The Airbnb Scam Travellers NEED To Know About

Nick Wharton Author Bio Picture

We’ve been booking apartments on Airbnb for over 3 years and we’ve spent hours upon hours on the website, and yet, we almost fell for this Airbnb scam that would’ve cost us over $3,000 USD.

The Airbnb scam was so ingenious, and so well put together that I feel it’s extremely important that I share it with you all so that you don’t end up falling into the same trap.

Here’s how we almost fell for a fake Airbnb account and nearly lost $3,300.

We had been searching for a nice apartment in Lisbon, Portugal for about 3 weeks. We’d pretty much seen every place available on Airbnb in our price range but had no luck, so we started searching on Craigslist.

We were amazed to see that there were a couple of beautiful places that were within our price range. I contacted a few and the owners got back right away.

One owner in particular (who had a nice 1 bedroom right in the city with a big patio) got back to me and seemed to be quite “legit”.

His name was (supposedly) Reynolds Daniel and he told me that he felt more comfortable having me book the apartment through Airbnb.

He went on to say that Airbnb offers buyers protection so that I could simply put up the full payment, see the place before checking in and if I didn’t like or it wasn’t as it appeared in the photos, he’d allow a full refund through the Airbnb platform.

Please Note: This Airbnb scam was done on a FAKE Airbnb website and in no way impacts the way the authentic website’s security, user experience or refund policy works. The scam you’re about to read about is a tricky one, but it is not actually Airbnb being involved in shady practices. If you continue to only use the real Airbnb website to communicate with hosts and book your accommodations, you will have no issue.

This sounded perfect for us. We know the rules on Airbnb and that they offer refunds for unhappy customers, so we were happy to have some kind of insurance for our initial deposit.

Finally, after a few more days, Reynolds Daniel sent me the link to book his apartment on the Airbnb website.

Airbnb Scam Website Listing

Here’s where the Airbnb scam begins.

When I clicked over to the link, initially everything looked fine. The site looked exactly like Airbnb at first glance (even to my eye, having spent countless hours browsing the site).

I put in my dates and voila, the price showed exactly what Mr. Daniel said it would be in his emails. €650 per month for three months plus a €650 deposit, plus an Airbnb fee for a total of €2,700 ($3,300 USD).

At this point, I called Dariece into the room.

“That Reynolds Daniel guy finally got back about the apartment and sent me the Airbnb link. Let’s book it!”.

To read about our good experiences with Airbnb and other online apartment sites, check out: 9 Beautiful Apartments We’ve Rented Around The World

Dariece was super excited and agreed that we should book it right away.

She sat down next to me and scanned the website because she wanted to read the reviews. Sure enough, there were ten 5 star reviews on the listing and everything looked great. The reviews were worded slightly strangely, but nothing too out of the ordinary.

Then we noticed that the URL of the listing was a little bit off. It showed “…”. We were a bit confused by this, but as the URL started with “” I figured there was no way it could be a SPAM site.

Airbnb Scam Website Listing 2

It was my understanding that if the URL started with the proper brand with a dot com, it had to be authentic.

We then scrolled down and scanned the site with a slightly more scrutinous eye. This time we realized that the listing included the apartment’s exact address in Lisbon.

Airbnb Scam Website Listing Adress

Usually, Airbnb doesn’t tell you the exact address until after you book in order to keep the privacy of the owner’s location and stop people from soliciting apartment offers outside of the Airbnb platform.

Now we were suspicious.

Finally, we spotted a working, live chat icon at the bottom right of the screen (yes, you could chat with it). While it would be great if Airbnb had this feature, we were well aware that they do not.

At this point we ran a Google search that went something like this:

“ fake Airbnb website scam”

Sure enough, our search brought up a few very telling results, including an article on The Guardian and another on Huffington Post.

We read the article on Huff and after just a couple of minutes, we realized that we were almost the victims of a common Airbnb scam. The website we were looking at was a fake Airbnb site.

The article was titled: “Beware This Evil-Genius Scam” (probably a better title than I chose for this post) and it detailed the experience of the author who actually fell for the fraudulent website trick and lost $3,800 USD.

She also pointed out the red flags she should’ve noticed on the website like the reviews, the strange URL (although his URL was different than mine) and the live chat icon. The only difference between the author’s story and ours was that she actually lost her money.

Airbnb Scam
View From a Good Airbnb Booking We Had in Valparaiso, Chile

In the author’s defense, she experienced the scam from a different angle that would be far harder to catch. She was actually communicating with the homeowner through the chat on the real Airbnb platform.

She found a place she liked, contacted the owner via Airbnb’s chat function and began a dialogue with him on the site. The owner eventually told her to send an email and their communications continued over email.

Then, after everything was agreed upon, the owner emailed her a link to his fraudulent Airbnb listing to make the payment.

Airbnb Scam Email Communication With Host
An Email From Our Con Man

Had I already been talking with the owner through the Airbnb platform, I may not have been so scrupulous in checking the website and I may very well have fallen for the trick like this poor soul did when he lost $36,000.

Think about it — if you’re chatting on the real Airbnb site, then you chat over a couple of emails and then the host sends you an email back to Airbnb, you’ll probably be pretty quick to book.

Luckily, Dariece has a keen eye for scams and we were able to thwart the efforts of this would-be cyber thief.

Had we booked, we would have then purchased our flights to Lisbon, gone there, taken a taxi from the airport to the address in the booking only to find out that there is no such apartment at that address and we’re out $3,300!

Heed This Warning

If you’re booking on Airbnb, be very wary of communicating outside of the platform and don’t book apartments through any Airbnb websites that don’t look exactly like the regular site.

Keep your eye out for small differences on the site and especially, check the URL to make sure it’s a normal Airbnb web address.

We’re all for contacting hosts to ask for discounts or special offers, but when they send you the links, make sure they’re on the authentic website. If you have any doubts whatsoever, contact Airbnb customer support and send them the URL to check its authenticity.

Airbnb Scam Contact Airbnb Customer Support


We are so happy that we didn’t fall for this Airbnb hoax, but we are frequent users of the platform.

We feel that if we hadn’t spent hours upon hours on the real site in the past, we could have easily booked this apartment on the fraudulent site and been out $3,300.

This post is for anyone who may find themselves in this same situation. Whether you found your apartment on Craigslist or another free apartment forum, or if you were sent a link from a host on the actual Airbnb site, be aware of this Air bnb scam.

Have you run into this Airbnb scam or any others that you feel may help travellers? Please share in the comments below and help others avoid getting ripped off!

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“The Airbnb Scam Travellers Need To Know AboutHow To Avoid Airbnb Scams“The Airbnb Tips You Need To Know Before You Travel


Nick Wharton Author Bio Picture

Written by

Nick Wharton

Nick is the co-founder, editor and author of Goats On The Road. He contributes to numerous other media sites regularly and shares his expert knowledge of travel, online entrepreneurship and blogging with the world whenever he can. He has been travelling and working abroad since 2008 and has more than 10 years of experience in online business, finance, travel and entrepreneurship.

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161 thoughts on “The Airbnb Scam Travellers NEED To Know About”

  1. Whoaaa Goats,

    Thanks for the headsup, we are regular airbnb users too and this is quite an evil scam thats highly difficult to spot, we will be doubly cautious from now on and look for tell tale signs

  2. Oh my… I had no idea that this AirBnB scam existed! But well then again… It had to come with such a popular website managing money, right?

    I’m happy that you managed to see the errors before it was too late. Your tips on how to double check whether it is a scam or not, are great! Thanks for sharing, guys!

  3. Do not use Craigslist in Portugal, Probably you should not use it in any European country. Nobody here uses it and it is always full of scams.

  4. This is crazy! Glad to have read this though, I’ll definitely make sure I’m on my guard for the next time.

    FYI, the HuffPost author is female – in the blog you’ve made it sound like she is a ‘he’ ! I think you maybe got mixed up because the 2+2 guy is male. Thought I’d let you know!

  5. The first thing I noticed is that there was no https with the little lock icon in the address bar. Any legitimate site will have this configuration. The “S” in https is for secure. Never buy or transfer any data over a non secure site. Most scammers won’t bother to put this in place so it is a sure sign of an illegitimate site.

    – Len

  6. I’m glad you guys caught on to it before paying! I have used airbnb quite a few times, and from my experience, I do not use any links landlords send me, I book directly via the airbnb app on my phone. Sure,I communicate with landlords via email or via WhatsApp or wechat but when it comes to payment I stick exclusively to the official app, the owners can adjust the price in the app itself if they want to offer a discount.
    Stay safe, thanks for sharing your experiences!

  7. Thanks for the heads-up Goats! I was nearly scammed some years ago while trying to book lodging in Key West – luckily I noticed something suspicious and cross-referenced the address (red flag) with a quick google search and found the property was listed for sale with several real estate companies. Calld one and they confirmed it was not a rental but privately owned and on the market. We are traveling to S. Spain and Portugal in October and I wl be looking for a place in Portugal, LMK if you have any recommendations. TY 🙂

  8. I read the article with a great deal of interest as I too am a frequent Airbnb user and a super host. What confuses me is that every time I have corresponded with a potential guest or host and either offered a website, email, phone number Airbnb blanked it out.

    Show the obvious question is, why was the website that you linked to not block out by Airbnb?

  9. Whoa. This is crazy.

    What’s funny, (and I say this as a host) is that AirBNB is just starting to use a feature where you can list the exact address of your property (not the map with the general grey circle) so that might not have tipped me off that it was a phony listing. Good catch!

  10. I have used Airbnb many times without any issues and I would reccomend the site as a very safe way to book a holiday accommodation. But I guess scammers always find a way….Thank you so much for the heads up on this scam. I hope you have a great time in Grenada again

  11. Unreal. We just booked a place via Airbnb for June (California) and I was so nervous to do it but had a good gut feeling. I have only connected with the owner through Airbnb so now we just keep our fingers crossed for a good outcome. We have only booked through VRBO and it’s been great so I hope this will be too.

  12. Wow! I had no idea that this scam existed. Thanks for sharing and I will share also – I know lots of people that would have no idea that a) the scam existed and b) how to tell that it’s not legit. Thanks!!

  13. I wonder what would have happened if you had clicked to book because in my experience, airbnb already has my payment details, and they just say do you want to pay with credit card and the last four digits. So, these scammers presumably would have to ask for your full credit card details. So, that would be another clue I would think that this was not legit.

  14. They just get sneakier and sneakier don’t they.
    WE almost got scammed many thousands of dollars on Booking dot com- twice ! Someth8g felt off and I cancelled both Bookings and got a full refund. Both were places in London that didn’t actually exist.

    You have to be on your guard all the time !

  15. Cheeky!! That is a very clever and terrible scam. Good tip – URL will tell all. Plus, if you sign into your own Airbnb and not via any links – you will be fine. We go to lots of Air bnbs and have had amazing times. I prefer them as we can be immersed in the culture and meet the local people. We met an amazing family in Sri Lanka and they are like family now. It is a great platform. Thank-you for the warning!

  16. Hi! It’s a pretty known scam in Portugal, if you’re searching for an apartment for sure you will get across this. My problem with this article: using Air bnb in Lisbon is raising crazy high apartment rents for all the people that live here on daily basis!

  17. Hi Guys, thanks for the heads up on the Airbnb scam. As an additional point the fake site is not https:// encrypted too. All genuine sites that deal with Internet transactions have to have https:// encryption. This is commonly displayed before the URL in green with a padlock symbol ( on most browsers) I would be very suspicious of ALL sites that do not have https:// and take payments as the data between you and them is not encrypted.
    Hope this helps a few others.

  18. This is good advice for any new Airbnb user! Most of all, it is good advice for general online use. My wife and I have been Airbnb Hosts since 2015 and always pride ourselves in making sure our guests feel 100% safe and secure when booking with us in the United States.

    Airbnb is such a wonderful platform and it is sad there are bad people out there using the name to scam good people. Comes with the territory I guess. If you or someone you know is looking to start an Airbnb in your home then please check out It is a great resource for everyday people looking to make their home work for them!

  19. This just happened to my friend. As we sat for lunch in El Salvador she was telling me all about the apartment a friend found for her in Madrid and is exactly what you guys shared, the only thing was that she gave the deposit relying on Airbnb and thinking it was legit 🙁
    Be careful!

  20. The fact that the fake property apparently wasn’t listed on the real website when they were doing all their searching should have also tipped them off.

  21. Didn’t the person who got scammed use a credit card? You should let them know to contact their credit card company right away— they can often help get the money back. Or, at least the credit card company will put a hold on the payment for anyone else who tries to pay the scammer again. I’ve found American CC companies to be very helpful with scams, bad payments, etc. (Sometimes too helpful, and they stop my credit card until I call them!)

  22. I use AirBnB often and although I consider myself to be keen on scams the link through the legit AirBnB site would have probably got me in some trouble.
    I have been asked my property owners to book via different links but so far they have all been to property management sites – this has been the case in Hawaii especially.

    I’m glad you were able to pick up on the scam before they could take your money!

  23. I think the email he sent to you was already very suspicious. This thing with foreigners saying they own a house in a certain country (there’s no way a “Daniel Reynolds” could be Portuguese) and that it’s available now because they had to move to another country is always a red alert (maybe in 1% of cases it could be true, but in 99% of them it’s a scam). Usually the ads have really great photos of houses that, if you’re familiar with the area they’re supposed to be located in, you know cannot be true. Also, Craigslist is not very used in Portugal (at least I, as a Portuguese person, never knew it had adds here, I thought it was only for the USA). And that sentence in poorly constructed English (“and he moved to Paris”)… All of these sounded fishy!

    Anyway, I’m glad you spotted it before any money was involved and hope that you find a nice spot in Lisbon (the city where I live) 🙂 it’s so popular these days with tourism that these scams will start happening more, I guess (what a pity).

  24. It’s so lucky that you picked up on the scam before purchasing! That screenshot legitimately looks like the Airbnb site and I’m sure that many people (myself included) might not pick up on those small differences between the real and fake websites. Thanks for sharing your experience with this!

  25. I know right? Neither did we. You’re absolutely right. With a website as popular and reputable as Airbnb, there are bound to be some scammers who copy the site and try to trick people.

  26. This is great to know! There was actually another similar case we had to this one, but never got as far as seeing a link. Too good to be true = just that. Thanks for the heads up.

  27. Awesome catch. Thanks for the edit. I don’t think you need to “feeling or showing tiredness, especially as a result of excessive exertion or lack of sleep.” in order to thwart this con haha. Wary it is

  28. The person who got scammed in the Huff article actually used a bank wire transfer and upon following up, it doesn’t sound likely there will be any reimbursment.

    We’ve also found our Canadian cards to help with scams. Great tip! Thank you

  29. Oh no! The problem is it’s NOT Airbnb and so there’s nothing Airbnb can do about it. It’s easy to pop up one of these phishing sites, rip someone off and then shut it down without the real Airbnb ever knowing. So sorry to hear about your friend.

  30. Hi Agata, Thanks for the heads up on Portugal Airbnb. It’s actually causing problems with rental housing markets globally, but that would definitely have to be an article all on its own 😉

  31. It’s amazing isn’t it. Sorry to hear about your friend. I think for the most part, Airbnb vets their properties. Hope they’re able to crack down on this somehow, but it seems almost impossible.

  32. Hey Brenda,

    As we caught it before going through to payment, I’m not exactly sure what the scammer would’ve done there. But the Huffington Post author who was scammed, wrote that she was actually made to wire money, which definitely would’ve tipped us off, but we know airbnb very well. Those who are new to the platform may have thought it was common practice.

  33. Exactly Carlos. There are ways to get around those censorships by writing out emails like nick at Goats On The Road dot com etc.

    But we were communicating via email after we found it on Craigslist, so our situation was different.

  34. Damn, that was close! I always use AirBnb but recently went on to instead because of the Genius discount. Anyway, thank you for the warning! I love, love, love reading your emails 🙂 They’re chock full of tips for my future travels and travel business ventures. Thank you Nick and Dariece and have fun wherever you two are!

  35. Hey Iris,

    Thanks so much for the comment and for subscribing to our newsletter Airbnb and are our two main booking sites. We really don’t use anything else. We use for flights and Car rentals and these two sites for acommodation. Never had an issue til now and it’s not Airbnb’s fault.

    Happy travels!

  36. Definitely a great tip! We’re doing that from now on. We should know that because we had to set up that little lock for this blog and it’s not easy!

    Thanks for reading

  37. Thanks for reading and commenting Chris! When used through the platform, Airbnb is great – it’s when you somehow get outside of it that things can go wrong, which they almost did for us. Thankfully we caught it in time. I think we were so fed up with searching for places to stay and we finally found one we liked, so we were a bit blinded by that to realize (at least RIGHT away) that it was a scam. Luckily, we’ve been on the real Airbnb enough times to know something was different…

    Happy travels!

  38. Wow… that’s a bit frightening… I recently booked an AirBnB and it’s got me thinking about that. I contacted the host on AirBnB first, and he replied and ‘pre-approved’ me to stay there – once I booked, I was in, that simple.

    However in the official AirBnB app my booking is showing up… so I’m assuming that seems legit. I wonder if there’s a way to check once you’ve booked…

  39. We experienced an Airbnb scam recently in Mexico. The house looked amazing, had great reviews, and a listing on Airbnb. But the homeowner said they were updating their Airbnb listing, so she only communicated with us via Facebook Messenger and email, including sending us a link to photos (I wondered why she didn’t send the Airbnb link). When she suggested payment in full via bank transfer or PayPal, we walked away.


    I have been looking for an apartment as I need to relocate to Cayman. I found a great advertisement, responded through the site and then commenced communication with the owner.

    After several emails, he sent me the airbnb link with the instructions to reserve for the days I need it (60 days) and thereafter I will have 5 days to cancel and get a full refund. but I had to book soon. I have been very sceptical as the rate was very good, so i googles “airbnb scam” .. .read your article. It led me to register with airbnb and hunt the contact us link to have the url checked. When I sent them the URL I got back this email in reply !!

    Syniah B, Mar 27, 14:21 PDT:
    Hi Celia,

    My name is Syniah, and I’m a Trust and Safety specialist at Airbnb.
    Thank you for notifying us of the messages you received!

    Although the emails/messages that you received were modeled to appear similar in style and format to official Airbnb communications, they were not sent or authorized by Airbnb. We urge you to delete the email without following its instructions or clicking any of the links it contained. If you did enter your login information, we ask that you please immediately check your account settings and change both your email and your Airbnb passwords (

    We’ve included a few tips below on how to keep your account secure. For a more complete list, be sure to visit our Help Center:

    1. Paying or communicating outside Airbnb makes it much harder for us to protect your information and puts your account security at risk. You should never receive a paper or PDF invoice from a host asking for payment. All legitimate payments on Airbnb take place on our website.

    When you book a reservation online with Airbnb, your payment is held for 24 hours after check-in. This allows you to ensure that there are no issues with the listing upon your arrival and to give you peace of mind during the booking experience.

    2. Be wary of phishing attempts. Phishing happens when a malicious third party—or “bad actor”—tries to trick you into giving them personal, sensitive information.

    A phisher might send you an email or message pretending to be from Airbnb that asks you to click on a link. When you click this link, you may be directed to a page controlled by the phisher where you’re asked to enter your login information. It may look very similar to Airbnb’s login page, but any information you enter here would be passed to the phisher instead.

    3. Look out for emails that have a false sense of urgency—for example, “Unless you click this link your Airbnb account will be disabled,” or “Your account has been compromised, click here to view details.” For tips on how to tell if an email is really from Airbnb, visit this Help Center article:

    Again, we are very sorry for this unsettling experience, as this is not what the Airbnb community is about. Please let us know if you have any additional questions or concerns – we’re happy to provide further information.

    Best regards,


  41. This really helpful. Thbak you!

    After booking my AirBnB. The host asked for my Email and asked to pay him Directly. It was a little bit off but reading this Article. I can contact AirBnB service about this and report it.

  42. Thanks so much for publicizing this!! May I suggest you point out that the giveaway was the first part of the url…which should have a forward slash (‘/‘) DIRECTLY AFTER the “”, which signifies the domain ( really IS what you expected.


    CORRECT: “….”
    SCAM: “….”

    I only point this out because it teaches people a general scam pattern, rather than specifically Airbnb. One could be scammed on an Amazon-appearing site, or VRBO-looking site, in short any site.

    I am in the habit of ALWAYS looking at the url before I pay for something. Everyone should be!

  43. Nick, I’m just getting to this article as it’s been an open tab on my phone since you published it. Ah well, our housesitting trsvels have been busy since then and now we’re settled in Belize for several months.
    Great article! I’m Pinning it and saving it for a possible backlink in one of our future blog posts.
    Safe travels to you and Dariece!

  44. we were nearly victims of this scam as well. my partner and i were looking to rent a flat in Lund, Sweden and got this reply from a landlord listed on bostadssurf. At first, it seemed like a good deal, however when he sent us the ‘airbnb link’ the URL was extremely dodgy albeit the site looked just like the air bnb site.

    Luckily all the red flags prevented us from losing money

    please read below and be warned:


    Thanks for your answer and i will gladly rent you the flat if we can reach an agreement. I had a tooth pulled out last week and after that I had surgery so I can not really speak over the phone, that is why I have listed my add without a phone number.
    I have 56 years old, I work as a lighting consultant and most of the time I’m on the road or visiting architects all around the world. Last months I started my new job and now i work in Gibraltar department because they have a new project here. I’m the owner of this apartment.
    The apartment is vacant so you can move-in anytime you want. The utilities (Internet, digital TV, 1 parking spots etc.) are included in the price of SEK 4700/month. Obviously we need a way to complete this deal, that will allow us to make sure we receive what we are after.
    Till a few months back I have rented the flat through Airbnb but it has been quite a hard time for me to come often and check everything. Unfortunately I do not have any friends or relatives in Sweden and last month I took 2 days off from my job and came to show the apartment to a person that was interested to rent it and when I arrived there he called me, and said that is no longer interested in my apartment. I have lost money and time. Since I would not like to waste time again for nothing, I will require a trial checking before deciding about the flat. You will book the flat for 1-2 days to check the apartment before deciding to rent the flat or not (the security deposit against damage which is required, will be either calculated as coverage for the rent or it is refunded after you check out). After you will check the apartment, if you decide to rent the flat I will personally come and make the arrangements with you (the tenancy contract will be made under Austrian law and regulations). If you agree I will enable my ad again on Airbnb so you can book it.

    PS: You will not pay for this days.

    Daniel Duvnjak

    Yes, you understand very well the process. Please let me know if you are decided to rent my apartment because Airbnb is charging me a hefty fee when I register our agreement and I really don’t want to pay them for nothing. I’ll wait for your reply soon.

    You can rent the apartment for as long as you want, even 2 or 3 years. I have enabled the link, so you can book the flat from here: Attraktiv 1,5 rums lägenhet belägen i Lund
    Please book the apartment starting from this weekend. Once you’ve completed the Airbnb steps, they’ll send you an invoice with your payment details and confirmation. I’ll wait for your reply


    please beware

  45. I fell for this scam just one week ago, 900€ lost, as a simple joung worker that were my savings of all a year, feel so dumb now, for me was like the woman you talk about, i was chatting with the “owner” so i didnt realice in time.

  46. Ah, man that’s too bad. Sorry Ed 🙁 That’s a lot of money to lose. I hope you are able to save up that money again and will end up having a more positive experience when booking through the real Airbnb.

    So many people get caught on this one. It’s a really clever scam and nobody would blame you for falling for it. I really hope you’re able to figure out a way to make the money back quickly. The people behind this scam have it coming to them! It’s so wrong.


  47. Thanks for the info. I was contacted yesterday by a guy claiming to have a 5-bedroom, 3-bathroom apartment in Den Haag in the Netherlands. The rent (all inclusive) was €1,100 per month! Too good to be true? It was. Initially we were very excited, as we have been looking for an apartment for some time, but his first mistake was contacting me directly on my person e-mail address, which I found strange. Then he told me that he and his wife had moved back to Germany to farm in Dachau. A very plausible story. He said he wanted long-term tenants that he could trust and asked me to tell him more about ourselves, which of course I did. He mentioned that he likes to work through AirBnB, which I also found strange, but it does have safety guarantees for landlords and tenants, so why not.

    I pressed to view the apartment, but he said we could view the place only after we had paid 3 rent instalments – ostensibly one month rent and two months deposit – via a link which he would give us, as his AirBnB listing was ‘in the background’ on the AirBnB site because it was a long-term rental. Thankfully we didn’t have the €3,300 he was asking for. He even said that we could negotiate a discount if we paid 6 months in advance! At this point all the warning bells were sounding and I started to put it together. This morning I sent his e-mail to AirBnB Safety and Security department and the came back pretty much immediately to warn against any further communications with the man.

    Let’s all be vigilant out there.


  48. Hi Everyone,

    I would like to share my experience too, as it happened yesterday.
    I was nearly there to be scammed of £1800, just like that.I m living in London and I was looking to rent a flat for a long term, and i ve found a very good offer on AirBnB. I have contacted the ” landlord’ and everything looked for real. The landlord told me that we have to chat via email as she is in Germany at the moment and her phone signal is not that good. I ve said , that s ok.
    Yesterday, she ( Fariza) emailed me a link which showed that it s connected to AirBNB, there i ve had the reservation confirmation and also the bank details as she has requested the deposit to be sent by bank transfer before sending me the contract and later the keys by DHL.
    I ve tried to call her on a mobile number which she provided before, and it was disconnected. I ve sent her an email asking why her number is not working and also requesting another number where i can call her.
    In the mean time i ve search on google an Airbnb contact number to confirm the authenticity of the receipt.
    It was quite difficult to reach them over the phone but not impossible. They have confirmed that they will never ask someone to make a bank transfer and that add it’s a scam.
    In the mean time i have received an email from Fariza ( landlord) saying that there is to much headache and she will look for another tenant and our agreement is not valid anymore.

    So i m so glad that i ve listened my gut and i ve made a detailed research about the provenience of the receipt and the authenticity of the website.

    I wish you all the best and i hope that my experience will be a red flag for others.

    Best regards

  49. im not a frequent user , and unfortunately i was scammed. so now i have no holiday house and no money to book another one. airbnb have so far not been much help . it did happen through their website but at some point it must have changed , i dont know where.
    i really hope they can help me out they must have some record of hosts and homes.
    i feel so cheated and i cant imagine ill feel comfortable to book anything with them again.

  50. I JUST fell for this scam. My husband and I are moving to Atlanta and was informed of everything described above; we paid $990, never got any communication afterwards to inspect the property, and later tried to pull up the Airbnb link the guy sent me and it no longer worked. Then I googled “Airbnb scam”, saw this article, and now I know what happened… 🙁 UGH

  51. Arrrghhhh! I’m so sorry to hear that 🙁 It’s so sad that there are people out there that would scam others. Hopefully you can help spread the word to your friends and family as well.

  52. Thanks for sharing, got to read this article after this ‘to good to be true’ apartment deal on a housing website and it helped me deciding against doing it and losing my money. Gonna try to keep him busy for a bit longer and have my fun with it :D.

    thanks guys

  53. Too late for me I am afraid, I have lost £5600, to exactly the same scam. Airbnb were disgusting, they didn’t want to know. Their last email said don’t contact us again, if you want to contact us you can do it through our lawyers. DO NOT USE THEM, THEY HAVE NO CUSTOMER SERVICE AT ALL. it’s a faceless company, and fraudsters are using its platform to steal millions of pounds of people’s hard earned money

  54. I’m sorry you lost that money, that’s awful. However, the REAL Airbnb website is 100% legitimate and we use it all the time. Just have to watch out for the fake, scam sites.

  55. Please forgive me (desperate times call for desperate measures)

    Hi guys,

    I think I might have fallen for an Airbnb scam but a bit different from this. I was contacted by one Michael Gordon ( to post an Airbnb listing. I had been searching online for a job in order to cater for some family emergencies and took a couple of such jobs on He gave instructions on what to do and i did all that, the ad was listed and i was receiving emails from Airbnb about requests (my employer had stated earlier that i do not respond to the requests when i asked him). Being new to Airbnb, I got really scared when i logged in today and my account had been locked and is under review. I received a mail from one Mr Jose, the Trust and Safety specialist at Airbnb. I went online to do some research about my interaction with the said Michael Gordon and it turns out to be a scam. I have being a part of a dubious scam and this is probably one of the worst feelings I’ve ever felt (honesty is my policy, getting something through dubious ways is not a part of me). I am sorry to all who have fallen for such scams. Thanks to Dariece for having such a keen eye and thanks to you Nick for writing this.

    Please be careful as well when offered jobs online. No matter what situation you’re going through, not having a keen eye for such scams can make it worse.

  56. Thank you so much! Someone is still running the same AirBnb scam in Porto. I thought it looked weird, but your post confirmed my suspicions!

  57. Thank you! It is probably thanks to your article that i didn’t lose 1200 euro, also to a scam for a flat in Lisbon. I got suspicious of the perfect english in all the references, and then found your article to find the flaws in the webpage that prove it all.

  58. This article literally saved us from getting scammed. We had almost the exact situation, but rent in Germany and the “girl” could speak Spanish fluently.

  59. We are searching for a flat in Italy and guess what? Someone is trying to “rent” us a beautiful flat insisting on doing so through “airbnb”.which, according to our scammer, is the safest way for both sides! He said he is in London, said they are a “respectable” family, lovers of nature and animals, a vet… said they owned this “property” in Italy but moved to London recently… I have never used Airbnb before so I wasn’t impressed when he asked me to “book” first so that he could come from “London” to show me the house and sign the contract I need. He even thanked me for my understanding! Who pays to view a flat which might not even exist? This scammer is out there right now hoping he has been able to convince me. He uses e-mail to communicate with me. He has sent me private photos of the flat. He has tailored the flat (in description, the pictures do not agree with the description) so that it fits my requirements… He uses the name Alfred Johnathan. He can correspond in Italian and English. His English is not flawless but it is very good. If it’s too good to be true, it means it isn’t true. Don’t fall for these scammers. They try to sweet talk you into their pit… And thank you for sharing your experience. I hope my experience helps others too.

  60. Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m so glad you didn’t end up losing any money. As you said, unless you go through the REAL website, and aren’t directed there by someone else, it’s going to be a scam. Unfortunately there are people like this in the world. Hopefully this article and people like you sharing your story can help to minimize the problems.

  61. For EVERYTHING you do online, always check that you are on an https: site and check the certificate before booking. That will resolve a lot of troubles.

  62. I literally almost got caught in this scam, until I noticed that the bank account details were addressed in Spain, while my booking was in Netherlands, and that the fake site’s drop down menu was just a fake image of a drop down menu that doesn’t work. So from there I put the url to the fake site that was sent to me into Google and found this article.

    Thank you for helping me save €2k from disappearing!

  63. Hello!

    Do you know of the website “”.

    Trying to find if it’s a legit one or no. There’s no mention of it on the internet (bad or good).

    Thank you!

  64. I was also just scammed by what was an exact replica of an airbnb website and URL. The flat was for a visit to Stockholm. Some of what would supposedly been ‘tell tail signs’ of the scam were undetectable to a first-time airbnb use – a longer-than-normal URL, a ‘live chat’, etc. Mine also originated from a craigslist search with the individual shifting to airbnb, which I saw as a positive indication of a reputable third party through which the transaction was allegedly going.

    I’ve since reported the scam to airbnb, my bank, Chase, the Stockholm police, craigslist. I will report it to media and other review sites, as well. This is clearly not a one-off experience and the perpetrators are good. Airbnb hasn’t even responded to the report I made to them.

  65. Here’s a new one on me: My airbnb host in Chiangmai, Thailand, from February, 2018, set up a fraudulent account on amazon using my name and shipped who knows how many items to their hotel using a fraudulent credit card in my name. I just discovered this in January 2018.

  66. Thanks for this article. I also have booked through Aribnb for the past 7yrs and also use the platform to host my own Airbnb, but my scam was even more evil.

    I actually booked through and there was a photo amongst the photos saying they were having trouble with their calendar and to email them to check it was all good. So I thought I should contact them and make sure in which they sent me a link to book. I was instructed to first cancel the then they would offer me 15% discount.

    I really didn’t suspect anything, however then it didn’t accept my payment and there was a message [which looked legit] with their bank details so I could pay through there. I really got to thinking and had tried to log into my account which it didn’t let me which was strange, they a few more things made me feel like this was a scam so I googled and found this article.

    So glad I didn’t go ahead
    Thank you

  67. BTW, I forgot to say, I also googled the images of the property and they wouldn’t come up, then looking closer at the photos of the property they were 3D model rendered images, the power points weren’t even the proper ones for Australia. The images were very good, but scary to think they looked so real, enough to get me in.

  68. The same thing happened to me for an apartment in Oxford. The guy said he was german; a Mattias Engelhardt and his airbnb page belonged to his wife: a Sara Engelhardt!!! totally familial and legit, right? and she had soooo many reviews too BUT when I clicked on the reviewer’s link to profile, I got redirected to Sara Engelhardt’s fake profile! and BAM I knew it was a scam and did not pay.

    But alas! for a friend of mine in Spain who was not as careful as you and I, poor her; she lost 1200 euros!!!she wanted to rent a place in Salamanca and even talked to the person on the phone! and fell for it and lost her money.

  69. Hello Nick, first of all thank you for the article that was very helpful. I also want to share my experience in Rome with a similar scam. Basically I found this apartment on the app called Badi and she told me to exchange my email address. Everything was normal as she sent me beautiful photos of her house stating that if I want to rent the house then the payment will be made through airbnb platform. It was when she sent me the invitation to the apartment and the link doesn’t start with www and it was airbnb.rooms-listing. It looks exactly like the real official website except that I can’t see the profiles of people who had reviewed the place. I also can’t go back to Airbnb’s homepage even by clicking on the Airbnb’s logo from the link. I tried to search for the apartment from the official real website and it was no where to be found.
    I almost clicked booking but then I found your article and for now I’m sure that it was a scam. Thank you very much for this article and I would like to share it on my personal facebook in order to gain awareness about this online fraud.

  70. I am literally sitting here in my truck after having an almost identical experience as Donna. Kind of in shock(my gut was telling me “red flags!”, i ignored). I just left my bank after unsuccessfully attempting to send a bank to bank wire transfer to a bank in UK, for an apt that is in Munich. I assumed it was probably a rental co with properties in different places. Well, the IBAN number wasnt working so as soon as I leff the bank, I emailed the alleged property owner. All of this correspondence was happening through email btw, not airbnb because of not being able
    To access calendar info.
    When the guy emailed me almost immediately after(there’s no way he’s corresponding that quickly as a middleman btwn the real airbnb and me) with the correct IBAN number in the instructions but different name, same address, different bank and numbers, I went to a nearby burger place to grab some food and do some googling. I found this blog. The link he had been sending with the invoice looked legit, even had the lock in the address looking secure and everything. NONE of the hyperlinks on the page which looked identical to airbnb’s site, were active links to anything. Also, the address to the property was listed, which as far as I understand wouldn’t have been disclosed until deposit had been made(?). I’ve used homeaway before but not airbnb, i remember I didnt get any of that info until the porperty owner recieved his deposit.

    I immediately emailed and cancelled the listing. So thankful for to you for writing this post and sharing your experience. I’m super PO’d by the realization that I almost fell for it and this trip isnt until october and it’s with 2 other friends of ours. We wouldn’t have figured anything out for months. My heart goes out to all who have been scammedout of their hard earned money.

    While I’m disappointed that the beautiful apt in munich doesnt exist, I’m glad I have another chance to find something real and I’m also going to be forwarding all the info to investigators. I’ e always had a pet peeve about being lied to or taken advantage of, and after being married to a law enforcement officer, I take this kind of stuff reeeaaallly personal. My tolerance for such behavior was at zero before, it’s zero on steroids, now.

  71. I am a bit particular about the security of websites, especially ones that involve monetary transaction. A big red flag for that fake website was it was a “http” not “https” (“s” means secure) which is weird for a big company like Airbnb.

  72. I am in the middle of a conversation with someone that is starting To smell funny.

    I started off by sending a request for an apartment I saw on a website and everything seemed legit. Also when you sent me an email and photos I didn’t remember seeing those photos. But the offer seemed very good and the apartment was excellent. That should’ve been my first red flag. The emails continued and the person offered to send me a link to his Airbnb website. I sent my phone number and asked to have a conversation, no call came but I got another email. They were asking for the month rent +2 months security deposit. That was my second red flag. I sent my phone number again, asked him to send me the link to the Airbnb website, and that I wanted to have a phone conversation before booking. Still no phone calls. The more this conversation by email proceeded, the more I smelled a scam. The person also indicated that they were not in the country and that they could be there in a couple days to give me the keys. Third red flag. Also said that I would have to pay the security deposit and that I would be refunded afterwards. I happen to know Airbnb does not do this. Last red flag. Needless to say I will not be booking, but your article was very helpful to confirm my suspicions. I am lucky I wasn’t taken in by the scammer. Buyer beware.

  73. Comment continued…

    But I know that Airbnb doesn’t do that. I am still waiting for the link to see if the URL is fake (which I am pretty sure it will be!) and still waiting for a phone call that will never come.
    I feel very lucky that I did not get taken in by the scammer. Trust your instincts and scrutinize everything. I am also a regular user of Airbnb, and almost got taken. Buyer beware.

  74. Thanks for the heads up about being scammed, BUT you are advising users to scam Airbnb, “Don’t fall for the Airbnb scam. Sign-up for (the real) Airbnb today and get $25 off your first booking. If you already have an account, no problem. Simply log-out and set up a new account using a new email to get the $25 credit.” Creating a duplicate account is against Airbnb’s Terms of Service, ” You may not register more than one (1) Airbnb Account unless Airbnb authorizes you to do so. You may not assign or otherwise transfer your Airbnb Account to another party.”. The first booking credit is supposed to be for the guests’ first booking.

    I also disagree with your advise to attempt to bargain with hosts. I decline bargain hunters. Once they ask me to lower my price they are unwelcome to stay at my listing at any price. Many other hosts agree. Bargain hunters tend to try to “get their money’s worth” by using more of the amenities than they need, asking for special favors (early check in, late check out, rides to where they want to go, etc.). They also tend you give less than five stars on value.

  75. The same thing happened to me with Mathias Engelhardt through RoomBuddies. Very clever but with the price of the apartment and the flexibility of his dates, it all just seemed too good to be true. There were some red flags so I did some digging and found this article, and I’m so glad I did. As soon as I have another reply from him I will be ready to rip his story to shreds!! Thank you for saving me £1660 goats!

  76. This has confirmed my suspicions that an apartment in London that I enquired about was a scam. It seemed incredibly cheap and I have to say that I was a bit suspicious, especially as there weren’t any reviews. However I put this down to the fact that it was a new listing and contacted the host. I had a very speedy reply asking me to email the host through an email address he provided so that he could send details of where to find the key, full address and more photos. This really aroused my suspicions and I replied asking him to send these details through Airbnb, knowing full well that check in details aren’t provided until booking is confirmed. Needless to say that I received no reply and I have reported the scam to Airbnb. What I couldn’t work out was what the scam worked so that you for shedding light on it.

  77. cheers for this. just got emailing a dude about a flat and thought it was fishy. googled “airbnb scam” and got to this article – it has summed this dude’s approach up exactly. good work, thank you.

  78. How is it possible for the poor lady to lose all her money on the scam? She didn’t try to call her bank to dispute it?

  79. Hmm.. such a sad article. I had a similar situation through craigslist in Orlando Florida, as they began to tell me it would be a long term stay. In the email they asked for my government name, when I want to move in and my whats app number (so we can speak directly). Long story short I was able to recover from it. How is it possible for the poor lady to lose all her money on the scam? She didn’t try to call her bank to dispute it?

  80. Better yet is don’t risk a penny a NEVER book through airbnb!!!!
    I was suspicious that something is wrong when you have to pay in advance without knowing anything about and where to claim, so, when they ask for a driver license I provide it but never complete the credit information.
    Assume airbnb is involved in this scam, because, otherwise they should have done something!!!
    airbnb is a scam. Period.
    Don’t risk your hard earned money.

  81. Airbnb is not a scam. It’s a legitimate booking platform, when booked directly through their website. We almost got scammed because we went with someone from outside of Airbnb – on Craigslist. Airbnb isn’t involved in the scam, but it’s really too bad when people fall for it 🙁

  82. thank you!!!! Your article just saved me from falling into a similar trap! Funny sometimes your gut is telling you something is fishy, glad I googled airbnb scams and your article came up. Really appreciate your warning to fellow travelers.

  83. Damn, I’m pretty good at avoiding online scams and most of the time the fake URLs scammers try to use look pretty fake to me, but that fake URL looks insanely real. Those new TLDs (such as .space) seem to have made it easier to make more realistic looking fake URLs like that. Thanks for the heads up! And I think it’s a good rule of thumb that if someone asks you to take your business outside of whatever website you’re on, they’re probably up to no good.

  84. I think this is happening to me right now. The person made an ad on kijiji and is asking for us to go through Airbnb. We are at the final stages now but he has not sent me a link or anything. I will be verifying this with Airbnb before I go ahead with any payment.

  85. Craig’s List is the first mistake. And as a Airbnb host I would not let someone into my property and then issue a full refund via Airbnb if they didn’t like it. I don’t want to lose the money without any notice. Those are two red flags right there. Third red flag: you couldn’t find the apartment on Airbnb but the host sent you a link anyway? That’s unusual. And of course addresses are never revealed until payment is confirmed. I have to send the address. Airbnb doesn’t send it for me.

  86. I have had 2 people trying this scam on me looking for apartments in Sevilla. Luckily I sensed something fishy but couldn’t work out what the scam was. Now I know what it is after reading your article. Phew i’m Glad I didn’t get any further with either of them.

  87. Hi,
    I found an apartment in the States on Craigslist and contacted the owner. He told me he had recently moved to Europe with his family because he had a new job there and it was to last for 3 years. Therefore he wanted to rent his apartment in the States. He said he would rent it through Airbnb. He also wrote in slightly strange-worded English, as if he was from Russia or something. I was unable to drive by or view the property because I live a few states away from him. So he told me that all I need to do is send him my driver’s license info, telephone number, number of people staying in the apartment, etc. Then he said he would post his apartment on Airbnb and send me the link where I could then pay for it. He said on the agreed-upon beginning date and time of rental, I should be at the address of the apartment and an Airbnb representative would be there, would give me the keys and let me into the apartment. Then, if it didn’t look like the photos or I didn’t like it, I could get my money back within 24 hours.

    I’ve never used Airbnb before, but this all seemed a little strange. First, he wouldn’t answer some simple questions I asked like which direction does the apartment face and what floor is it on. Next, when I looked at the building on Google maps, the windows on the building looked different than the windows in the photos he sent me. I mean it’s possible the building could have been updated and the photos on Google maps are often ten years old, but this was an eight-story office-type building with sophisticated gigantic windows which would require a lot of money and effort to re-do.

    I called Airbnb and asked if they know this guy, if he’s a scammer or what. They couldn’t give me that info as a protection for their clients but when I told them this story, they said they NEVER provide an Airbnb representative on behalf of the owner who meets the renter, gives him the keys and opens the apartment for him. I was so incredulous that I asked her 3 times in different ways if I was understanding her correctly and could she please repeat it. She repeated it and kindly advised me to avoid getting ripped off by this person. Whew that was a close call. Buyer beware.

  88. As I type I am in a gmail exchange with a guy that found out I was searching for apartments and says he has a suitable Airbnb apartment.
    How odd.
    Will check how far this goes.

  89. I am a victim of the same scam. I lost AED 14.000, which is approx. EUR 3.500. It happened for an apartment in Dubai. My bank will not help, since I shared the card details. I fear the money is gone 🙁

  90. I’m currently going through this! I had a feeling it was a scam but continued to investigate because I was interested to see how far he’d go. I went as far to call the realtor who had a sign on the building from several months ago because it was way too cheap for this area. Here is the most important parts of our emails:

    “Thank you for your reply. The place is still available for rent and to move in right away. I want to tell you that i want to use Airbnb services For this long term rental. They will be in charge of everything (viewing, lease sign, maintenance, repairs etc), so both of us are safe and secure. I prefer this way since we dont live in the US anymore and we really want to find someone to rent this place for long term. We are relocating in Spain and we want to remain here in Spain for undetermined time(our daughter lived in the place for about 2 years). If you wish to continue, i will need your full name so i can start the transaction and Airbnb will contact you with all the steps and instructions you need to follow in order to view the property and sign the lease.

    More details, rent price is $1,000 monthly with all everything included(electricity, parking, water, cable, internet). Also, it can be rented furnish or unfurnished and you would be allowed to bring your own furniture. The price is for the whole place and this is not a shared rental meaning that you are going to rent for yourself and not sharing with strangers.”

    Long story short, before even reading this I opened the link he sent me and it seemed strange much like the web page you were sent to. My first suspicion was that whenever I would look for the listing through Air Bnb it wouldn’t come up. Then when he sent me the link the home button in the upper left corner of the site that sends you back to the main page did not work! Bummed but definitely not going to push it any further. Glad you posted something because it helped me feel sure I was making the right decision instead of losing out on an opportunity!

  91. Was scammed in the UAE with a similar story: ex-pat owner, sophisticated site, unorthodox “chat” to verify payment, and then no more responses. I cancelled payment and am hoping for the best.
    Note to self: don’t be an idiot!

  92. Glad to hear you didn’t get scammed! That’s how they get you – the place is way too good to be true, so you feel like you should jump at the opportunity. Good thing you listened to your intuition.

  93. Thank you so much for the info, you just confirmed my suspicions. On the fake link I had to pay by card, but the money didn’t go through, that was the moment I got lucky. Then they sent me an invoice, and I noticed that a receiver is a physical person, not Airbnb. Also, the email was sent from, which is not the official email of Airbnb. And, yes, they gave the address straight away and were in a rush to receive the money, even if there could not be any rush at all…

  94. Hi Shaun,

    I’m sorry to hear that happened – these scammers are pros at what they do, so don’t feel dumb. Unfortunately, it happens to many people 🙁

    I would recommend reporting it to Airbnb so they are aware of it.

    All the best.

  95. I almost fall into this scam. I was looking for a RV for rent on and found this perfect RV but when I scrolled the pics that says contact to this address for more info as soon as when I sent an email I received a response very quickly. She sent me an link so I could finalize the pmt. But somehow the website wont allow to go to other options and asked me to pay with Im euro which was so weird to me. And I went back to the link and I noticed it was a scam.

  96. Thanks for sharing this! I came across your website when I was researching two different apartment rentals in Nuremberg, Germany that said they wanted to book via airbnb (but I never saw their listings on the actual airbnb site). I also became suspicious when their response emails were identical, but with different email addresses and names (both lived outside of Germany too so you couldn’t visit the apartment). Coincidentally, the monthly rents were also EUR 650 – similar to yours!

  97. Your article just saved me from this scam! I was just about to book for the first time via a link sent to me through email communications with the “host”
    I was not too convinced since the host was acting weird and made the booking process seem “urgent”
    I decided to search the official Airbnb website and could not find anything related to the seemingly “confirmed” instant booking. Googled for Airbnb scams and then came across your article.
    My Mcafee antivirus as well blocked me from accessing the link after the first try.
    A normal person can easily fall victim to this.

    Thanks for saving my cash and my credit card history!

  98. Thank you Nick for sharing your experience about this.
    I also almost fell for it when searching for an apartment in Berlin.
    The only difference is, the scamer even sent me a photo of him holding his passport. Othe MO are same like in your experience.
    I will send the link to Airbnb.
    Thanks a thousand. I almost lose 500€/month plus 1,000€ deposit.

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