Couple left ‘penniless and homeless’ by vicious Facebook property scam | Personal Finance | Finance

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Appearing on BBC’s Rip off Britain, the pair issued a warning about fraudulent and dangerous online adverts. Clare and Darren had lived in Benidorm with their two children, working in care and as a DJ respectively.

“We had several conversations with the owner, who was delighted to have a decent family to live there.

“We had absolutely no suspicion whatsoever. We were so excited to be back together as a family, very excited to be there.”

The owner explained she had used Airbnb to rent out the property in the past, directing them towards the former listing.

However, when it came to the crunch, the owner asked for a bank transfer of the deposit and two months worth of rent. 

Excited to move into their new home, and confident everything checked out, Claire and Darren made the transfer and started a four and a half hour drive to meet one another. 

When they arrived at the property, there was no sign of the owner or the Airbnb representative she had promised would be there to meet them.

After several hours, the worried Claire called Airbnb head offices directly.

She said: “The poor gentleman on the phone had to break the news to me.

“He said, ‘There’s no easy way to tell you this, but you’ve been scammed’.

“I broke down, I completely broke down, and I had to run away around the corner so the kids didn’t see. I then had to walk back around the corner to tell Darren, his parents and our children that we had nowhere to live.

“At first the children didn’t know what was going on, but I was a complete mess and I don’t like the children to see me like that.”

The Airbnb representative attempted to calm the fraught Claire down as she relayed her concerns.

The advert seemed legitimate, however, the person Claire had been speaking to was a scammer with no connection to the real flat.

It appeared they had copied the listing and put it on Facebook Marketplace as bait for a scam. 

The couple were now “penniless and homeless”, understandably worried about their future, Gloria Hunniford said. 

Desperate for help, the couple contacted the local council to see what could be done.

With most of their savings now in the hands of the scammers, they were placed into a local hostel while they tried to get back on their feet.

Reflecting on their experience, the couple stood outside what should have been their home. 

Darren remarked: “As I stand here now, I’m filled with anger, shaking with anger and tears.

“It makes you think how things could have been different, if we did get into the place how our life would have been.”

Airbnb said they had not provided the support that met its usual standards when Clare got in touch.

To help make things right, the organisation said it has offered a gesture of goodwill to reimburse the couple for the money they lost.

It added: “Bad actors operating on third party websites have nothing to do with airbnb.”

Facebook said it was sorry Clare and Darren were misled, and advised users to report suspicious listings so the organisation can take action.

Express.co.uk has contacted Facebook and Airbnb asking for comment.





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