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    A woman browses the site of US home sharing giant Airbnb on a tablet in Berlin on April 28, 2016.

    'Sex Ring' Spying? British Couple Discover Hidden Camera in Airbnb Apartment

    © AFP 2018 / John Macdougall
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    The latest scandal to rock the “online hospitality service” has erupted in Canada, as some analysts suggest its growth has perhaps fatally disrupted traditional hotel business.

    A British couple were horrified to discover their Airbnb apartment was equipped with a 'spy camera' pointing directly at their shared bed.  The pair found the device concealed in a digital clock at the home in Toronto, Canada after a day out in the city. They said the camera was "connected to a wire like a phone charger", and feared it may have recorded video footage of them.

    The couple had only been in the property for 20 minutes, following a day-long tour of the city. However, the clock quickly caught their attention as it looked "creepy" and suspicious.

    "I'd seen a video on Facebook about cameras and how they could be hidden and they had a clock with one in it, too. I kept telling myself not to be daft, but there was just something. I took the charger out of it and saw there was a lithium battery in the back. I slid the front facing off the clock and could see there actually was a camera. [It] was facing into the living area and open-plan bedroom, so it could see everything. We didn't know if the owner had been watching. We thought it might be for something sinister like a sex ring," they told Scottish newspaper The Daily Record.

    The pair immediately alerted Airbnb, which immediately launched a investigation into the incident — although they guests have already been awarded a full refund, put up in a nearby luxury hotel, and all upcoming reservations at the property have been cancelled. Local law enforcement were also informed, and are likewise investigating.

    Repeat Offense

    The Airbnb host is said to have six other properties, which have generated hundreds of positive reviews from guests. The British couple were evidently lucky to find the camera so quickly after check-in — and they join a large and ever-growing number of aggrieved Airbnb customers who've endured horrifying stays using the platform.

    Airbnb has much controversy in New York in their short term rentals
    Airbnb has much controversy in New York in their short term rentals
    Their case is very similar to that of a couple from Indiana, who went on holiday in Longboat Key, Florida town in 2017. Again, not long after checking in, they spotted an unusual hole in the bedroom's smoke detector — closer inspection revealed a camera pointed directly at the bed.

    The couple immediately notified local police, who arrested the host — who'd been letting the property via Airbnb for two years at that point — on charges of video voyeurism. Under questioning, he admitted the camera had been installed growth has sexual activity, but claimed all guests were aware they were filmed. Investigations into whether the host recorded himself engaging in sexual activity are ongoing.

    Diddly Squatter

    However, it's not always hosts that are the problem. In 2014 for instance, a woman in San Francisco Bay Area rented out her condo to an individual on an ‘extended business trip' — but eventually had to hire a lawyer to evict him. The guest signed up to stay for 44 days, but on the second complained of ‘cloudy' tap water and demanded a full refund — despite refusing to leave the property. The host decided to let him remain for the duration of his 44-day stay, but when check out time loomed, he still refused to depart.

    When she sent him a text message saying she'd cut off the utilities if he didn't get out, he threatened to sue her. The host eventually hired a lawyer to evict the guest — but while Airbnb paid her in full for the man's stay, they didn't support her in her legal battles, which took several months and around US$5,000 in lawyer fees to complete.

    Brothel Bother

    In 2012, two women hosting their Stockholm apartment over a four-week holiday returned home to find a note from police stating their apartment had been raided for prostitution. It transpired their residence had been used a ‘temporary brothel' by guests — upon bursting through the front door, law enforcement officials had found two prostitutes in flagrante with clients.

    Searches uncovered pubic hair in various nooks and crannies, and a plastic bag full of used condoms. When the pair reported the incident, Airbnb put them up in one of the Swedish capital's most expensive hotels while arrangements were made for the property to be professionally cleaned. The homeowners were said to "feel uneasy" about being in their apartment after the incident.

     

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    Tags:
    Airbnb, cloud economy, spycam, gig economy, Airbnb, Canada, United Kingdom
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