We’ve only stayed at an Airbnb once, back in 2016. It was down in Miami, for the night before we had an early morning flight to Havana. I suppose the stay was OK. I mean, the place was clean and it had what we needed in terms of 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom (it had a kitchen too, but it was sort of superfluous for our 10-hour stay). So it served its purpose. But unless I know someone really, really well, I just don’t feel comfortable staying overnight in someone’s house.
I wasn’t even super well-read about Airbnb at the time; in fact, it was the couple we were traveling with who made the reservation. It wasn’t until after our stay that I started hearing about the horror stories:
- The hidden cameras that’ve been found in some Airbnbs
- The risks owners and renters take by doing Airbnb
- The horrible things that have happened to Airbnb renters and owners
That’s on top of all the cities that have made Airbnb illegal, or have made certain rules law (i.e. in NYC, owners have to live on-premises), to help protect renters from all the ways owners have tried to work the system.
So I’ve been very hesitant to use Airbnb ever since. But now, after this past weekend, when the FBI has gotten involved in TWO Airbnb incidents? I’m staying FAR away.
Here’s what happened:
5 dead in party house turned murder house
An Airbnb rental in San Francisco being used for a large “mansion party” became the scene of a shooting, with 5 people dead and multiple people injured. The neighbors called it “the party house” and said that the owner always used it as a short term rental.
The FBI was on the scene to try to figure out what happened and why, as well as get more information about potential suspects.
Airbnb has since banned “party houses.” How they’ll know a house is being used for partying is beyond me.
She accidentally stumbled upon a nationwide Airbnb fraud scheme
Allie Conti is a senior staff writer at VICE, a Canadian-American print magazine focused on lifestyle, arts, culture, and news/politics. She had gotten scammed by an Airbnb owner in Chicago and while trying to find him/her, discovered a multistate scam that included lies, bait & switch, and, not surprisingly, no help from Airbnb. Her article about this (you can click here to read it – it’s a long read but, IMHO, pretty fascinating) was post one day and the next morning, the FBI had contacted VICE about the claims she had made in the article.
So we’ll see what happens with that.
The ironic thing about all this
The funny thing (not “haha” funny; more like, “Are you freakin’ kidding me?” funny) about this is that in May, Airbnb hired Sean Joyce as Chief Trust Officer. Joyce has a 26-year career with the FBI.
From Axios: “Trust and safety are crucial to Airbnb’s business, which essentially asks people to open their home to strangers. Over the years, the company has faced a number of challenges in the area, including guests damaging homes, guests experiencing unsafe situations and racial discrimination.”
Now, I get it. Airbnb hosts 2 million people per night. Not every one of those stays is a scam or is dangerous. People can stay in dozens and dozens of Airbnbs with no problems whatsoever.
Until you’re unwittingly the victim of an Airbnb scam artist and you have nowhere to stay in Chicago except a flophouse. Or you visit the place your friend is renting from Airbnb & people get shot. Or a video of you and your partner enjoying some adult recreation at an Airbnb is posted on the internet. Or dozens of other incidents happen.
I think Chief Trust Officer Sean Joyce has a whole lot of work to do.
Like this post? Please share it! We have plenty more just like it and would love if you decided to hang around and clicked the button on the top (if you’re on your computer) or the bottom (if you’re on your phone/tablet) of this page to follow our blog and get emailed notifications of when we post (it’s usually about 3 or 4 times a day). Or maybe you’d like to join our Facebook group, where we talk and ask questions about travel (including Disney parks), creative ways to earn frequent flyer miles and hotel points, how to save money on or for your trips, get access to travel articles you may not see otherwise, etc. Whether you’ve read our posts before or this is the first time you’re stopping by, we’re really glad you’re here and hope you come back to visit again!
This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary