Arrests made after VicPD uncover scam involving Airbnb unit, fake COVID-19 exposure claim

Arrests made after VicPD uncover scam involving Airbnb unit, fake COVID-19 exposure claim

Police in Victoria arrested two men following a scam involving a claim of exposure to the coronavirus and a short-term rental unit.

On March 28, VicPD officers were called to a multi-unit residential building in the 600-block of Herald Street after the owner of one of the unit’s grew suspicious of their Airbnb guest’s claim of having COVID-19, according to a press release.

Police say the guest, an unidentified male, told the owner that they had tested positive for COVID-19 and were experiencing “severe” symptoms. At first, the owner allowed the guest to remain in their unit for free, but the owner became suspicious after learning the individual had been spotted leaving the property.

Officers eventually located the guest and discovered that he did not have COVID-19, despite his initial claims.

When police officers brought the man back to the Airbnb unit to retrieve his belongings, a second man was discovered, who was wanted on warrants. They also discovered “several thousand dollars’” worth of stolen property inside the Airbnb unit.

Both men were arrested and the man with warrants was transported to Saanich Police Department, said the press release.

Police said the investigation into this file remains underway and that officers are in the process of attempting to reunite the stolen property with the rightful owners.

The scam follows a release, sent out from police on Friday issuing a warning that scammers were attempting to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting a list of recommendations for Airbnb owners to follow in order to keep safe.

Investigators are also asking if you have information about this incident or another AirBnB COVID-19 scam, please call our non-emergency line at (250) 995-7654. To report what you know anonymously, please call Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers at 1-800-2220-8477.


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