A new police taskforce in Melbourne’s west is urging owners of short-term rentals to meet prospective guests face-to-face in the wake of two arrests in Williamstown.
Sergeant Paul Gilmour of Taskforce Wayward said a stolen credit card was used to book a Ferguson Street house for two nights through Airbnb.
“We were able to establish early that it had been booked and notified the owner and the locks were changed,” he said.
“So, basically, he revoked their rights to be there.”
But it is believed five people gained entry to the $200-a-night house about 4.30am on Sunday, September 2.
Police arrested two 18-year-old men, from Truganina and Tarneit, for trespass, criminal damage and theft.
They were interviewed by police and released pending further inquiries.
Police conducted patrols in the area on the same night and moved on several groups of youths.
Sergeant Gilmour said owners of short-term rentals needed to properly screen people booking their accommodation.
“When people book your property, don’t just take it for face value that they are who they say they are, because stolen credit cards are being used to book Airbnbs on a daily basis,” he said.
“As long as they’ve got the credit card number and the CVV number and the expiry, they can do it manually.
“That’s how they’re renting out these properties – they’re just renting them out through dodgy credit cards.
“The owner’s happy because he’s got it leased out for two nights and he leaves the keys.”
Last November, a fraudulent credit card was used to rent a beachfront house on Altona’s Esplanade for $473 a night via Booking.com.
The house was trashed during an out-of-control party, with about $150,000 of damage caused.
Detective Sergeant Robert Briz, of the Hobsons Bay Crime Investigation Unit, said the house had been rented for three nights via Booking.com using a Visa card possibly bought on the dark web.