Victoria Police arrested two men in relation to an AirBnB scam. (Black Press Media File Photo)

Two men arrested after lying about having COVID-19 to stay in AirBnb unit for free

Victoria Police found stolen goods inside the occupied unit

Two men were arrested after lying about having COVID-19 to stay for free in an AirBnB unit, where they hoarded stolen property, according to Victoria Police Department.

On March 28 Victoria police officers were called to a multi-unit residential building in the 600-block of Herald Street after an owner became suspicious about an AirBnB guest staying in their unit.

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The guest had refused to leave, telling the owner he had contracted COVID-19 and was experiencing severe symptoms.

The owner initially allowed the man to stay free of charge, but grew suspicious after observing him leaving the building.

When police arrived they learned that the man had not, in fact, ever had a test for COVID-19, and was not experiencing any symptoms.

When they escorted him back to the unit to gather his belongings they found a second man inside who had warrants for his arrest, alongside several thousand dollars’ worth of stolen property.

Both men denied any knowledge of the stolen property, which was seized.

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Both men were arrested and the man with warrants was transferred to the Saanich Police Department.

AirBnB has been made aware of the situation, and has removed the booking guest from its community.

“The reported behaviour is completely unacceptable, and we are in touch with our host as well as Victoria Police to offer our full support,” said spokesperson Charlie Urbancic in an emailed statement.

VicPD is warning AirBnB owners and members of the public to be aware of scammers attempting to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Anyone with information about this incident or another AirBnB COVID-19 scam can call the VicPD non-emergency line at 250-995-7654. To report anonymously people can call the Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers at 1-800-2220-8477.

vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca

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