Expats in Spain warned about Airbnb rental apartment scam

Published:  2 Apr at 6 PM
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Expats and travellers are being warned about yet another Airbnb property rental scam focusing on Spain.

Non-existent properties purporting to be on rental booking site Airbnb are being used to con expats looking online for Spanish accommodation. One luxurious central Estepona property discovered on popular e-commerce website Milanuncios during a media-led investigation seemed too good to be true for the price offered, and proved to be so as a result of the investigation.

When contacted, the scammer asked for two months’ payment and an upfront deposit as well as personal details and an ID. The payment was to be made through Airbnb, and the undercover journalist was refused a chance to view the property before money changed hands. The excuse given by the conman was that he’d recently moved from Spain to Denmark to take up a new job as an engineer, but he sent a copy of his ID card to the undercover reporter. When checked, the ID corresponded with that of a former Spanish political advisor.

Further investigation showed the purported Airbnb web page to be a clever copy as its address didn’t match the original nor did it show a link to a homepage. Checks by the reporter uncovered the fake site’s IP address and traced it to a Copenhagen street. The site was modified in 2016, suggesting the fraudster had been active for some years. Since the scam was discovered, several more property pics and details have been uploaded, showing similar luxury pads using different Hotmail accounts. The crook seems to upload pages late at night, deleting them the next morning.

One expat who’d almost been conned by the same scammer five years ago reported she’d seen the same images and contacted the scammer, who requested a money transfer in exchange for the keys to be picked up at an office in an undisclosed location. According to a Spanish lawyer, the scammer isn’t a native Spanish speaker and his choice of ‘engineer’ as his profession is a common one used by online fraudsters.
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