How to protect yourself against the Airbnb scam that got my friend

Airbnb has enabled countless great travel experiences, but it’s also seen its share of controversy, including recently. Stories of hidden cameras in Airbnbs inspired this tip on how to search an Airbnb (or anywhere) for a hidden camera—and the same week we ran that tip, my good buddy Lee Abbamonte shared an alarming story of an Airbnb scam he fell victim to in Madrid.

Basically, Lee and his two friends had a nice long weekend and left their Airbnb with no issue. Then, Lee writes, he got “a frantic email from a woman claiming to be the owner of the apartment. The very angry, accusatory email stated that [Lee and his friends] basically vandalized the apartment and she was claiming an outrageous $6000 in damage.”

In his post Lee walks through the three specific complaints made against him and his friends and why they were unfounded, but his case wasn’t enough. After a back-and-forth with an Airbnb mediator, he got an email “saying that they had ruled in favor of the host and she was eligible for additional payment. [The Airbnb rep] continued that [Lee] would not be charged but [his] account has been notated for future discipline if anything else happens.”

The full post is worth reading and remembering the next time you use Airbnb (it’s worth noting that Lee had only used Airbnb once before, so he didn’t have a history of good reviews to help his case). Most of all, as Pete Halvorsen tweeted, it’s a “good reminder to photo document your Airbnbs when you check out. Otherwise you’re at the mercy of possible scams like this one.” As with a rental car, a simple photo can end up saving you if someone tries to take advantage of you.

What’s been your Airbnb experience? Have you ever been scammed? Please share in the comments!



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3 Comments On "How to Protect Yourself Against the Airbnb Scam That Got My Friend"
  1. Robin|

    We’ve stayed in numerous airbnb properties in the U.S. and abroad. Never had any problems.

  2. Dale Bauer|

    Wow! never have used an ABNB and less likely to after reading this crazy charge against the client. I agree with taking photos prior to departing. seems like there should be a walk through with the owner prior to departure. I will think twice before I enter into a ARBNB contract. thanks for the information.

  3. Izy|

    I have been using AirBnb when we do vacations and I always make it a point to take a picture of when checking in and checking, well because I blog them and share it on my SNS accounts. I didn’t know it will be helpful in more ways just in case I encounter something like this in the future!

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