Airbnb Falls Victim to URL Spoofing

Since Airbnb’s launch in 2008, it has quickly become a preferred alternative for lodging over the traditional hotel room. In 2017, the company’s revenue reached over $1 billion — making it a popular target for scammers. Consumers have reported falling victim to Airbnb scams and losing thousands of dollars with no hope of reimbursement.

How the Scam Works:

The consumers’ journey began by visiting the Airbnb website, finding an apartment or house they wanted to rent, then noticing the host asks that any questions be directed to an email address listed in the description. The consumer leaves the Airbnb platform to contact the host via personal email instead of through the website. Once contact is made, the scammer states that the property is not available for the stated dates but offers a similar property with a link attached. The link is to a spoofed Airbnb site that looks almost identical to the official, with the “About” page even linking to the real page’s “About us” page. If the consumer has questions, there is a live chat option (which is not offered on the official site). Once the consumer has decided to rent the property, they are prompted to wire money and are never contacted again.

Consider the following tips before booking an Airbnb:

  1. Never wire money outside of the Airbnb platform. The host might offer a special discount if you bypass making payment via the website. Airbnb has set up online payment to help protect both the renter and host. As soon as a renter wires money outside of Airbnb, the company is no longer liable.
  2. Watch out for lookalike URLs. A company’s website can easily be spoofed to mimic the official one, apart from an added character, letter, or symbol. Be sure to carefully check the web address before filling out your payment method. A secure URL should always begin with “https://”.
  3. Look for a superhost. Being a superhost means that you have consistently received high reviews from previous renters. Airbnb defines a superhost as having the following: 10 completed trips in a year, 90% response rate or higher, 80% of reviews are 5 stars, and rarely canceling confirmed reservations.

Source: Huffington Post, The Online Citizen, and Airbnb

As with all reputable online marketplace, stay on the website to complete the transaction. Don’t be tempted by discounted prices to pay outside the marketplace.

For more tips on how to avoid Airbnb scams, visit the original article Six Tips to Protect Yourself from Airbnb Scams. To report a scam, go to the BBB Scam Tracker. To find trustworthy businesses, go to https://www.bbb.org