This article in the New York Times outlines in detail the plan behind a scheme to rent illegal listings on Airbnb, circumventing state and local laws and Airbnb’s own rules.
According to the article, one building it investigated was part of a larger enterprise that made more than $20 million in revenue by unlawfully renting 130 Manhattan apartments to almost 76,000 guests through Airbnb, contravening regulations intended to stop blocks of apartments being turned into makeshift hotels avoiding lodging taxes and any safety or quality oversight. The highest-earning building netted more than $1.8m/year.
The article describes how the ring used multiple identities to text tourists and book them apartments, while they also fudged addresses and recruited a team of cleaners through Facebook. In total the gang created more than 100 Airbnb ‘hosts’ and 18 corporations to run what was an illegal hotel business according to a lawsuit brought by the city. Some landlords claimed they were deceived, renting apartments to Mr. Beckman and his partners without knowing the units would be used as hotel rooms.