May 4, 2018 Athens - Students cheer as they move their tassels during the 2018 spring undergraduate commencement ceremony at Sanford Stadium in Athens on Friday, May 4, 2018. An estimated 7,000 students are expected to walk in the 2019 commencement ceremonies. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Airbnb warns UGA commencement guests about fake lodgings

Airbnb on Wednesday warned people booking lodging through its service for the University of Georgia’s commencement ceremonies next week to be careful to avoid potential scammers posing as the company.

 “Education is key and awareness is key,” Airbnb spokesman Ben Breit said in a telephone interview.

Airbnb officials said it expects the commencement to be one of the biggest booking events of the year in Athens. Nearly 7,000 undergraduate and graduate students are scheduled to walk at UGA’s commencement ceremonies, scheduled for May 10, the university said. Tickets are not required for either ceremony. ABC News correspondent Deborah Roberts is the keynote speaker for the undergraduate ceremony. Loch Johnson, Regents Professor of Public and International Affairs, will address the graduate ceremony.

The company urged potential guests to do research beforehand, such as thoroughly read the host’s profile, read prior reviews and to use pay through Airbnb.

Airbnb didn’t have specific numbers detailing how many fake posts its seen, but pointed to past cases such as a situation in February 2017 where an Alpharetta woman paid $1,800 for a rental property but never got the keys to the place.

“There's a really easy solution to this -- stay on the Airbnb platform, book on the Airbnb platform, pay on the Airbnb platform, communicate on the Airbnb platform....and you'll know it's legit and we've got you protected,” Breit said.

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