Toronto police say Airbnb is being used for human trafficking

Published: February 23, 2018

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Luke Jones

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Home-sharing rental platform Airbnb is increasingly being used in human trafficking cases and the trend is growing, Toronto Police warned. The company has already faced rental insurance and home insurance, problems, but Airbnb is now being used to far more nefarious ends.

Det. Sgt. Nunzio Tramontozzi said authorities have seen a significant increase in human trafficking cases related to Airbnb over the last two years. Criminals are choosing the service over motels or other places because anonymity is easier through Airbnb.

Citing a recent case, Tramontozzi explained how two 18-year old men forced a 19-year old woman into the sex trade. Most business was carried out though Airbnb properties in the Greater Toronto Area.

The detective warns customers listing properties on the platform to take more care in checking renters. Airbnb responded by saying it worked directly with police in Toronto on the case and is serious about preventing human trafficking.

“Airbnb is strongly committed to working with law enforcement officials and anti-trafficking advocates to prevent these horrible crimes and to help hold criminals accountable,” a spokeswoman said.

Tramontozzi admitted Airbnb has been helpful and described the relationship between the company and police as good. However, he said authorities are concerned about the growing trend towards using Airbnb in such crimes.

“We’re seeing an emerging trend with human traffickers using more Airbnbs in the city of Toronto and the GTA,” he said. “It’s more anonymous for them, so it’s a lot easier not to be caught by the police when they’re in these private type of residences rather than hotels and motels where we could get more information.”