RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – If you’re trying to get to New Orleans to see the historic matchup between Duke and UNC, you’ll need to be careful when booking a place to stay because scammers are trying to trick you into thinking you’re staying at an Airbnb when you are not. 

New Orleans has a lot to offer, but hotels may not be one of those things right now.

Hotels are booking up fast for the Final Four matchup between Duke and UNC, so some folks are turning to Airbnb. 

However, you need to make sure you are getting the real deal because scammers are busy. 

Airbnb’s Ben Breit says they are creating imitation platforms as well as third party platforms that say they are associated with Airbnb. 

“You’ll see sites that are close to Airbnb, but it’s Airbnb dot something else [and] not dot com,” he said. “They’ll also mock up fake sites that are very convincing.”  

Recently AARP did a study of fake Airbnb sites.

It found, fake sites often use look-alike names, misspelled names, as well as using questionable techniques to get you to book with them. 

Since the teams headed to the Final Four weren’t decided until this past weekend, many people didn’t expect to be going to New Orleans. They are now scrambling to find a place to stay and may be unfamiliar with how Airbnb works and that makes the scammers job easier. 

“Unless you are on Airbnb.com, or the Airbnb app, you may be falling victim to bad guys,” said Breit. 

Here are two examples of scammer fraud when it comes to Airbnb:

  • You can’t access Airbnb listings via Craig’s list
  • Scammers will ask you to pay in advance

That’s not how Airbnb works. 

We don’t pay the host until 24 hours after a successful check-in to deter any scam artist,” said Breit.  

If someone tells you they are listing on Airbnb but are changing the way they get paid and want their money up front because so many people want to come for the game, Breit says “that’s not legit.”  

Availabilities are also changing by the minute as homes go on-and-off the site. 

“Bad actors know this, so they go through extraordinary lengths to dupe people into thinking they are on Airbnb,” said Breit.

The best way to check that you’re using Airbnb is to look at the URL. Only Airbnb.com is legit. 

Before choosing where you want to stay, make sure to do your research.

“Talk to the host,” said Breit. “How far is it from Superdome? Is it a mile, ten miles?  That makes a big difference. Is there public transportation?” 

If you find a fake site that claims to be Airbnb but isn’t, don’t just ignore it; report it here, and Airbnb can take action to have it removed. 

Also, Breit says the only people who can post reviews on the site are those who actually stayed at a listed property. No outsiders can put a fake review on Airbnb’s site.