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Airbnb fraudster checked out with my keys and £600 speakers

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Can you please ask Airbnb how it allowed a fraudster to stay in my house and steal my speakers and keys? I rent out my home in east London whenever I go back to Ireland to visit family. In July I accepted a request from a woman called Clare who had a verified profile and past reviews, and all seemed well. The keys were left in the lockbox as usual, the guests checked themselves in – and then threw a house party. When I returned I found my £600 speakers were gone along with the house keys. I had to spend £400 replacing the locks.

Airbnb rejected my request for reimbursement and refused to discuss it further. However, after I tracked down Clare, it emerged that her account had been taken over fraudulently, and that Airbnb had been made aware of this fact on the day of the booking by her credit card company, Barclaycard.

Airbnb has shown zero regard for the safety of my property, has refused to help and has rejected any requests when I ask for a callback. The company appears to believe it has no liability in this matter. What do you think?

BK, London

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If our postbag is representative, Airbnb has a bit of a habit of denying liability when things go wrong. However, I have some sympathy for the firm in this case, given that it was only alerted by Barclaycard to the fraudulent payment on the same day that your “guests” arrived. It would have taken staff some time to link this to your reservation.

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I asked the company to take another look at your case and it has agreed to refund your losses, although it says it was not aware that the guest’s account had been hacked at the time of check-in.

An Airbnb spokesperson says: “This was an incredibly rare incident and as soon as we were aware, we assisted the guest to recover their account, and are supporting the host. We ask users to report any concerns to us immediately. In the unlikely event of an issue, our community support team is on hand 24/7 to help.”

Using Airbnb in the way you do will always be something of a leap of faith, given that any online operation is open to being hacked. Personally I’d find a friend to hand over and collect the keys at the beginning and end of each stay – they will be able to spot any unexpected guests, and can quickly alert you if your keys go astray.

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