Europe

Tourist scammed of nearly $1,200 by phony Airbnb listing in Amsterdam

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A woman has spoken of her horror after she was scammed out of £915 ($1,180) for a holiday getaway through Airbnb.

Georgia Brown said she had never used the online rental marketplace before, but was delighted when she found the perfect spot to celebrate her boyfriend’s birthday in Amsterdam in October this year.

After contacting the Airbnb host, the 20-year-old said she was asked to transfer the £915 ($1,180) payment to a bank account for the three-night stay at the four bedroom home.

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But after receiving a confirmation email, the young woman called Airbnb to confirm – only to be told the email address was not an official address.

Quickly calling her bank Santander in a desperate attempt to stop the payment from going through, Georgia has now slammed Airbnb for not sharing enough warnings about scammers on the site.

She told The Sun Online: “When I signed up, there were not terms and conditions that told you about the site.

“I was reading through the description of the place and it said to book, please send through a query through this email address – it all seemed really friendly and he said they had availability.”

Checking the accommodation with the friends she would be traveling with, Georgia got the contact details for the owner, confirmed the dates and paid the money.

She said: “Because I hadn’t used it before, I presumed people advertised on there and then you make payments to them directly.

“After I paid them, I thought, I’ll just check and I went on the Airbnb website. It took me a good half an hour to find anything about payments and it said that they should all be made through the website.

“I called my bank straight away and explained, and they said they’ll do everything we can.”

But the young legal secretary said she was disgusted by Airbnb’s response, saying: “All I got was a ‘Oh no, Georgia, you shouldn’t have done that’.

“They shouldn’t have had the advert on their website in the first place.”

She said the advertisement told people looking at the rental that they would need to bank transfer the funds to the agent’s account, saying that Airbnb should police the advertisements better.

The young Essex woman is now fighting to get her money back, with the scammer since contacting her and asking for more details – leaving her hopeful that they still have not received the money and she will be able to get it back.

She said: “I want to make more people aware – Air BnB is massively advertised, they want everyone to think their website is the safest.

“In fact, by not having warnings about scammers they are putting a lot of people at risk.

“I’m not stupid, I can spot things like this but it looked so legitimate.

“Airbnb preach about how they do all of these checks on the hosts, then how can something like this happen.”

The Sun Online has since tried to contact the host but the number was disconnected.

An Airbnb spokesman said: “Fake or misrepresented listings have no place in our community and our team is working hard to constantly strengthen our defenses and stay ahead of fraudsters.

“We just introduced new security tools to help tackle fake listings and educate our community about staying safe online, including more warnings.

“The most important thing to know is as long as you stay on the airbnb.com platform and only send money through Airbnb, you will always be protected. There have been over 160 million guest arrivals on on Airbnb and bad experiences are extremely rare.”

The listing has since been removed from Airbnb.

A Santander bank spokesperson said: “Our customer, Georgia Brown found a holiday property on Airbnb and sent an email to somebody she believed was the owner of the property.

“A return email was received purportedly from Airbnb confirming beneficiary account details. Miss Brown then sent a payment of £913 to the bank account provided by the third party.

“She has since discovered this is a scam and funds were not sent to Airbnb.

“Santander were in contact with Miss Brown from the day of the transaction to start the process to try and recover the funds from the recipient bank. However, as the funds were sent overseas it can take up to 90 days to get a response.”

Story first appeared in The Sun.