out customers as well it would help weed out the bad one's and keep the honest one's.
Re: What are some common Guest Scams?
My most recent scam is someone trying to get out of his booking and get a refund.
First, he complained about noise. He said my cats were too noisy. When I countered with, "My cats were sleeping with me all night as I laid awake with a knee ache", he changed his story to "a bad odor". Something that cannot be proven or disproven so it's Host's word against the Guest's.