One Which? member contacted us to tell about a crafty bank-transfer scam he fell victim to when trying to book a holiday letting on Airbnb for a trip to Paris.
Which? member Amit told us: ‘I’ve fallen victim to a fake listing on Airbnb. The Paris apartment included an image stating that we’d need to get in touch with the owner to confirm available dates. I emailed the owner, who confirmed the apartment was available.
‘Afterwards, I received an email, which appeared to be from Airbnb, with bank-transfer details. I transferred the money and the owner confirmed he had received the funds. Soon after, the property was no longer listed on the website.
‘I got in touch with Airbnb, which clarified that the booking reference number was invalid and said it was unable to offer any further help.
‘I’ve since noticed the scammer continuing to operate on Airbnb under a different name with the same pictures of the same property. What can I do?’
Our advice on using Airbnb safely
We’ve heard of several cases of fake listings on direct-from-owner booking sites. Airbnb will refund customers if the property they booked was misrepresented, or even worse, doesn’t exist. Airbnb will also help you to find alternative accommodation.
However, if you transfer funds outside of its website, you don’t get any of these protections and unfortunately there’s nothing you can do to get your money back. It’s important to never pay for holiday accommodation by bank transfer.
It’s important to never pay for holiday accommodation by bank transfer.
Airbnb provide the facilities to make payments on their website and advise that offline or cash payments are a violation of their Terms of Service. We’re currently investigating what Airbnb is doing to prevent fake listings from appearing on its website.
If you’ve fallen victim to a similar holiday accommodation scam, let us know in the comments below.