With foreign trips off the cards for some time to come, it’s all about staycations, and some holidaymakers were so eager to snap up a desirable property to rent, they didn’t notice they were booking into a doll’s house on Airbnb.
Known on YouTube for their creative pranks, Josh Pieters and Archie Manners from London, decided to create a listing with pictures of a miniature home to test how carefully Airbnb check their listings, trusted by thousands of customers around the world.
The duo demonstrated how they were able to use their photography skills to capture images that made a doll’s house look like a luxurious 18th century townhouse, available to rent for £87 per night in Clapham.
Josh and Archie included a bank card in the bathroom, full sized water bottle in the hallway and ensured their reflections were captured in a mirror to show the scale of the property, but Airbnb still accepted the listing, and customers were also fooled.
Impressed viewers urged Josh and Archie to film a follow-up video showing how Airbnb responded to the prank, which racked up over £3,000 in bookings – before the duo returned the money.
Josh explained their prank aimed to test the checks Airbnb claim to use to verify properties and stop customers from being scammed. Pictured: The foyer of the doll’s house with a water bottle to show the scale – but it still passed the Airbnb vetting process
Josh and Archie took photographs of the interior of a doll’s house created by Emma Waddell, complete with working lights and real paintings and a miniature chandelier
Josh and Archie who boast over 1 million subscribers on YouTube, gushed about the miniature world Emma created (pictured)
One person wrote: ‘God you guys are so creative and such ingenious (if not terribly elaborate) ways of making a serious point… I love it!’
‘It would be interesting to do a follow up video of how Airbnb will respond when you tell them and call them out,’ another said.
In the video that has racked up over 300,000 views, Josh explained they wanted to know if Airbnb would run checks to verify their property before making it available to customers.
Josh said: ‘Back when we were allowed into other’s people’s houses, me and Archie visited a house within a house with each room smaller than an iPad screen.
‘This is the creation of interior designer Emma Waddell who has painstakingly created an entire miniature world.’
The pair offered the ‘luxurious 18th century London townhouse’ on Airbnb and were surprised when the pictures passed the site’s vetting process
Josh Pieters (pictured) and Archie Manners who live in London, have gone viral on YouTube after using a doll’s house to prank Airbnb customers
Josh (pictured) said they chose to include a water bottle and bank card in the photographs to see if Airbnb would spot the odd sizing of the property
Josh and Archie also captured their reflection in one of the photos. Pictured: The pranksters admiring a book from the doll’s house
Josh and Archie (pictured) listed the doll’s house as a 18th century townhouse available to rent for £87 per night
The YouTube star documented the impressive interior of the doll’s house including real lights and paintings and readable books.
Archie joked about customers walking up the stairs to be greeted by another doll’s house inside.
Taking photos, he and Josh included a bank card in the bathroom, full sized water bottle in the hallway and ensured their reflections were captured in a mirror to show the scale of the property.
Josh used a photograph of his mother Diana as his profile picture to give the illusion of the doll’s house being a luxurious property with a ‘grand’ host.
He then listed the address using his real location in Clapham and published it as available to book for an average of £87 per night.
‘Despite all their checks, Airbnb approved out listing,’ Josh said.
Josh explained that he chose to list the property using his mother’s name. Pictured: The bank card being placed in the bathroom
Josh and Archie used a separate Airbnb account to attempt to book the fake property for themselves as a test
Josh said within days of the listing being published, thousands of members of the public placed bookings at the ‘townhouse’
Josh was amused that he was able to book the property using a separate account and waited to see if the public would take a closer look when renting themselves.
He said: ‘In just a few days, Airbnb had taken thousands of pounds from members of the public for a completely fake listing.
‘Naturally we’ve given them their money back. But just to prove how vulnerable is to scammers, we went ahead with one of our bookings.’
Josh and Archie surprised two workmen who were looking for a last minute place to stay.
Explaining the Airbnb listing doesn’t exist, Archie said: ‘It’s not all bad news because in this envelope we have the money you paid and in the other envelope we have a 5* hotel on Park Lane.
‘So you’ll be staying there, dinner is all taken care off and breakfast tomorrow.
Josh and Archie racked up over £3,000 in bookings – but returned the sums to all but one customer
Josh explained that they chose not to cancel a last minute booking to prove that it’s possible to get scammed on Airbnb. Pictured: The doll’s house
Josh and Archie (pictured left) booked a 5* hotel to compensate the workmen (pictured right) who booked their fake listing
‘You’ve both got your own suites, so you’ll be going to Grosvenor House this evening,’ Archie said.
‘With free parking and everything. Paid for. You can enjoy wine, beer, the whole lot. I am afraid you’ve accidentally booked a doll’s house.’
The workmen in the video were left speechless and said they had never been scammed into a fake booking on Airbnb before.
Further responses to the video gushed that they would’ve also considered booking the doll’s house based on the listing.
One person wrote: ‘This is insane. I almost booked this for my birthday. I actually almost booked it no joke. I would’ve been heartbroken when I would’ve seen what it really was. Thank God I didn’t actually book’
Another joked: ‘I would have booked a stay there just to see the giant water bottle sculpture’
A stream of responses to the video admitted they would’ve also been fooled into booking the doll’s house