MIAMI (WSVN) - A trip to the Florida Keys got off to a sour start for two groups of Boy Scouts from Georgia who said they secured accommodations through Airbnb for a house that doesn’t even exist.
Speaking with 7News on Friday, troop leader Scott Mulkey he and his troops, 5506 and 506 from northeast Georgia, had planned their Florida Keys getaway for some snorkeling, fishing and camping.
“It’s more of a once-in-a-lifetime sort of thing that most of the scouts do,” he said.
Mulkey said it was nearly impossible to contain their excitement about their upcoming outdoor adventure.
“It’s just a good time to for us to make some memories with our scouts while we can,” he said.
For part of the trip, the two troops booked two Airbnb rentals that could hold all 24 of them.
But before they even made it to South Florida, they started to realize both of their separate bookings seemed off. That’s because, Mulkey said, it appeared they had rented the same house through different hosts.
“The pictures were all exactly identical, and all for Big Pine Key,” he said.
After reaching out to Airbnb and the hosts, Mulkey said, they were told the listings were legitimate.
While they remained skeptical, the scouts were hopeful.
But once they showed up this week, they arrived to find mangroves and marshland.
“There’s no mailbox. There not anything there at all,” said Mulkey.
After finding an empty lot, Mulkey recorded a video to document his disappointment and frustration.
“It’s supposed to be a brand-new home near the beach. Exactly what is it that we’re supposed to be renting?” he said as he stood in front of the lot. “Explain to me, how is this not fraud? There’s no home here. There’s no address here. There’s absolutely nothing here.”
Ever resourceful, the scouts reorganized and paid for rooms at a hotel.
Airbnb spokesperson Ben Breit said they are going to fully refund them. In a statement, he wrote, “This type of situation is extremely rare, but when it happens, we take action to protect the integrity of our platform. To that end, these listings have been removed, and all associated hosts have been suspended pending further investigation.”
As for the scouts, they aren’t letting this hiccup ruin their plans.
“[We’re going to] hit the waters and try to leave all of this behind us, at least for now,” said Mulkey.
Airbnb will also give these families a credit for a future stay.
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