Queensland Airbnb host is a victim of identity theft.

 

In an interview with the popular show A Current Affair, Rachel stated that she
feels “violated, offended, invaded, taken advantage of and abused”.
“I opened up my home and my heart to this vile person who indiscriminately
chose to destroy, potentially the rest of my life, I’ve got no idea how long the
ramifications will go on,” she claimed.
“I’m so trusting, I’m a trustworthy person, I wouldn’t take things from other
people and I didn’t expect anyone who would take anything from me.”
Rachel lives in the beautiful fully equipped Brisbane property and only rents it
out anytime she is on holidays or house-sitting for her family or friends, the
house was booked by an Airbnb user who did not have a profile picture on his
account. These days profile pictures are no longer a necessary requirement
when creating an Airbnb account. Nevertheless, that should have raised the
first red flag for her.
Airbnb has a pretty strict identification protocol in place and Rachel trusted it
as she never has had a negative experience before. Even more now during the
Covid-19 crisis, as hosts are lucky to even have one booking on their properties.
“Remember Airbnb’s meant to verify all Airbnb users with three forms of
Government ID so even though there was no photo, I had to assume he had
been verified by Airbnb and it wasn’t mandatory to have a photo anymore,”
Rachel told the reporter.
The scammer went even further to gain Rachel’s trust by texting her each of the
five-day booking without any shame or remorse. Professional scammers know
what they are doing and know exactly what to do so they do not seem
suspicious to victims.
“The next morning, I SMSed him, ‘how did you go, how did you sleep?’ And he
said, ‘everything’s great thank you’, and I’m thinking, sure everything’s great
(he’s) living in a home full of an owner’s possessions and got free reign of it all,”
she said.
That is when what it seems like a normal Airbnb booking started to turn into
her worst unimaginable nightmare, she came back home to discover that all the
the place had been turned upside down, ravaged, and all her valuables were not to
be found.
“I felt like I was in a dream, I felt this was happening to someone else, this
couldn’t be real,” she said.
Around $18,000 worth of items were lost, among them, there was an apnoea
machine, a 55” smart TV, and her old laptop. But that was only the beginning of
what might be the worst experience of her life, as the old laptop still contained
private information and its identification details, allowing the scammer to
impersonate her. After gaining access to her identity details he was able to
make many purchases including a $5000 car on eBay and even he dared to
order a new credit card, which was mailed to her seven days later.
Even after changing dozens of passwords since the incident, her mother’s share
portfolio was jeopardized and the thief could have gained access to further
valuable information.
“He is not an amateur, he knows exactly what he’s doing,” Rachel said of the
scammer.
“I believe he’s a sociopath, he has no conscience whatsoever, doesn’t give a
darn about how the victim will feel.”
After she reported the incident the Queensland Police Department has opened
an investigation and is on the trail of a possible suspect.
“They believe he is doing this from place to place, identity theft from one place,
using that to book the next place,” she said.
Airbnb has a Million Dollar Host Guarantee that may cover Rachel’s losses. But
for now, Rachel’s claim for compensation to Airbnb is still being processed and
under investigation.