We were scammed out of £500 after staying in a filthy Airbnb flat
There were pubes on the bedsheets
Three girls had a holiday from hell after losing £500 on a fake apartment, staying in a filthy room and then getting hacked when they got home.
Photographer Lauren Dudley and Nottingham student Danielle Whitman decided to take their friend Amy Ridgeway away for her birthday and booked a place to stay on Airbnb.
But just one day before their trip to Amsterdam, the girls discovered their booking was a scam and their £502 payment and £200 security deposit had been lost.
When they eventually got home from their nightmare trip the pain didn’t stop there as they found the account they used to book the apartment had been hacked.
Chichester grad Lauren told The Tab: “We’ve been best friends with Amy for 20 years, so for her 21st birthday we decided to take her to Amsterdam because she’d never been before.
“It wasn’t until the day before our holiday that I realised we didn’t know where to pick up the keys or meet the apartment owner.
“She just wasn’t replying.”
Lauren called Airbnb, who eventually told her the apartment they’d booked was actually a fraud – and the girls were given a credit note to spend.
With just 12 hours to go before their flight, the girls had to find a place to stay.
She said: “Late notice meant there was nothing for that price anymore and the good or cheap places had already gone.
“We were up until 1am the night before but found a woman who said we could stay.”
The girls had to pay £60 extra for the room and £100 when they arrived, but were just happy they’d finally found a room.
Lauren said: “We walked to what was supposed to be our apartment, but it was just a room above a kebab shop.
“It was the loudest thing I’ve ever heard in my life which was open until 4am.
“Everyone pushed through – stressed, tired and grumpy by this point.
“We even had to share a bathroom with three other boys, which wasn’t explained to us beforehand.”
When the girls decided to have a nap, they found small hairs in the beds.
Lauren said: “As soon as we got in there were quite literal pubes all across the bedsheets and obvious make-up stains.”
She quickly called Airbnb to explain the situation, and the owner sent in a cleaner to change the bed.
She said: “The cleaner arrived and was very rude
“At first he tried to claim he’d changed the bed, then blamed us for turning up early.”
Despite all the initial problems, the three girls managed to make the most out of their time in Amsterdam.
Lauren said: “We were upbeat about it all and didn’t let it ruin the holiday – that was the end of the first stressful situation.”
But a week after they all returned home, Lauren started getting emails from Airbnb users asking if they could rent an apartment in London.
She said: “I don’t have an apartment in London – I wish a did!
“I was blocked out my account so they wouldn’t let me in.”
What’s more, it turned out hackers had taken control of Lauren’s Airbnb profile and had even broken into her email.
She said: “I saw someone deleting emails right in front of my face.
“It was just Airbnb emails they were targeting, almost as if they thought I hadn’t seen them.
“This should have been setting alarms off for the company, but all Airbnb were interested in was getting me back into my account.
“I was left panicking how far the hackers had gone? Had they got into my Facebook, Twitter and phone too?
“So the hackers know my age, my passport photos – everything.”
Lauren was left without her £200 security deposit, but says she is most angry about not getting an apology from Airbnb.
“We’ve never had a problem with Airbnb before, so I’m wondering if it was just a terribly bad experience.”
A spokesman for Airbnb said users should report anyone asking them to pay outside of their site, and that the firm would never ask someone to pay via an email.
He said: “Airbnb protects hosts and guests by handling all payment and communication through our secure platform.
“When you keep your payment and communication strictly on the Airbnb platform, payments are accurate and your account is secure.
“It’s one of the reasons that so many hosts and guests book through Airbnb.
“We proactively educate new customers on the importance of keeping their payments and communications strictly on the Airbnb platform, and our global Trust and Safety team works 24/7 to protect our community and prevent attempts at fraud.
“In the interest of providing excellent customer service we have been in close contact with the guest and are providing our full support.
“We advise our community to keep all payments and communication on the platform, where their money is secure.”
He added that it was extremely rare for hosts and guests to experience problems with properties rented through Airbnb.
All photos by Lauren Dudley photography.