Everywhere you turn these days, someone seems to be trying to bilk you out of your hard-earned money.

Among the most recent scams comes from Konrad Bicher, the self-proclaimed “Wolf of Airbnb.”

Bicher is accused of renting at least 18 apartments in Manhattan, New York, and offering them as short-term rentals without paying his own landlord’s rent, telling them he could not make payments because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bicher also received hundreds of thousands of dollars in Paycheck Protection Program funding based on multiple fraudulent applications.

“Bicher abused government programs and tenant protections intended to benefit New Yorkers in crisis, and he will have to answer for his conduct,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said.

Bicher was indicted in October on two counts of wire fraud, each carrying a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and one count of aggravated identity theft, which carries an additional mandatory consecutive two-year sentence.

“As alleged, the defendant proudly executed his multiple schemes to defraud both private entities and the United States government for his own personal benefit,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Michael Driscoll said. “The FBI remains committed to not only exterminating fraud in all its forms but also to ensuring all those who abused a program designed to aid small businesses during an unprecedented global pandemic are held accountable.”

Then there’s the case of a tenant who was evicted from a condo in Charlotte, North Carolina, but continued to list it for rent on Airbnb — even after the property had been sold to a new owner, who battled the short-term rental giant to get the listing removed. From a search on Reddit, the new owner discovered other new homeowners whose properties were listed on Airbnb by former occupants.

Bicher’s alleged scam is particularly egregious, but many people have been affected by Airbnb scams that can ruin a vacation.

Check out: This Strategy Lets You Invest In Vacation Rentals With As Little As $100

Scams Prevalent On Airbnb

Data scientist Asher Fergusson, who runs the travel safety website Asher & Lyric, partnered with researchers at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the University of Colorado School of Public Affairs in Colorado Springs to analyze 127,183 complaints about Airbnb posted on Twitter between Jan. 1, 2015, and Sept. 20, 2020.

The study found that the top scams affecting Airbnb guests include:

  • Account hacked (20.7%)

    • Hacker books with guest’s account and payment method.

    • Hacker locks guests out of their account.

    • Airbnb may not resolve the hack, making guests believe that Airbnb is the source of the scam.

    • Can be a method of money laundering.

    • Airbnb may collect fees regardless.

  • Other scams (9.2%)

    • Host demands extra “taxes and fees” in cash upon arrival.

    • Host falsifies damages.

    • Listed amenities withheld for “cash surcharge.”

    • Fake Airbnb emails/website.

  • Fake reviews (0.9%)

    • Reviews are clearly fake.

    • Airbnb censors reviews.

    • Host blackmailed for a good review.

    • Host engages in review manipulation techniques.

“Our analysis shows that scammers are using home-sharing platforms to target unsuspecting victims,” according to the Asher & Lyric travel website. “Although we can’t quantify the exact amount, these tweets suggest a serious problem.

“Since Airbnb is a recognizable brand and the service appears comparable to that of hotels, users are most likely letting their guard down and trusting the app. Guests expecting quality accommodation and service can be lured into a scam and appear to be left with little recourse, as is documented by tweets complaining about the lack of customer support in these situations.”

See more on real estate investing from Benzinga

Don’t miss real-time alerts on your stocks – join Benzinga Pro for free! Try the tool that will help you invest smarter, faster, and better.

© 2022 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.

Source link

Previous articleCOVID-19 vaccine scams: What to know | KVUE
Next articleFacebook lotto scam


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here