Desperate times call for desperate measures and scammers smell blood in the Airbnb Hosting waters. In the face of mass cancellations, panic has swept across the STR community as hosts struggle to pay mortgages, rent, and other expenses.
For scammers, it’s an opportunity to lure their prey into a trap while they’re most vulnerable. Here is one example:
Hello! Due to the situation in the region, I was sent from my firm as a disease specialist to your country. I really liked your apartment, it seems really cozy. It will be very convenient for me. I’m already waiting for this trip. But I have a couple questions. Please contact me in VVh * aaats a-p number plusš F0-ur, tvvo and zeee ro, then sееve’ntys even, then goes ‘3’, 0n=e, f I’ve and оо n e th3rrеё, ends with niiñe eigght’t. Thank you in advance!
I received this scam message 20+ times in the matter of 30 minutes. Whether that’s a spambot gone wild, their spam algorithm needs adjustment, or they’re punishing me for reporting them as spam- I’m not sure. But getting flooded with messages, texts, and e-mails for new booking inquiries every couple minutes has wreaked havoc on an otherwise peaceful Sunday.
I’m not the problem, though. The problem is the unsuspecting hosts that don’t see a scam: they see an opportunity to escape their dire straits. They might just message these scammers on WhatsApp. And I’m sure some scheme to with direct payments, bank accounts, checks, and perhaps a Nigerian prince will unfold.
The more tech savvy may say, “They get what they deserve,” since the host is complicity in circumventing Airbnb’s hosting rules. That’s a fair point- I always keep my Airbnb conversations within Airbnb for a wide variety of reasons. That doesn’t forgive the fact that Airbnb has a population of hosts that are more vulnerable, less aware, and extremely desperate right now.
Unfortunately you cannot bulk select Airbnb inquiries so that you can mass report them as spam. After submitting many of them manually, I gave up, contacting Airbnb support and asking them to resolve the issue.
Airbnb support had 2 ideas for me:
- Have you already tried reporting the profile account of the person sending you messages? Uhh.. yes.. did you even read my message? I’m getting spammed faster than I can report them.
- Thank you for that information. I’m forwarding you to the correct department right now, to make sure you receive a prompt and proper response. Okay… thanks… I will just wait here infinitely with no responses or help.
And that’s it. I haven’t heard back since. My inbox is still flooded with spam. They keep coming in. It’s irritating for me, but again, the real problem is that spammers and scammers are running rampant on Airbnb and the company cannot keep up with the influx of incoming messages.
PLEASE SHARE THIS WITH FELLOW HOSTS AND ASK THEM TO REPORT ALL SUSPICIOUS INQUIRIES AND MESSAGES AS SPAM! If anyone is asking you to communicate outside of the Airbnb app, especially on the first message, it is 100% spam and needs to be reported immediately.