According to police in Stockholm, pimps are using fake profiles to book apartments through Airbnb, then use the sublets for their prostitutes’ services.
Swedish police are now warning owners of apartments listed on Airbnb to beware, as a growing number of prostitutes entertain their clients in the privately owned homes.
Simon Häggström is the head of the Stockholm police unit leading investigations in Stockholm, and he says prostitutes are currently active at approximately 200 addresses on any normal day in the city. While hotels were previously their accommodation of choice, Airbnb has now given them a great alternative.
Häggström told the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter that sublet apartments are now the “largest market for prostitution in Stockholm.”
“Second-hand apartments are now the largest market for prostitution in Stockholm” https://t.co/JQSUwEsXDQ
— New York Post (@nypost) February 9, 2016
He went on to say that many of the pimps and their prostitutes were using properties advertised on economy accommodation sharing sites like Airbnb and that the pimps pose as a respectable couple to rent the properties.
“People are naive. They should think some more about who they rent out to second hand.”
Häggström told the newspaper that many of the prostitutes are young women trafficked to the Nordic countries from Eastern Europe.
According to the Local, Häggström explained to them that the police team involved in the investigation currently has four members, but he is pushing for more to expand their work, especially with the increase in Airbnb hookups by sex workers in Stockholm.
The Local quoted Pye Jakobsson, a spokesman for a group which campaigns for sex workers’ rights known as Rose Alliance Sweden, as saying it was “probably” true that the sex workers were using Airbnb rentals more frequently.
According to Jakobson, there has been a recent initiative by local government and police to train hotel staff in how to recognize prostitutes, meaning the sex workers then had to look for somewhere else to ply their trade.
“I would say it might be a result of the police’s big push to train hotel staff – so that’s out as an option. You don’t want to work from home as that means risking to lose your apartment and outcalls some feel are riskier than incalls.”
While prostitution is not illegal in Sweden, in 1999 the country became the first in the world to criminalize the act of buying sex, a move which punishes clients rather than the sex workers themselves.
“Jag uppskattar att det en vanlig dag i Stockholms län finns cirka 200 adresser där det pågår prostitution”. https://t.co/yUyk9bJk2P
— Lina Öhman (@ohman_lina) February 8, 2016
For their part, Airbnb issued a statement on Monday saying the company has a “zero tolerance policy” on sex crimes. According to a statement Airbnb emailed to the Local, over 70 million guests have booked through Airbnb and problems for the hosts and guests are “incredibly rare.”
“If problems arise, we work quickly to take care of our hosts and guests and to permanently shut down users who abuse our platform and community.”
While Airbnb says problems with their service are “incredibly rare,” The Inquisitr has reported on several horror stories, including a man who rented out a room for New Years and ended up suffering £12,000 ($17,430) worth of damage after party goers completely trashed his home.
In another story, a woman who rented a California apartment through Airbnb is suing the company after she found out a hidden camera was filming her as she walked around the apartment naked.
Possibly one of the worst is the tale of a young man who claimed his host via an Airbnb booking locked him up and sexually assaulted him in the apartment in Madrid, Spain.