As the owner of a holiday company, I really hate hearing stories of guests who have been scammed with a fake holiday or fake AirBnB listing, losing their money and not having the holiday they thought they had booked. It must be awful when you have been looking forward to something for so long, as well as parting with a considerable amount of money, to then discover that you have lost your money, and the holiday you were so looking forward to. Not only this but it is so damaging to the holiday rental industry which is made up of so many small companies like us, providing an honest service but finding ourselves having to defend our business and our legitimacy.
I am familiar with stories in the press of it happening in cities like Barcelona and elsewhere in Spain, but I didn’t really think the scammers would make it Praia del Rey. Well, this week a guest who has booked a beautiful villa got in contact to say he had been talking to his brother in law telling him about their upcoming holiday. The brother in law had said he had seen an amazing villa on AirBnB and lo and behold, it was the villa the guest had booked! Only this villa was being advertised by ‘Fernanda, a dentist from Lisbon’! I couldn’t believe it, they had copied the photos from our website and set up a fake listing! As I looked at it I panicked: could people have already ‘booked’ with ‘Fernanda’ and lost money? As I explained to the guest what had happened, I thought, how is someone to know this is a fake AirBnB listing? Well these are the things to look out for:
Do they have any reviews? This show previous guests have stayed with them before. Be suspicious of no reviews. Do they have other properties listed? If it is a scam it is unlikely they will link other properties to their profile. What is their verification? AirBnB ask for various methods of verification. ‘Fernanda’ only had a mobile number and an email verified. Anyone can set up a mobile and email address. Look for social media channels and a LinkedIn profile. When was the listing set up? Look for longevity. If the profile was recently set up, be aware. Lastly contact the host. Ask them about the property, the location, the facilities. A genuine host will be able to give you informed responses.
If it is too good to be true, it probably is!
I had to google this as I couldn’t find it anywhere on the AirBnB site: On the listing you can flag it with ‘Report this listing’. You can also send a private message to @AirbnbHelp, they say they will respond within 24 hours. I did both of these things and I am glad to say that the fake AirBnB listing featuring our property photos is now no longer on the site.
The important thing to remember is to apply common sense checks when you are looking for a holiday, and if you think a listing is fake, whatever website you are looking at, and a number of these pointers don’t ring true, then don’t book!