Not even an epidemic will stop the scammers

The other day I got a request to book my Airbnb spare room. I had completely forgot that I had blocked it out for my holiday to South Korean and Japan, which were cancelled. But hadn’t done anything after those dates, not really thinking my airbnb was still technically open.

The message was a mess…

Hello! Due to the situation in the country, I was sent from my company as a nurse to your city. I really liked your place, it seems really nice. It will be very suitable for me. I’m already waiting for this trip. But I have a couple questions. Please text me in Vhat is a * pp number + F0-ur, tvvo and z-еrrо, then sееve’ntys even, then goes tth_ree, 1’ 5” and 0ne, thre;e, ends with 98. See you soon!

Of course I could smell a scam from a mile away and responded, why don’t you ask the questions you have in Airbnb chat? Then added its lockdown in the UK and I won’t be taking any guests till things change with Covid19.

No reply of course and I rejected the request. But a week later airbnb contacted me.

Hi, Ian,

We’re reaching out because you were recently in contact with an account that was removed for violating the Airbnb Terms of Service.

Airbnb will never ask you to verify a listing or pay for anything outside of our site, through email, or through a third-party booker. If you sent money outside of Airbnb, you may have paid for a fraudulent reservation. Let us know what happened, and we’ll recommend next steps.

If someone asked you to communicate directly by email or through Facebook, or copy and paste a URL (http://www…) into a new browser window, or otherwise pay or communicate outside of the Airbnb website or app, we ask that you stop communication with them immediately.

If you did share personal information, like a password, please update your password immediately. If you use that same password for any other accounts (like your email), we recommend changing your password there too.

Of course I shared zero but I did find it interesting the scammer pulled on the strings with some urgency and being a nurse. Of course they had only signed up to be on Airbnb that same Month of April (meaning they had only signed up a few days before), had no vertifications, no reviews and the pretext of whatsapping them was straight from the airbnb scammers book.

I imagine there is a lot of desperate Airbnb hosts who might have sent a message to see whats possible?

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.