In September, we wrote about using Airbnb to book places on our travels. So it was somewhat ironic when last week a knock on the door of our Airbnb cottage revealed a young man on the porch with several pieces of luggage who said that he was ready to move in. Uh-oh. Fortunately, because we booked through Airbnb, we were fine; unfortunately for him, he had been scammed.
He had found the cottage on Craigslist at a monthly rate that was half what we were paying. Too good to be true? As it happens, yes. That listing included the same description and photos as those on the (legitimate) Airbnb listing, but the contact information was different. He had signed a lease and mailed the contact a deposit check for $500. A quick call to our Airbnb host confirmed it was a scam — her Airbnb listing had been "scraped," with a fake ad posted on Craigslist lying in wait for an unsuspecting soul. Our Airbnb host confirmed that had happened before; she's tried hard to stop the scammers, but they remove the fake internet listing before police can take action.
There are several lessons here. Following is our checklist for avoiding vacation rental scams:
Vacation rentals are a fabulous lodging alternative when traveling. However, the internet makes it easy for scammers to create false listings. Don't be that guy stuck out on our porch. Always do your due diligence, particularly when the property or price seems too good to be true.