from the LA Times:
The so-called sharing economy, dominated by the likes of Airbnb, Uber and Lyft, has attracted millions of consumers. So it shouldn't surprise anyone that scammers also have turned out in force to grab a piece of the action.
"We hear often about scam attempts," acknowledged Nick Shapiro, a spokesman for San Francisco-based Airbnb. "We tell people until we're blue in the face to never go off our site and never wire people money."
The common denominators to each racket are that, at some point, the scammer will insist on communicating directly by phone or email, or will steer people to another site to complete the booking process. Then a request will be made for money to be wired to a specific address.
The services basically serve as middlemen, ensuring that everything's on the up and up. The goal of scammers, therefore, is to get the sites out of the picture and deal one-on-one with potential victims.
Shapiro said Airbnb scans images in search of tip-offs that a scam may be in the works, such as a host including his personal email address. He said all communication between a renter and host should remain on the website until a deal is struck. Contact information should only be exchanged after a booking has been made. Airbnb only makes payments available to hosts 24 hours after a guest has checked in
The site has a security section that runs down what you need to know to protect yourself.