A relatively new scam has victimized a number of British vacation renters, and could be more widespread, but it's easy to avoid: Just follow Airbnb's rules about payments and messages.
A number of British holidayers reported to the Telegraph (UK)'s consumer correspondent that they had received what they believed were legitimate messages from their hosts, telling them that their credit card payments for their reservations had been turned down by the card issuer, and instructing them to send the money by international bank transfer.
Airbnb warns all users never to make payments outside Airbnb's payment portal, but the victims paid anyway, believing the requests were legitimate because the message included all the rental details—and they had followed Airbnb's other advice: keep all your messaging with the host through the Airbnb portal. Airbnb uses "anonymized" e-mail addresses so neither host nor guest has the actual address.
It appears that the faker uses phishing techniques to send the host an email that appears to come from Airbnb, asking him to verify account details. Using that information, the trickster then has access to enough information to send the guest—through the Airbnb message system—the demand for the cash transfer. Airbnb has now added an additional notice, next to each message thread, reminding "Never pay for your reservations outside the Airbnb website."
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