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AirBnB scam - vice article


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I won't stay at an airBnB or VRBO rental where the owner has ever cancelled a reservation in the past.  Who knows, maybe the cancellation was legitimate and I am overreacting, but you are playing such a weak hand when a host cancels and you're stuck.  I've seen rentals offered with 10 reviews and 2 mentions of host cancellations - ain't no way I'm signing up, you know they will sell you out for a better private offer in a heartbeat.

 

 

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I won't stay at an airBnB or VRBO rental where the owner has ever cancelled a reservation in the past.  Who knows, maybe the cancellation was legitimate and I am overreacting, but you are playing such a weak hand when a host cancels and you're stuck.  I've seen rentals offered with 10 reviews and 2 mentions of host cancellations - ain't no way I'm signing up, you know they will sell you out for a better private offer in a heartbeat.

Whatever the reason, a host that cancels is unreliable and I would never book. But if someone gets a couple of positive reviews, then you book, and then the cancellations that showing in their reviews, nothing you can do...

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Hey all:

 

It could be that if you do a charge back on AirB&B, you might get suspended or kicked out of the system.

 

If somebody uses frequently or relies on AirB&B for business travel, they may simply take their lumps with a bad/fraudulent rental rather than risk getting thrown out of the system.

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Why can't you do a credit card charge back?

I bet you can, but most honest people wouldn't do that. Keep in mind though that you're effectively charging back Air BNB. Just because you charge it back doesn't mean that you don't owe money anymore.

 

There's nothing dishonest about doing a charge back if someone agrees to provide a service and then doesn't provide the service as promised.  Even if Airbnb eats the charge-back, it's not dishonest, since they've also failed to provide the service they promised (i.e. connect the buyer who provides the room listed on the site.)

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Why can't you do a credit card charge back?

I bet you can, but most honest people wouldn't do that. Keep in mind though that you're effectively charging back Air BNB. Just because you charge it back doesn't mean that you don't owe money anymore.

 

I would request a refund in a heart  beat in this situation. I use Amex for most purchases where I don’t know the vendor well and they are very good about getting you your money back; a simple phone call will do. If AirBnb would throw me out so be it. My wife can sign up for a new account if I really think I need it, or I go to VRBO.

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Why can't you do a credit card charge back?

I bet you can, but most honest people wouldn't do that. Keep in mind though that you're effectively charging back Air BNB. Just because you charge it back doesn't mean that you don't owe money anymore.

 

I would request a refund in a hard beat in this situation. I use Amex for most purchases where I don’t know the vendor well and they are very good about getting you your money back; a simple phone call will do. If AirBnb would throw me out so be it. My wife can sign up for a new account if I really think I need it, or I go to VRBO.

 

Yeah, I don't know what's dishonest about this either. If you get cheated, the credit card is there for recourse.

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Why can't you do a credit card charge back?

I bet you can, but most honest people wouldn't do that. Keep in mind though that you're effectively charging back Air BNB. Just because you charge it back doesn't mean that you don't owe money anymore.

 

You can, and they're a major issue for peer-to-peer marketplaces since the marketplace itself is paying the full amount of the charge back while only taking in a % of the transaction as a commission. So one charge back eats up the profit from 10 or more real transactions.

 

I own a peer-to-peer marketplace site as a side business and you'd be amazed at the various scams I've heard of from others who run sites.

 

The most common is stolen credit cards, either using them to book services directly through the site or more complex, using them to make cash with the card. Users can create listings and then create separate profiles to book them with the stolen cards. When the card's owner sees it they issue a charge back which the site then has to pay in full and the user who received the money has already disappeared.

 

There are also dishonest legitimate users who will try to get their money back with a charge back on top of legitimate situations like in the article so filtering out who's who in such situations isn't easy for the platform.

 

For smaller startups it's a real issue because they just don't have the budget to cover thousands in charge backs. Here's a twitter thread where the owner of a marketplace startup for musicians booking studios provides some data from his Stripe account into just how common this type of fraud is on their marketplace.

 

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I realize that this would be difficult for a small company.  But you'd think a company the size of airbnb would have a fraud department which would look into hosts accused of defrauding them by guests.  Certainly after multiple guests accuse the same host.  Algorithms could also have found that the same pictures were being used by two different hosts in their listings (in the article) and one was leaving reviews for the other.  As a new airbnb host myself this makes me a little angry that airbnb doesn't do a better job weeding out the fraudsters that make the whole system less trustworthy.  I'm sure many unhappy victims of fraud won't even consider using airbnb at all afterwards.

 

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It's also a plague to Amazon and Ebay. Those companies, Amazon in particular, are much better-suited to reimbursing for scams.

 

However fraud is the definition of the cost-center. It is perennially under-allocated resources and it is most overlooked.

 

Fraud models are somewhat helpful but it is much easier for individual scammers to one-up fraud models than it is for global companies to re-calibrate or re-develop these models and roll them out across their entire enterprise. (Reminds me of the "doping" scandal in sports in that way).

 

It is interesting because in the case of fraud, many times the only thing maintaining an active fraud department at a global institution is regulators. I'll speak for the finance industry as that is what I know. Consumer fraud is taken as a BIG DEAL at banks not because of the cost of the transaction - that is usually a minor amount to reimburse. The problem is that when regulators see you have a series of fraud incidents, they will come down on you like an old testament plague. This incentives the banks to really get their act together. Most banks will have 5-10 fraud scores running concurrently, many are product-specific. And provide extensive training to customer-facing employees.

 

Of course this encourages economies of scale because it is difficult to spread these costs over a small customer base. But, over millions the incremental cost per customer is almost non-existent, but it provides a great value. This is one case where regulation + industry concentration actually provides a positive cost-benefit to the customer.

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It's also a plague to Amazon and Ebay. Those companies, Amazon in particular, are much better-suited to reimbursing for scams.

 

However fraud is the definition of the cost-center. It is perennially under-allocated resources and it is most overlooked.

 

Fraud models are somewhat helpful but it is much easier for individual scammers to one-up fraud models than it is for global companies to re-calibrate or re-develop these models and roll them out across their entire enterprise. (Reminds me of the "doping" scandal in sports in that way).

 

It is interesting because in the case of fraud, many times the only thing maintaining an active fraud department at a global institution is regulators. I'll speak for the finance industry as that is what I know. Consumer fraud is taken as a BIG DEAL at banks not because of the cost of the transaction - that is usually a minor amount to reimburse. The problem is that when regulators see you have a series of fraud incidents, they will come down on you like an old testament plague. This incentives the banks to really get their act together. Most banks will have 5-10 fraud scores running concurrently, many are product-specific. And provide extensive training to customer-facing employees.

 

Of course this encourages economies of scale because it is difficult to spread these costs over a small customer base. But, over millions the incremental cost per customer is almost non-existent, but it provides a great value. This is one case where regulation + industry concentration actually provides a positive cost-benefit to the customer.

 

I am pretty sure that fraud is pretty low on the totem pole of priories for startups in the land grabbing phase like Airbnb. I am sure they can solve it, but this is probably reserved for later.

 

For credit cards, I found Chase and Amex to be very good at fraud detection. In two cases, my wife’s Chase card was apparently skimmed and used for a small test charge (~$1), which they immediately detected as a fraud, despite the fact that it was done in relative proximity to our home location. Same with Amex in one incidence.

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It's also a plague to Amazon and Ebay. Those companies, Amazon in particular, are much better-suited to reimbursing for scams.

 

However fraud is the definition of the cost-center. It is perennially under-allocated resources and it is most overlooked.

 

Fraud models are somewhat helpful but it is much easier for individual scammers to one-up fraud models than it is for global companies to re-calibrate or re-develop these models and roll them out across their entire enterprise. (Reminds me of the "doping" scandal in sports in that way).

 

It is interesting because in the case of fraud, many times the only thing maintaining an active fraud department at a global institution is regulators. I'll speak for the finance industry as that is what I know. Consumer fraud is taken as a BIG DEAL at banks not because of the cost of the transaction - that is usually a minor amount to reimburse. The problem is that when regulators see you have a series of fraud incidents, they will come down on you like an old testament plague. This incentives the banks to really get their act together. Most banks will have 5-10 fraud scores running concurrently, many are product-specific. And provide extensive training to customer-facing employees.

 

Of course this encourages economies of scale because it is difficult to spread these costs over a small customer base. But, over millions the incremental cost per customer is almost non-existent, but it provides a great value. This is one case where regulation + industry concentration actually provides a positive cost-benefit to the customer.

 

I am pretty sure that fraud is pretty low on the totem pole of priories for startups in the land grabbing phase like Airbnb. I am sure they can solve it, but this is probably reserved for later.

 

For credit cards, I found Chase and Amex to be very good at fraud detection. In two cases, my wife’s Chase card was apparently skimmed and used for a small test charge (~$1), which they immediately detected as a fraud, despite the fact that it was done in relative proximity to our home location. Same with Amex in one incidence.

 

Yes the credit card companies are on the ball.  I've been alerted by them of fraudulent charges on my account before I've noticed them on 2 occasions.  Although I did cancel my Citibank card after I was scammed while traveling in Mexico and Citibank took the side of the company that scammed me and didn't reverse the charges.  I had that card since college so almost 20 years and I cancelled it, telling them that I'd never do business with Citibank again.  And I never will.  It was only a few hundred dollars, but I paid for a tour that was never provided to me (they never came to pick us up, but claimed that it was us that never showed up) and it is the principle of the thing.  Citibank believed the scammers over a long time customer.  I was outraged.  Fck Citibank.  My reaction is why I don't like the idea of people being scammed on airbnb, because I know if I was and Airbnb sided with the scammers that I would never use it again as long as I lived.

 

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