Booking a Room Online? Learn from Another Woman's Mistakes - Atlanta News, Weather, Traffic, and Sports | FOX 5

Booking a Room Online? Learn from Another Woman's Mistakes

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This image shows a Google image search for the condo photo This image shows a Google image search for the condo photo
DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. -

Meet a young woman who thought she did everything right when booking a trip online. But, nope. In no time, she was out a lot of money. She used an online service that is really growing in popularity. It's called AIRBNB.

It's a new twist on renting a place to stay while out of town, but unfortunately, it has some of the same old pitfalls.

An AIRBNB Web promo explains just how it works: "This place isn't mine. But I'm staying here for the weekend. It's not a hotel and I had never met my host before yesterday. So how did I end up here? I booked it on AIRBNB."

If you're new to this, AIRBNB is where people who need accommodations connect with people willing to rent their homes, or sometimes just a room.

AIRBNB is where Tommie Marie Fowler decided to book her birthday weekend in Miami.

"Yes, have some fun. Let our hair down," she said.

The DeKalb County woman registered on the site, filled out a profile and put a credit card on file. Very quickly, the party of eight uncovered this gem: perfect place, perfect price.

"The viewing is amazing. Pumped. We were like, this is it. We're doing it, hands down. We're not looking at anything else."

So she pulled up her AIRBNB app and asked to reserve it.

"I just went in there, tapped the button, 'I want this place', three nights in Miami, give it to me," said Tommie Marie Fowler.

The home's host, listed as Jessie Garcia, had one request: In addition to the official communication through the AIRBNB site the host wanted Tommie Marie to send those messages to the host's personal email address.

"I said sure no problem." She said she wasn't worried because she had cc'd AIRBNB on all communication.

She says she got a rental confirmation from Jessie Garcia through what she believed to be the AIRBNB site. Well, it was a fake address, but she didn't know that. Then, she made the critical mistake of letting the host talk her into paying with a money order rather than her on-file credit card. And just like that, as she told police, the rental home and Jessie Garcia disappeared with her $1,655.

She called AIRBNB panicked to find out that she'd been emailing the host through a fake AIRBNB address.

"Yeah, he was, like, everything looks real, but he was, like, the IP address was changed a little bit. We're just AIRBNB.com. Not pay."

The fake address had added that one word to the email address and she hadn't noticed.

AIRBNB in an email to Tommie Marie wrote, "When you contact a host directly, they are able to send you "spoofed" or fraudulent emails."

In the company's Web site help section it says, "If you receive a personal email" or one that appears to be from AIRBNB asking for "payment off-site," then "report it." It's fake.

(PAGE 65) https://www.airbnb.com/help/article/199

AIRBNB gave her a refund. And, Tommie Marie admitted that next time she'll be a tougher judge of character.

Here is something we can all do when checking out an online rental. Cut and paste that picture link into the Google images search bar. Then, hit the little camera to the right. You'll see it once you get there. That will take you to all of the places that picture appears online.

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