A Singapore permanent resident from South Korea had paid €32,154 (S$51,600) to rent a non-existing Paris apartment they found in Airbnb, reported AsiaOne.
Experts think that 41-year-old housewife April Cho and her spouse most likely got an email from the listing they saw on the home-sharing website that contained a link to a similar-looking portal.
The couple said they had talked with the purported property owner via live-chat and subsequently wired money from DBS Bank to an account called “Airbnb Euro Trans” in Poland for their seven-month stay.
But they realized that they had been scammed after multiple attempts to contact the owner failed and verifying the listing on the actual Airbnb website. They had also reported the incident to the police and called the bank, while the fake listing was already removed, but not a single dime had been recovered.
Miss Cho revealed that she had turned to Airbnb to look for a place to stay in the French capital because she had signed up for a pastry-making course in the famous culinary school Le Cordon Bleu. Another reason was to avoid paying property agent fees.
Now she has decided to not to use the home-sharing website again, and the couple still ended up forking out €1,500 (S$2,400) to an estate agent to secure a flat with a monthly rent of €3,255 (S$5,230).
According to the Consumers Association of Singapore Executive Director Loy York Jiun, Airbnb users must be careful about falling prey to scammers, while Airbnb has a duty to protect its users from cybercriminals. The latter should also strongly remind its users to only transact via the official website.
This article was edited by Keshia Faculin.