Rioters on Capitol Hill used fake Airbnb account to stay in Washington, hosts say

When images of pro-Trump rioters storming the Capitol flooded the global media last week, it was so shocking that most people didn’t stop to wonder where the dozens of people actually came from. thousands of people in the crowd… or where they were staying.

It turns out that – unsurprisingly – many were not local residents of Washington DC, which has just under 700,000 residents and voted overwhelmingly against Trump in the presidential election, with Joe Biden receiving 93% of the vote. .

In fact, it appears that a number of attendees used Airbnb to find local accommodation, some under false pretenses, leaving hosts uncomfortable and fearful for their safety.

One of these hosts, who wanted to be identified only as “Paul”, spoke to Spy about his experience, explaining how he was initially tricked into believing his guests were simply visiting DC for vacation.

But when he saw his guests walking towards the “Stop the Steal” walk on his security camera, Paul said he suddenly thought, “Oh damn, I have a problem,” and said his “ stomach fell ‘to the realization.

His first port of call was to contact Airbnb, but according to his account, that was largely unsuccessful. Paul then decided to leave his home and stay with a friend, fearing for his safety. When he returned home, he found nothing abnormal, and without their participation in the uprising, they would have been perfect hosts.

He left them a review, however, explaining the situation. He wrote:

“When Melissa booked my Airbnb she claimed it was for a ‘historic sightseeing trip’ but instead she and her guests made history by participating in the most horrific attack on our democracy in the world. Capitol on January 6, 2021. Her and her guests returned after the riot and bragged outside my house, captured on my Ring Doorbell, “I was there… I didn’t want to get involved as much as I did. did, but to be honest they deserved it. “A Capitol Police officer was murdered and four of the rioters lost their lives. I wouldn’t recommend renting to Melissa.

Spy also spoke to Eric, another Airbnb host in the area. Eric thought he was renting his property from a reporter named Lindsay, but instead two men showed up at his door. With Biden signs in his yard and a three-year-old at home, Eric worried for his safety and that of his family.

He explained his dilemma over whether or not to report the fake profile:

“It was the question, ‘Are you pushing the bear or not stinging the bear? It’s not like an Uber where, when they pull away, you’ll probably never see that person again. With Airbnb, they know where you live.

In the aftermath of the riot, local groups in the area were reportedly “filled with reports of terrorized residents,” and they fear something similar could happen on January 20 for the inauguration.

Due to these fears, Airbnb announced that it will cancel all bookings in the DC area for the entire week. In a statement, Airbnb said, “As we learned from the media or law enforcement of the names of those confirmed to be responsible for the violent criminal activity on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, we investigated to find out if the persons named have an account on Airbnb.

“Through this work, we have identified numerous individuals who are either associated with known hate groups or otherwise involved in criminal activity on Capitol Hill, and they have been banned from the Airbnb platform.”

Local residents are now trying to make sure other short-term rental companies commit to doing something similar.

FOLLOWING: An open letter to the rioters on the US Capitol

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