Investors in Airbnb arbitrage business allege they were defrauded in scheme promising 'higher returns than the stock market'
Daryn Carr is no stranger to side hustles. After his mom died from Covid in 2020, he used funds from her pension to pay off some bills and buy a car. With the remaining money, he invested in crypto and started an ATM business.
One day in 2022, while scrolling through Instagram, he came upon another opportunity. Carr found a guy named Anthony Agyeman,who was promoting a type of arbitrage on Airbnb that involved taking listings from hotel booking and short-term rental sites and relisting them on Airbnb at a higher price, retaining the profit.
Agyeman claimed in marketing materials that his business, Hands-Free Automation, had "5-year exclusivity contracts" with thousands of property owners that gave it permission to relist their properties at a higher price.
Getting involved with Hands-Free Automation, or HFA, required a payment of between $20,000 and $30,000 to effectively own a piece of Airbnb listings. Agyeman described it as a "minimal to no risk" path to extra income with a guaranteed return in three to six months of investment, "then pure profit after."
HFA has no affiliation with Airbnb but found a way to make money on the marketplace using a practice that Airbnb explicitly prohibits. Agyeman was following similar tactics that he'd used on Amazon and Shopify, where he promoted the opportunity for investors to passively own virtual storefronts.
The tech companies that own these marketplaces all say they use a combination of artificial intelligence and automation along with manual reviews to monitor vendor and customer activity for fraud and other misbehavior, but they've been ill-equipped to deal with the volume of complaints stemming from various sorts of scams.
The Federal Trade Commission and the Department of