Police are warning holiday renters to be extra diligent, following a tripling in the number of scams being reported on sites like Stayz and Airbnb.
As Superintendent Terry Lawrence from the Queensland Police fraud squad told A Current Affair, the fraudsters have been posting false advertisements on the popular booking websites, then pocketing unwitting customers’ deposits and accommodation fees.
“People are either posting fake addresses, or taking images of houses or accommodation places and putting them up in a different location and enticing people to pay the deposit, and then the full amount,” he said.
“And of course, when they arrive, there’s no accommodation there at that particular address at all.”
Police recommend always paying through the booking website, and not directly into the host’s personal account.
“Apart from researching widely, make regular contact with the accommodation provider, the official one, to make sure your accommodation is there and your money has been received,” Mr Lawrence said.
“If you have concerns, contact the actual website provider, so in this case it would be Airbnb or Stayz, and make sure that everything through them is okay.”
Should you become the victim of an accommodation scam, be sure to contact local police and the Australian Consumer Corruption Commission.