HomeLatest UpdatesAirbnb scammers pose as hosts, redirect users to fake Tripadvisor site

Airbnb scammers pose as hosts, redirect users to fake Tripadvisor site

Scammers on Airbnb are faking technical issues and citing higher fees to get users to a spoofed Tripadvisor website and steal their money.

The Airbnb scam

Malwarebytes researchers came across the Airbnb scam when trying to book an apartment through the platform.

The owner/scammer noted in the listing that those interested in booking the property should contact him by email to check for availability.

The scammer replies to the victim’s email and tries to get the user to book the apartment via Tripadvisor.

Airbnb scam

Airbnb scam email. (Source: Malwarebytes)

To add credibility to the scam, the victim receives another email, ostensibly from Tripadvisor’s platform, urging them to complete the booking by following the shortened URLs in the first email.

Unfortunately, those links point to a spoofed Tripadvisor website that instructs the victim to sign up and enter payment card details.

“Further research based on the URL to the fake Tripadvisor website showed us that these scammers have probably been active for quite some time,” the researchers said, pointing out that they found 220 websites related to this scam.

“26 of them were structured similar to tripadvisor-pre-approved-cdc0-4188-b6e5-0e742976f964.nerioni.cfd, and related sites. And 194 were structured similar to airbnb-pre-approved-0e03cd9c-7f5e.mucolg.buzz, and related sites.”

Spotting and avoiding such scams

Airbnb warns about the dangers of off-platform activity and off-site payments.

One of the recommendations is to not make bookings outside of the platform, which also includes communicating, sharing personal information, paying or asking for payment for a reservation. They allow off-site payments only when they approved it in advance and guests have been informed before booking.

The company also explains how users can identify emails and websites that impersonate Airbnb, and helpfully lists official Airbnb domains.

“Scammers are always trying to create a sense of urgency so you click before you can think,” Malwarebytes researchers add.

“Don’t get rushed into making decisions. Double check the website again before entering personal details or financial information.”

Customers seeking hotel accommodation are also in danger of getting their payment card information stolen: in a recently documented scam, criminals opt for compromising hotels’ Booking.com accounts and contacting potential victims through them.

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