‘Airbnb wolf’ arrested for illegal short-term rental

NEW YORK (1010 VICTORIES) — A 31-year-old Florida man who called himself the “wolf of Airbnb” has been arrested for renting several apartments in New York against its rental rules and for not paying rent for the units for years, have authorities announced Thursday.

Konrad Bicher and a host of associates have worked together since at least February 2019 to lease 18 units in Manhattan. Under the apartment rental agreements, short-term rental or subletting of the units was prohibited.

Despite the restrictions, Bicher and his co-conspirators listed and rented the apartments on AirBnB and other online marketplaces. From 2019 to 2022, Bicher and his associates took more than $1 million from short-term rentals, according to court documents.

In addition to illegally renting the apartments, Bicher and his buddies failed to pay rent for more than three years. Tenants owed more than $1 million in rent and often refused to vacate a unit at the end of a lease, officials said.

Multiple attempts were made by landlords to get their rent money, stop short-term rentals, including suing Bicher in civil court. All the while, Bicher continued to rent the apartments.

Bicher’s schemes also included fraudulently obtaining a Paycheck Protection Program loan in 2021, submitting at least four PPP loan applications and receiving more than $565,000 in loan funds. In order to obtain them, Bicher forged IRS tax documents.

Over the years, Bicher regularly called himself the “wolf of Airbnb,” explaining that it meant he was “hungry and ruthless enough to climb to the top of the financial ladder” and had the “ferocity …of a wolf, because wolves are territorial, vicious, and show no mercy when provoked.

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

Bicher was charged with wire fraud and aggravated impersonation. If convicted, he faces up to 22 years in prison.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Mateusz Slodkowski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

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