Mastermind of Nationwide Airbnb Scam Indicted for Multi-Million Dollar Fraud

The notorious Airbnb host, Shray Goel, has been indicted for orchestrating a nationwide scam that left countless guests in the lurch. The grand jury in the central district of California has charged Goel with wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and criminal forfeiture, painting a picture of a cunning mastermind who manipulated the system for his own gain.

Goel, who had previously been the subject of a Vice investigation in 2019, is accused of double-booking guests across his extensive portfolio of over 100 properties. The indictment reveals a meticulously planned scheme that involved setting up separate listings for the same property at different prices. Once guests had made their bookings, Goel would then cancel the lower-priced rental, citing various excuses such as plumbing issues.

But Goel’s deception didn’t end there. If guests chose not to stay in the alternative, less appealing property, he would lie to Airbnb and other rental companies, claiming they had indeed stayed. To further solidify his fraudulent operation, Goel and his associates created fake host accounts, often posing as couples with names like “Alex & Brittany” or “Becky & Andrew,” using stock images for profile pictures.

The indictment lists 19 specific apartments where Goel carried out his alleged scam, spanning cities such as Austin, Nashville, Malibu, Denver, and Los Angeles. The communication evidence presented in the indictment includes messages sent by Goel or his partners, feigning concern over plumbing issues and offering cancellations.

If convicted, Goel could face the forfeiture of all his properties, a severe blow to his once-flourishing real estate empire. It is worth noting that Goel’s fraudulent activities were initially uncovered by investigative reporter Allie Conti, who found herself double-booked at one of his properties in Chicago. The FBI took notice of Conti’s article and subsequently launched an investigation into Goel’s activities.

While Goel’s alleged scam is shocking in its scale and audacity, it is not an isolated incident. A report from nearly a decade ago highlighted a pattern of frauds on Airbnb, with large companies creating profiles to masquerade as small property owners. At the time, Airbnb’s rules against misrepresentation were not strictly enforced, allowing scammers like Goel to exploit the system.

Goel’s website and social media portray him as an adventurer and entrepreneur, with a bio that hints at a troubled real estate empire during the pandemic. However, his recent online posts suggest a darker side to his personal struggles, including witnessing a tragic incident involving someone jumping to their death.

As the legal proceedings unfold, the victims of Goel’s scam are left to grapple with the financial and emotional fallout. The indictment serves as a stark reminder that even in the world of online rentals, trust can be easily shattered by those with ill intentions.

Author: CrimeDoor

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