June 14, 2024 The Best Source of News, Culture, Lifestyle for Culver City, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Palms and West Los Angeles

Two Men Indicted for $8.5M Airbnb Scam: Online Rental Fraud Exposed

Bait-And-Switch Scheme on Popular Rental Platforms Revealed

By Dolores Quintana

Two men have been indicted on federal fraud charges, accused of running a double-booking, bait-and-switch scam through popular online property rental platforms, primarily Airbnb. The Justice Department revealed today that the scam, which involved misleading listings and fraudulently canceling reservations, brought in more than $8.5 million, including instances of discrimination against Black individuals.

Shray Goel, 35, of Miami, and Shaunik Raheja, 34, of Denver, face charges related to fraud in connection with over 10,000 reservations tied to nearly 100 properties across 10 states. The superseding indictment accuses them of owning and operating a short-term property rental business, defrauding Airbnb, Vrbo, and guests renting properties through these platforms.

Goel, initially charged on December 13, was arrested in Florida on December 27 and released on bond the next day. Raheja was added as a defendant in the superseding indictment, and both are expected to be arraigned in the United States District Court in Los Angeles in the coming weeks.

The indictment alleges that the defendants used various names, including Abbot Pacific LLC, to carry out the fraudulent scheme. They owned and leased properties across the United States, managing nearly 100 properties by 2019.

To execute the scheme, Goel and Raheja allegedly double-booked properties through multiple listings on Airbnb and Vrbo, creating last-minute excuses, such as plumbing problems, to cancel overbooked guests or deceive them into moving to inferior accommodations. The indictment also claims they profited from a secret bidding war for properties, posting multiple listings at different prices and canceling or switching lower-paying guests to different properties.

The superseding indictment further alleges racial prejudices and discrimination in deciding which guests to keep or cancel. The defendants purportedly avoided renting to guests they perceived as Black.

“This deplorable scheme victimized thousands of consumers and families across the country, some of whom allegedly were discriminated against because of racial bias,” said United States Attorney Martin Estrada.

The defendants face charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft. Each wire fraud charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison, with an additional two-year mandatory sentence for the aggravated identity theft counts.

The FBI and FDIC-OIG are leading the investigation, with assistance from the Federal Housing Finance Agency – Office of Inspector General. Airbnb and Vrbo are cooperating with the government in the ongoing investigation.

Related Posts

Marina del Rey Sportfishing: A Great Day on the Water

June 14, 2024

June 14, 2024

Fishing is a pastime like no other. You can experience the nostalgia of that pastime in real time at Marina...

University of Miami President to Replace Gene Block Amid Controversy

June 14, 2024

June 14, 2024

Julio Frenk Named New UCLA Chancellor at UC Regents Meeting The search for a new chancellor at UCLA is over....

Culver City Police Collaborate with VA and LASD to Aid Unhoused Veteran

June 14, 2024

June 14, 2024

Joint Efforts Lead to Successful Assistance for a Veteran in Need The Culver City Police Mental Evaluation Team collaborated with...

West Hollywood Kicks Off WeHo Pride Arts Festival This Weekend

June 14, 2024

June 14, 2024

Celebration Features Diverse LGBTQ+ Events From June 14-16 Each year, the City of West Hollywood celebrates the artistic contributions of...

30th Anniversary of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman Murders Commemorated with Virtual Vigil

June 13, 2024

June 13, 2024

Family Honors Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman in Virtual Candlelight Vigil This week marks the 30th anniversary of the...

Culver City PRCS Hosts Summer Splash Kick-Off Event

June 13, 2024

June 13, 2024

Join PRCS for Fun-Filled Recreational Swim Activities The Parks, Recreation, and Community Services (PRCS) department of Culver City is gearing...

Students for Justice in Palestine Establish Third Encampment on the UCLA Campus on June 10

June 12, 2024

June 12, 2024

UCLA Administration Calls in Four Police Groups Within Two Hours, Arrests 27 Pro-Palestinian protesters briefly established a third encampment on...

Los Angeles City Council Postpones Vote on Marilyn Monroe’s Former Home

June 12, 2024

June 12, 2024

Decision on Historic Monument Status Rescheduled for June 26  After Judge James Chalfant issued a preliminary decision on the motion...

AMC Theatres Unveils Eight Money-Saving Deals for Summer Movie Season

June 12, 2024

June 12, 2024

Enjoy Discounted Tickets, Special Promotions, and Fan Favorites at AMC If you are a movie lover who has not been...

Hang-Ten Therapeutics-Surf Therapy for Kids: Catching Waves and Finding your Calm

June 12, 2024

June 12, 2024

A different type of therapy is making waves in Los Angeles. Hang-Ten Therapeutics, founded by Naomi Matanick, a licensed pediatric...

(Video) The Opening of Pico Roots Marketplace in Santa Monica

June 12, 2024

June 12, 2024

Lots of friendly vendors with wonderful gifts, cards, clothing, decor, and coffee beans available at 1819 Pico Boulevard. @culvercitywlanews The...

Tien Pham Connects Personal History with Role in Robert Downey Jr.’s “The Sympathizer”

June 11, 2024

June 11, 2024

Family’s Harrowing Escape From Vietnam Mirrors the Acclaimed HBO Max Series Vietnamese American actor-musician-producer Tien Pham finds a deep connection...

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Debuts Refreshing Summer Menu with New Boba and Matcha Drinks

June 11, 2024

June 11, 2024

Enjoy Four New Beverages and Exclusive Boba Happy Hours from June 10 to June 13 The Coffee Bean & Tea...

FDA Issues Warning on Potentially Contaminated Shellfish from Oregon and Washington

June 11, 2024

June 11, 2024

Shellfish From These Areas Carries Risk of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning The FDA has issued an alert advising consumers, restaurants, and...

(Video) Pro-Palestine Student Protesters at UCLA Set Up a Third Encampment on Monday Afternoon

June 11, 2024

June 11, 2024

UCPD and the UCLA Administration almost immediately called in UCPD, LAPD, Culver City Police Department and California Highway Patrol officers....