Looking for an apartment? Watch out for this con using the Airbnb name. Phony landlords post photos of too-good-to-be-true rentals and claim the property will be managed by Airbnb. In reality, both the property and the relationship with Airbnb are fake.
How the Scam Works
You look at Craigslist, Apartments.com, or another major rental listing website for an apartment, and you spot a good deal. The apartment is a great price for the location. It comes fully furnished, allows pets, and includes utilities. The "landlord" claims that he is working overseas or on an off-shore oil rig and is looking for someone to rent his property. Because he will be out of reach, Airbnb will manage the apartment.
You email the "landlord," and his reply says that he will contact Airbnb to start the "rental process." But first, he needs your contact information, "a copy if your ID or Passport if possible," and a "fully refundable" $500 security deposit. In some reports of this scam, targets were asked to pay by iTunes gift cards. Only once he receives the security deposit will an Airbnb agent be assigned to show you the property.
You send the money and information, and the "landlord" tells you to watch for a confirmation email from Airbnb. Unfortunately, that message never comes. When you follow up with the phony landlord, he quickly stops replying to your emails. Unfortunately, you are out $500 and you shared your personally identifiable information with a con artist who could use it for identity theft.
How to Spot a Rental Scam:
For More Information
Read more about scams using Airbnb's name and platform on Airbnb.com.