Airbnb “Host” Scams: Protect Yourself With One Simple Step

T he Airbnb service has been lauded many times here at BoardingArea as an alternative to traditional lodging options such as hotels — but be wary of what appears to be an increasing number of “hosts” attempting to scam you out of your money.

That is what allegedly happened to Tommie Marie Fowler, a Georgia woman who decided to book her birthday weekend at a rental home from a Jessie Garcia in Miami using Airbnb — only to have her $1,655.00 disappear, according to this report by Dana Fowle, an investigative reporter for WAGA-TV in Atlanta. There is a video which accompanies that report.

Here is where she made her mistake — and how you can prevent a similar situation from happening to you: in addition to the official communication through the official Internet web site of Airbnb, the host requested that Fowler copy those messages to the personal email address of Garcia — and Fowler complied with the request.

Fowler received a rental confirmation from Garcia through what she believed to be the official Internet web site of Airbnb — but it was a fake address. Garcia then convinced Fowler into paying for the lodging with a money order rather than her credit card which was already on file with Airbnb.

When the money was gone, Fowler contacted representatives of Airbnb and panicked when she found out that she had been corresponding with Garcia using what is now confirmed to be a fake Airbnb address.

Do not let this happen to you, as the official Internet web site of Airbnb gives some prudent advice pertaining to payment of your lodging using its service. Ensure that you have Airbnb debit your credit card for the required funds to secure your lodging reservation — do not allow anyone else access to your money.

As for Fowler: she fortunately received a refund from Airbnb.

I personally have not tried the service offered by Airbnb yet; but frequent travelers do like the idea of renting out a room or a home from someone to get more of a local “flavor” of where they travel as opposed to the often predictable traditional hotel room.

If you do decide to use Airbnb for accommodations when you travel, ensure that you take a few extra minutes to be diligent about where you send the payment of your money.

5 thoughts on “Airbnb “Host” Scams: Protect Yourself With One Simple Step”

  1. MuslimTravelGirl says:

    I am not very keen on the idea sleeping in someones house hence haven’t tried Airbnb yet. Though it should be pretty simple to never share your information outside these websites so you make sure you are covered.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      One thing I have learned over the years, MuslimTravelGirl, is never to assume that something is too simple — even for frequent fliers and “road warriors” — as sometimes what seems to be the simplest of information is overlooked as a result of that assumption.

      I am also hesitant to sleep in the home of someone else whom I do not know. I once tried a “bed and breakfast” — the “bnb” part of Airbnb — and I did not like it…

      1. MuslimTravelGirl says:

        True that Brian, you are right even the most simple and obvious shouldn’t be overlooked.

  2. John says:

    How many more airbnb hosts are attempting to scam guests today than they were a year ago (or whatever time period you’re saying they’ve inceased in)?

    I’m curious as to the actual stats….10%? 20%

    Also, couldn’t you say this about any service or produc? Anyone who would send a money order to an unknown person isn’t the brightest person — and frankly is kinda stupid.

  3. We’ve used Airbnb a few times and have been very happy with it overall. It isn’t my first choice when looking for a place to stay but opens up a ton of options when cheap hotels seem really bad or are very limited.

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