How to foil the 'Evil Genius' scam preying on Airbnb customers

NEW YORK (WABC) -- It's a new scam, experts are calling pure "Evil Genius." The scammer preys on would-be guests to the popular on-line rental service - Airbnb. But before you fall for the cyber scam check out the three simple steps that might save you thousands.

Recent college grad Ashley Monnecka unwittingly funded a criminal's bank account.

She wired the money from her bank in Oakland, believing she was sending the cash to the owner of a cozy and modern 1-bedroom rental in Jersey City.

She saw the listing on, and spoke to the man who said he was the owner. He sent her an email instructing her to pay the two months deposit through Airbnb.

"He emailed me the contracts. When I went and saw on the Airbnb website it looked the same," Monnecka said.

Except it wasn't from Airbnb at all. She got an email, complete with bogus hyperlinks, to a fake website, cleverly disguised to mimic every detail of the real Airbnb.

Ashley was convinced the process was legit, and followed the instructions to send the money to an account in Europe. And within days, the scammer's bank account was closed, his email and phone were both shut down.

But by the time Ashley told her bank and Airbnb of the fraud, it was too late. Her money was already gone.

Airbnb did give us a big takeaway. It cautioned customers to never go off the Airbnb website for any part of the transaction. That means don't email any other party and never pay anyone while off the actual Airbnb website. That means never wiring money or using money cards as a modes of payment. null
Copyright © 2019 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.