Airbnb’s BlackBox Squad deals with murders, dead bodies, assaults

Airbnb has grown from a funky, couch-surfing alternative to one of the biggest travel companies in the world. It has more listings than the top nine hotel chains combined and a $100 billion market value built on the idea that strangers can trust each other. But with so many people and so many transactions — many of which include meeting in real life — it’s inevitable that bad things will sometimes happen. Every personality conflict, payment dispute or unwanted sexual advance between hosts and guests must be mediated. But serious crimes, however rare, are treated very differently.

Read more about the Airbnb story on…

The team is tasked with providing support to guests and hosts and also working to keep the incidents out of the public eye. So who better than an Obama CIA appointee?

Nick Shapiro, ex-National Security Council adviser to Barack Obama and deputy chief of staff at the Central Intelligence Agency, worked as crisis manager for Airbnb. Examples of egregious crimes include:

  • A rape victim received a $7 million payout in exchange for agreeing not to ‘imply responsibility or liability’ on Airbnb or the host.
  • The 2016 incident saw an alleged ‘career criminal’ use a duplicate key to enter a New York City rental and attack her at knifepoint.
  • In 2018, Carla Stefaniak was murdered by a security guard at a Costa Rica Airbnb, while in 2019 five were shot dead at a mansion party in California.
  • Airbnb has spent an estimated $50 million every year on crisis payouts.

Some of the examples that happened are horrific according to the Daily Mail. In one situation an unidentified Australian woman, who was 29 at the time, and a group of friends had rented a first floor apartment on the West 37th Street, close to Times Square. According to Bloomberg, the group picked the apartment without showing any form of identification. They went to a party together, but the 29-year-old returned back to the property alone ahead of her friends. The suspect, a 24-year-old Junior Lee, was allegedly already inside the apartment hiding in the bathroom when she returned. 

Lee raped her at knife point. Lee then returned later that night when police were there and was arrested and charged with predatory sexual assault. Police stated that he had a set of keys to the apartment on him when they made the arrest. 

The incident remained unknown until now. 

Two years later, Airbnb reportedly paid the victim $7 million in an agreement that she would not blame or sue Airbnb or the host.