WASHINGTON - Four D.C. roommates said they had their property taken, their home trashed and drugs used inside after con artists rented their place through Airbnb.
“They had trashed the place,” said Aaron Myer. “There were ten people inside. Initially we thought there would be four or five people.”
What was supposed to be just another Airbnb rental turned into a luxury trap house.
"He invited people to the party and smoking weed in the house,” said Myer. “Broken property. Stole thousands of dollars in clothing, jewelry, two laptops.”
A trail left behind on social media shows three men posing inside the home with sneakers that belonged to these roommates.
Also missing from their Northwest D.C. home was a personal check that was quickly cashed in for more than $1,200.
The owner of the home had arrangements with the four roommates to leave the house for three days so he could book the Airbnb rental. An Instagram post showed the trap house tenants already planned to extend their stay an extra three days.
That plan was quickly halted when one of the roommates came home to find more than a dozen people inside the trashed home. He then called D.C. police.
"We did not leave with the feeling that this was a priority,” Myer said. “I know no one was shot. There was no blood here. But still, our safe space has been violated completely.”
Instead, the roommates set off to investigate themselves.
"We had actually dug through all the trash and found, I guess, the money pot where they had empty checks and things sent to them, and we went through them and we then gave them to the police,” said Myer.
One of the men tagged the home's kitchen wall with the word “swindle” – although misspelled. But it is fitting for the evidence left behind: a laptop that seemed to have been previously stolen.
"Found the conversation, ‘Hey man, I need some money. Find the card. This is how you do it.’" Myer described.
The digital notes on that laptop links to bank accounts in South Carolina with more than $15,000. There were also debit cards with random names bent and discarded at the home along with bags that once contained checkbooks. They are all clues that appear to lead to serial scammers.
"I hope other people who maybe thinking about doing something like this can see the type of disruption they have caused the people who really just want to help and live their lives,” said Myer.
A spokesperson for Airbnb sent FOX 5 DC the following statement after this story aired:
“There have been more than 200 million guest arrivals in Airbnb listings to date and negative incidents are extremely rare. Airbnb has zero tolerance for this type of behavior and we immediately removed this user from our community. We are fully supporting our host for the losses they incurred and we have reached out to local law enforcement to assist them with their investigation. The safety of the Airbnb community is the most important thing we work on every day.”
The spokesperson also passed along these recommended safety tips for Airbnb hosts:
1. Set Requirements for Your Listing: Each and every person on Airbnb has a detailed profile page with information about themselves. In order to sign up for Airbnb, you must provide a full name, date of birth, photo, phone number, and email address. Hosts can choose to require that their guests provide Airbnb a government ID before booking their listing, which then requires you as a host to do so as well.
2. Get To Know Your Guest in Advance: On the Airbnb platform, we have a safe and easy way for hosts to get to know their prospective guest before confirming a reservation. Our secure messaging tool lets you ask each other questions, and set clear expectations for the stay.
3. Read Previous Community Reviews: You also have our global community to rely on. If you’re curious what a previous host’s experience has been with a potential guest, all you need to do is check their reviews ahead of time. Both guests and hosts publicly review each other and only do so after the reservation is complete, so you know the feedback is informed, unbiased, and real.