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Two men arrested in COVID-19 scam at Airbnb suite in Victoria

The alleged crime involves a phoney COVID-19 patient and stolen goods
Two men allegedly were part of a COVID-19 scam at a B.C. Airbnb rental suite. File photo/Times Colonist

Victoria police have arrested two men and recovered thousands of dollars worth of stolen property after an investigation of an Airbnb scam involving a guest claiming to have COVID-19.

Officers were called to a multi-unit residential building in the 600-block of Herald Street last Saturday when the owner of an Airbnb suite became suspicious of the guest, who said he had a positive COVID-19 diagnosis and severe symptoms.

The owner let the man stay in the suite for free at first, then had concerns when he realized the man had been seen leaving the building.

Police arrived and located the guest, and ascertained that he did not have COVID-19 after all. They escorted him to the suite so he could retrieve his belongings, where they found a second man with several thousand dollars worth of stolen goods.

The men denied any knowledge of the items but both were arrested.

The investigation continues and police are trying to return the stolen goods to their owners.

Anyone with information about this or other Airbnb COVID-19 scams is asked to call Victoria police at 250-995-7654 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

A statement from Airbnb called the reported behaviour “completely unacceptable,” and said the company is in touch with the host as well as Victoria police to offer its “full support.”

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