One TEEN was in tears after working overtime to pay nearly £1,000 for her dream home on ‘Airbnb’ – but it was all a scam.
Courtney Parker, 18, discovered the “perfect” one-bedroom studio on Facebook Marketplace – clicking a link appeared to take her to Airbnb.
The 18-year-old has been asked for £983 – including £480 deposit, £480 first month’s rent and £23 ‘Airbnb service fee’ – to secure the flat, which has a balcony overlooking downtown Leeds skyline.
When the payment failed using the ‘Airbnb’ link, the scammer persuaded her to transfer cash via bank to their ‘business account’.
The pam.ent was then tracked down with a “legitimate looking Airbnb confirmation email.”
But when the babysitter doggy and her boyfriend Kaden Walker first came to the apartment to look and get their keys, the ‘owner’ didn’t show up.
A building security guard informed the young couple that they had likely been scammed – as he had seen many people go to an apartment on the 16th floor for the same thing to happen to them.
With nowhere to live, the couple was forced to move in separately with family members.
Now they are voicing warnings to others about offers that seem “too good to be true” – and always watching the property.
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Courtney, from Cross Green, Leeds, said: “I asked to see the apartment but she said ‘no need, you’ll love it anyway’.
“I think it’s a bit weird because everywhere I ask to show me, but I think since it’s through Airbnb it should be fine – I’ve used Airbnb before and you’ve never seen your room before booking.
“If it weren’t for Airbnb, I never would have done it, it’s because they use that company name that I love it.
“It was terrible because I worked so many hours at work to get extra money to cover it, got the weekend job and worked late.
“I’m fighting for my car insurance now because I dropped £1,000 for nothing.
“I didn’t know how to feel, I was in shock. When I phoned the bank, I started crying.
“I’ve worked so hard for this money, it’s not like I’m one of those teenagers who just sit at home all day and get money for them, I’ve been working since I was 13.”
This girl paid the full £983 for the flat she and boyfriend Kaden, 19, will share – half of which, she says Kaden will pay her back once they get their deposit back deposit for the first apartment.
The young couple chose the property because it was listed at ‘too good to be true’ a monthly cost of £480 with all bills included.
They said the Airbnb ad ‘looked legit’ and the scammer’s ‘business’ Whatsapp account convinced them the listing was real without looking at the property before the October 20 move-in date.
But Airbnb has since confirmed that the link was in fact to a fake website designed to mislead people into trusting the brand name.
It looks like the scammer used pictures from someone else’s apartment to include in their listing.
Courtney said: “Our lease was coming to an end so we just searched Facebook Marketplace and found this apartment.
“I think this one is perfect – it has sweeping views of Leeds and I’m really looking forward to moving in.
“We tried to pay through the Airbnb link she sent but it didn’t work. So she said we could try switching to her business account because that’s how we do it. I make monthly payments.
“I did a bank transfer and she immediately sent me a confirmation email that looked like a legitimate Airbnb confirmation email so I thought it was real.
“Just before I was about to go to work to get my keys, I texted saying we had half an hour to go but it didn’t get notified and the profile picture was deleted. I tried calling and the call didn’t work either. we just decided to go see.
“We must have been there for about an hour and a half when the security guard came and said ‘isn’t it the 16th floor by chance?’ and right after he said we knew.
“He said I think it’s a scam, you need to call the police and contact your bank. He met someone else that day but said everyone had done it before. so.”
Courtney and her boyfriend have told their current landlord that they will be moving out and packing all their belongings when they realize they’ve been duped.
After the scam, the couple texted the scammer again – this time from Kaden’s account – and said they were sent with a fake ‘Airbnb link’ with names and bank accounts other is attached.
They were sent the same details as their original transaction to another apartment listing, leading them to believe a sophisticated scammer was behind some of the rental listings on Facebook Marketplace.
“They have loads of different Facebook accounts and send Whatsapp links with loads of different names and bank accounts,” Courtney said.
“We went back to Facebook ads and this time my boyfriend texted her and she sent him a new link on Whatsapp with a different name, phone number and photo.
“They were also advertising different apartments – I had seen another one in Leeds and knew it was too good to be true but anyway I texted them to see and they sent I details the same as the first time I get about another apartment.”
Thankfully, a family friend is now letting the couple stay in their newly renovated apartment for free until they recover financially from the scam and can save another deposit and start renting again.
Courtney said: “I think it’s absolutely disgusting – how can anyone do this and put it off.
“My family offered to give me some money back but it was my fault and you have to learn from it.
“Anyone looking for an apartment online needs to see it, and if they don’t let you see it, you won’t hand over any money.”
Airbnb has advised users to communicate and pay only on the official website so that payments are processed through their secure payment service.
Courtney reported the incident to West Yorkshire Police and was referred to fraud investigators, who are currently looking into the case.
A spokesperson for Action Fraud confirmed that it received the case on 20 October 2021 and that it is currently being investigated by the City of London Police’s National Fraud Intelligence Department.
A spokesperson for Meta (Facebook) said: “We’re sorry to hear that Courtney was scammed in this way and we encourage people to report sophisticated scams like this to the police.
“We’ve devoted significant resources to tackling online fraud across the industry by working to detect and remove fraudulent ads and fraudulent behavior.
“We continue to invest in new technologies and methods to protect people, and have donated £3 million to Citizens Advice to deliver the UK Fraud Action Program to raise awareness about online scams and help victims.”
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https://www.thesun.ie/money/8101043/teen-tears-dream-home-airbnb-scam/ I was in tears after working overtime to pay almost £1k for my dream home on ‘Airbnb’ but it was all a scam