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how to avoid them and what to look out for

Fake pictures overselling the standard of the accommodation was the second most common issue, followed by account hackings, where fraudsters seize a customer’s account to make and pay for a booking.

Rarer scams included false damage claims, invented fees, fake listings and fake reviews.

Is my Airbnb a scam?

Luckily, there are ways of detecting trouble on rental websites. Be wary of the any listi

  • Properties with low or no reviews. Whilst the property may be new, it may also be a scam. Check to see if the owner has other properties listed with good or bad reviews or if it has previous listings on other sites
  • Requests for cash payments, bank transfers or even payments in cryptocurrencies. This is a tell-tale sign of a scam. There are no good, legitimate reasons for side-stepping the website’s payment systems
  • Listings sent by email. These sometimes lead to cloned websites which look like a genuine rental website but are not
  • Another tell-tale sign of a scam is a listing with the owner’s contact details. This may be sold as an attempt to dodge the website’s fees, saving you both money. But it will also void any guarantees or protections you would have received and you will be on your own if you lose your cash
  • Amazing deals. There will be a good reason it is this cheap, and it will not be a happy one
  • Familiar-looking listings. If the flat, cottage or house is listed more than once, at least one of the listings could be a scam

How to avoid an Airbnb scam

Any amount of suspicion should probably mean aborting a booking. Being suspicious, going ahead, getting scammed and losing money will not feel good

Instead, report suspicious listings to the website in question.

If you must, a little detective work can help confirm your suspicions. Try a reverse image search of the pictures. If they exist elsewhere on the same website, a scam is afoot. Have a look at the address using Google Street View. Does it match?

Naturally, guests are not the only victims of these scams and hosts can also lose out. Owners have reported thefts and had guests use their properties as party venues whilst with stolen credit cards. Hosts have also complained about guests blackmailing them for good reviews.

Airbnb said customers should “never wire money, provide credit card details or otherwise pay a host directly for a stay, and to report isolated incidents to us.”

The firm added: “We provide information on why you should only pay and communicate through Airbnb, and what to do if asked to pay off platform. Our secure messaging tool enables users to contact each other with any questions prior to booking a stay.”

The company withholds payment until 24 hours after check-in time, it said.

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