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New Fraud Warning for Airbnb Hosts

Posted on Wednesday, March 8, 2023
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by AMAC, D.J. Wilson
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Airbnb is a San Francisco-based company that allows folks to book mainly short-term rentals instantly online. Their tagline is: “You can host anything, anywhere, so guest can enjoy everything, everywhere.” This online platform connects travelers with people who want to provide their home as a local accommodation. People can become “hosts” by providing the rental, and the travelers are considered “guests.” The company began in 2008 when two designers had space to share and hosted three travelers searching for a place to stay. Today, Airbnb acts as a broker and makes money by charging a commission from each booking. Though the company strives to protect its hosts and guests using identity verification, reservation screening, damage protection, and a 24-hour safety line, like with any company, scams still unfortunately occur.

Recently, a new Airbnb scam was revealed involving a bad actor seeking to take advantage of first-time homebuyers. Per KOIN 6 News, the incident occurred in Oregon, where an Airbnb home was fraudulently listed for sale by a scammer. The trickster dishonestly listed the home on the website For Sale By Owner. The property was listed for half of its value and available in cash to first-time home buyers only. To carry out the scam, the Airbnb guest, in this case the con artist, showed up at the home without luggage, entered the property, and stayed for a short period of time. Then others showed up and entered the home. The guest was pretending to be a representative of the sellers. The fraudster also booked another home on several different occasions to purportedly carry out a similar scheme.

Though reports of this nature are rare, Airbnb has vowed to act and investigate. However, this scam demonstrates that all businesses are vulnerable to scams. Folks need to beware and be sensible. Red flags should go off when homes are listed far below the value of others in the neighborhood. In addition, the bad actor was targeting first-time homebuyers who are deemed vulnerable. Another strong signal that something was awry is that the con artist was seeking cash payment. Most real estate transactions involve people getting preapproved and obtaining a mortgage. At the closing table, payment usually occurs via a cashier’s check or wire transfer. Handing over bills that cannot be traced is dangerous and risky. Should one wish to pay cash for a home, it is generally done with financial protection and not by handing over a wad of money. In this case, the modern proverbial saying comes to mind, “If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

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