Fraudsters Use Fake Credit Cards and Trash Calgary Airbnb Rental

17 June 2015

If you rent your home using Airbnb, it’s extremely important to vet your guests thoroughly before agreeing to rent to them. This point was brought cruelly home for a Calgary family recently when their house was completely trashed by Airbnb renters. Over the course of the investigation, police have discovered that the unscrupulous renters were using fake credit cards throughout the weekend they stayed in the home.

In a story that has Airbnb users in the area concerned, northwest Calgary residents Star and Mark King rented their home out for the weekend of April 24-27 using the popular vacation rental website. When they came back to the home, they found it had been completely destroyed. The furniture had been covered with mayonnaise, there was liquor and broken glass all over the floor and piles of trash and cigarettes were strewn throughout the house. Even worse, the renters and whoever they invited to the home had left “biohazardous material” behind, meaning that workers had to don hazmat suits and respirators just to enter the house. Anything soft or plush will have to be disinfected and then thrown out, including bedding, furniture and toys.

All told, the damage to the home is estimated at about $150,000, and the King family is wondering if they should even bother to stay in the house or just cut their losses and move.

“At this point, I don’t really want to go in there,” Star King told the Calgary Herald. “I’m done looking at it for now.”

So how were these unwelcome guests able to trash the house so thoroughly without fear of reprisal? According to Calgary police, they were using fake credit cards at nearby stores when they purchased the alcohol, cigarettes and food that were used in the destruction of the home. This makes it nearly impossible for the police to trace anyone who stayed in the house other than the original renter. Police are searching for him on a charge of mischief to property over $5,000, and say that the suspect is known to them.

It’s very important for people who rent their homes using Airbnb to be wary to avoid scammers. Not only do you run the risk of damage to your home, but if you allow a guest with criminal intent into your private space, they might try to find out your personal and credit card information for identity theft and credit card fraud purposes. Here are a couple of key tips to keep from renting to a fraudster:

  • Do a thorough internet search. Airbnb members are usually on social media, so make sure to visit their Facebook page and other profiles to look for signs that you might not want to allow them into your home. If they’re not on social media sites, this is a major red flag and you should probably avoid renting to them. You should also run a Google search on the names of any prospective renters to see what comes up.
  • Don’t rent to locals. Veteran Airbnb users agree: If someone from the same city is trying to rent your room, it’s either due to a bad family situation that you probably want to avoid, or they’re looking to run a scam on you.

To make sure you’re alerted to certain activities in your credit files that could indicate fraud, sign up for a credit monitoring service today.