Edinburgh visitors targeted by ‘AirBnB made up listings’ of lavish properties

Scammers who operate a fake website pretending to be AirBnB have targeted visitors to Edinburgh with the aim of defrauding them of thousands of pounds.

The elaborate ruse attempts to trick unsuspecting tenants into passing on personal information via “AlrBnB” – a copycat of the short-term rental provider that doesn’t exist.

Apartments in the capital with “unprecedented views of Edinburgh Castle” listed on Facebook’s Marketplace feature, some of which actually contain images of Belfast apartments, have been made available for rent under fake profiles.

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The crooks then engage with potential tenants and ask them to pay sums of up to £ 3,000 as a bond to secure the property before running away with the money.

A Edinburgh Live The investigation found listings of apartments in a number of major UK cities, including Birmingham, Cardiff and Liverpool, under similar fake profiles.

Facebook claims to have removed several ads and at least one profile that was allegedly used to perpetuate the scam.

A user contacted a profile on Marketplace about a “luxury” property in the city center.

Users were redirected to a website that looked a lot like AirBnB, but used a slightly modified URL.

During the conversation, the user received a link to a North Castle Street apartment that appeared to be listed on AirBnB.

The four bedroom apartment would provide “the perfect base for visiting all of Edinburgh’s major sights”.

However, the listing contained no images of the exterior of the property and vague details of its exact location, while apparently being rented out by a London-based host named Perez.

In the reviews section, which featured all five-star ratings, a reverse image search found that those leaving comments were using images from a photo website under fake identities.

And the whole site is listed under a fake URL, sporting the name “AlrBnB” in an attempt to masquerade as the short-term rental platform.

The crooks demanded upfront payments of over £ 2,000 to secure a deposit for the apartment, which did not exist.
The crooks demanded upfront payments of over £ 2,000 to secure a deposit for the apartment, which did not exist.

During her conversation with the landlord, whose profile says she lives in Riverside, California, the potential tenant quickly became suspicious of a £ 2,100 deposit required to secure the property for 11 months.

This would cover two months’ rent, plus a cleaning fee of £ 1,400 plus access to a parking space and storage unit.

The owner said she was “working overseas as a civil engineer” and renting the apartment through “AirBnB” so that the company “manages the rental process on her behalf.”

A suspicious list, believed to be in Edinburgh, featured images of Belfast's famous Harland and Wolff cranes.
A suspicious list, believed to be in Edinburgh, featured images of Belfast’s famous Harland and Wolff cranes.

A spokesperson for AirBnB said the company would not comment on the bogus site, but encouraged all users to keep interactions with hosts “on the platform” and never engage or share information. personal information on other messaging or social media services.

After spotting another apartment for rent under the same username, which suspiciously featured photos of the famous Harland and Wolff cranes from Northern Ireland’s capital on the walls, Edinburgh Live contacted the owner apparent, but did not receive a response.

Another ad on the user’s profile listed a property in Birmingham – using images from an apartment in Sunderland.

A Facebook spokesperson urged users to “report buyers or sellers who are not acting in good faith” and to avoid sharing “personal financial information to make or accept a purchase.”

He added, “We don’t want fraudulent or inauthentic behavior on Facebook.

“We continue to invest in people and technology to remove this type of activity from our platforms, and we urge people to report any suspicious announcements, accounts or posts to us so that we can take action.”

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