HomeTourismIn the US, a fraudster through Airbnb defrauded tourists of 7 million...

In the US, a fraudster through Airbnb defrauded tourists of 7 million dollars

In the United States, a fraudster was arrested, suspected of obtaining about 7 million dollars by deceiving customers of the Airbnb housing reservation service between January 2018 and November 2019.

According to an arrest warrant obtained by The Independent, Shrey Goel and his accomplices used different identities to double-book the property and deny customers refunds on cancellations. The scheme covered nearly 100 properties in various US states and allowed fraudsters to make more than 10,000 Airbnb bookings.

According to the investigation, the criminals posted the same accommodation on Airbnb several times and then preferred the customer who offered the highest rental amount. The rest of the applicants, under pretenses, for example, referring to a force majeure situation, they refused pre-paid housing and offered to settle in a lower-quality one for the same amount. If the client did not agree to this, he was still denied a refund.

At the same time, Goel hid negative reviews by removing and re-posting properties on the site and posting misleading positive reviews. He also used fictitious owners and non-existent real estate objects to implement this scheme.

He also falsely informed the Airbnb rental platform that the guest was staying at the property, which deprived the latter of the right to a full refund by Airbnb’s policy.

Goel came to the attention of law enforcement back in 2019 when the media company Vice launched an investigation against him after one of the editors of the publication considered a replacement rental property suspicious, allegedly because the original one was flooded.

After the Vice story went viral, the journalists were contacted by the FBI, and Airbnb promised to double-check all properties on the platform and remove accounts linked to Goel.

As reported by Fox News, Goel’s arrest warrant was issued on December 28. He was arrested and later released on bail. A court date has not yet been set, as the prosecutor’s office is still investigating. He is currently charged with wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

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