Airbnb and Tripadvisor scammers targeting travelers


A group of online con artists are using popular travel websites to go after victims. An Airbnb account was used to steer one user to a fake version of TripAdvisor – but fortunately, he was a Malwarebytes employee and caught wind of what was happening.

The scam came to the cybersecurity firm’s notice when one of its workers attempted to use Airbnb to book an apartment in Amsterdam.

The purported flat owner then attempted to redirect him to what they claimed was Tripadvisor, saying that Airbnb was experiencing issues and that the fees on the former website were cheaper.

The advert was convincing enough – a luxury apartment in the city, owned by one Carla Taddei, available for €250 a night.

“Currently, we are encountering technical difficulties with the Airbnb calendar system, so we decided to use tripadvisor.com as our main platform,” she claimed. “Because the Airbnb platform has very high fees, I choose to use only tripadvisor.com.”

However, the Malwarebytes BroswerGuard quickly tipped off the employee to the scam, warning him not to proceed any further.

“The owner sent a follow-up email, saying the booking request had been sent out and insisting that Stefan had to pay and send confirmation before the booking could be validated,” said Malwarebytes.

He was being lured into submitting his credit card details, which would have cost the Malwarebytes employee a lot more than the €2,000 that was being asked for. Such information is meat and drink to cybercriminals, who use it to make illegal purchases at their victims’ expense.

This is not limited to Airbnb – Malwarebytes believes that it has detected 220 websites being used in the same scam, including 26 that pretend to be Tripadvisor and 194 that purport to be approved Tripadvisor accounts.

Malwarebytes advises the public to exercise due caution in all its dealings online.

“When it’s too good to be true, it’s probably not true,” it said. “Don’t fall for a ‘good deal’ that turns out to be just the opposite.”


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