Must Read: Airbnb Is Spending Millions of Dollars to Make Nightmares Go Away by Olivia Carville for Bloomberg (June 2021). A long expose. Sub-heading: When things go horribly wrong during a stay, the company's secretive safety team jumps in to soothe guests and hosts, help families - and prevent PR disasters.
According to one of the articles below, scammers all over the world have figured how best to game the Airbnb platform: by engaging in bait and switches;
charging guests for fake damages; persuading people to pay outside the Airbnb app; and, when all else fails, engaging in clumsy or threatening demands for
five-star reviews to hide the evidence of what they have done.
- Help! I Was Catfished by My Airbnb Host and the Place Was a Mess by Seth Kugel for the New York Times (Sept. 2022). The story of how a first-time Airbnb user found their rented apartment was not as described, and, an investigation into the issues by the Times. Worthwhile read. The property management company that put the apartment up for rent, Houst, did not use their real identity. Instead, they pretended to be a woman named Emily and they stole a picture from the Internet and said it was the fictional Emily. Houst also refused to talk to the reporter. This is but one example of the bigger issue: the near-total lack of transparency over Airbnb hosts. Serial killer? Faceless company wringing every nickel they can out of falsely represented homes? No way to know.
- Whose your host? Really. From the New York Times article (Sept 2022) above. The reporter has had better experiences with individuals as opposed to a hosting company. But, Airbnb hides the identity of hosts such that you can not even tell an actual property owner from a hosting company. Back in 2018, the EU required Airbnb to identify individual owners vs. companies, but Airbnb has not done so (for the most part). And, the rule only applies in Europe. So, the reporter tried to contact Airbnb about this and "Airbnb declined to answer any of my questions on the topic of host identity."
- To figure out whether an Airbnb listing is owner-hosted: (also from the NY Times article above) Maybe from the photos? Maybe if the description has a personal feel? Scroll down to the host profile. If there is a link to their other properties, it is probably a company. Check if the total number of reviews for the property matches the number that the host has received. Find the other listings on the host’s home page by clicking on their profile picture.
- Cancel Your Trip Due to Coronavirus? Airbnb Refuses Scores of Refunds by Olivia Carville and Eric Newcomer of Bloomberg News (March 2020). To put this in perspective, consider that the company was losing money even before the coronavirus. In the 4th quarter of 2019, they lost twice as much money as the 4th quarter of 2018.
- I stumbled across a huge Airbnb scam that’s taking over London by James Temperton for Wired (Feb 2020). Entire buildings have been turned into de facto hotels.
- Here Are the Most Common Airbnb Scams Worldwide by Anna Merlan for Vice (Jan 2020).
- I Accidentally Uncovered a Nationwide Scam on Airbnb by
Allie Conti for Vice (Oct 2019). While searching for the person who grifted them in Chicago, the author discovered how easy it is for users of the short-term rental platform to get exploited. Much of the blame falls on Airbnb's loosely written rules and even looser enforcement.
- In April 2019, Brian Krebs wrote about a service called Land Lords that creates Airbnb scams. A key piece of these scams are domains that look like airbnb.com, but, are not. The scam domain in the article was airbnb.longterm-airbnb.co.uk.
It looked exactly like the real Airbnb website and requested victims to sign. The fake site forwarded the legit Airbnb credentials to the real Airbnb, but only after recording them. Other domains used to scam Airbnb were: airbnb.longterm-airbnb.co.uk,
airbnb.request-online.com and airbnb-invoice.com. For another defense against this scam see the topic below on verified website identities.
The Airbnb Hell website claims to offer Uncensored Airbnb Stories & Reasons Not To Use Airbnb.
The website InsideAirbnb claims to be "a mission driven project that provides data and advocacy about Airbnb's impact on residential communities."
Why movies about deadly Airbnbs hit such a nerve right now by Joe Berkowitz for Fast Company (September 2022). While the article is about Airbnb themed horror movies, there are also many useful links. Quoting: "Long before starting a partnership with Scream last year, promoting overnight stays at a house featured in the franchise, horror was already embedded in Airbnb's DNA. The company's very premise is a bit horrifying: You pay a stranger to stay inside their home overnight, because an unregulated third-party declares it safe ... Airbnb's faint illusion of safety has always provided thin cover for vulnerabilities that villains could exploit, and primal fears that horror filmmakers could play like a symphony ... horror stories about it are nearly as popular as the service itself .... Some horror stories ... [involve] surveillance, robbery, scamming, or getting stranded ... Several people have been murdered in Airbnbs, many guests have perished due to a host's deadly negligence, and ... the company handles thousands of allegations of sexual assault every year, many involving rape."
From Airbnb: AirCover describes their consumer protection policy. The name AirCover is new, they started using
it in 2022. Important point: it requires guests to report problems within 72 hours of when they occur.
How To Tell If There's A Security Camera In Your Airbnb by safety.com (Jan 2021)
Four ways to find spy cameras in a hotel room or rented apartment.
by Leonid Grustniy of Kaspersky (Dec 2021).