A woman from Florida went to stay at an AirBnB in Tulum and hoped to have a fun vacation. Instead, it was fraught with tension starting on arrival. The main guest, Amber Jackson, and her friends believed they were about to become sex trafficking victims.
First, there were the mystery splatters of paint on the door which Jackson thought looked like blood. She contacted the concierge and was told there was no cause for alarm, as it was actually paint. That didn’t allay her fears at all, but she and her friends decided to stay at the rental home as planned.
Next, Jackson noted that there was no way to lock the bedrooms. According to Apartments Apart, “she noticed that the keypads weren’t set for the rooms; it would essentially give anyone access to their rooms at any time. Jackson reconfigured the keypads herself.”
The third problem happened three days into their stay when an unknown man claiming to be a security guard loomed in front of the house. But he hadn’t been there from the start, which made the guests suspicious.
Jackson again reached out to the concierge and the owner, but wasn’t successful. She and her friends went to sleep with knives nearby and checked out the very next day.
Wild 94.1 reported that “it wasn’t until Jackson contacted AirBnB directly that she finally heard back from the homeowner who only offered her a $67 refund when the total was $3,671.65. Jackson then posted a bad review about the house on AirBnB but noticed her review was deleted.”
Fortunately, Jackson and her friends escaped unscathed. But when she shared the experience online, other women came out with similar accusations against the same owner and property. After receiving a string of bad reviews, the owner changed their name and profile picture on AirBnB.
This isn’t the vacation rental giant’s first tango with sex trafficking.
In 2020, AirBnB ramped up efforts to combat this by joining forces with Polaris, a trafficking non-profit organization. The rental company faced criticism because it wasn’t doing enough to combat the problem. In response, AirBnB rolled out a detailed plan for the protection of hosts and guests.
This included in-person host training. According to USA Today, this “would help the host community identify signals or triggers in the nature and style of the reservation, and provide action steps to report potential trafficking.”
If you plan to rent an AirBnB anywhere in the world, be aware and keep your wits about you.