A man in eastern China who placed a hidden camera in a bedroom he rented out on home-sharing platform Airbnb was exposed when he hosted a woman who recognised the equipment.
Her expertise enabled her to find the camera and call the police, who gave the man 20 days’ detention. He was listed on the platform as a “Superhost” – an experienced host regarded as a shining example – but police found that he had been filming his guests since March.
The woman, referred to by her online alias Yunfei, told Beijing Youth Daily she worked in Internet and information security, and always checked her hotel rooms. She said that when she arrived at the man’s flat in Qingdao in Shandong province last Wednesday night, she soon spotted something unusual.
“I found a motion sensor monitor at the flat’s entrance and two in the two bedrooms, which is odd since the flat had not been renovated for smart-home automation,” she said.
“I turned the sensors to face the wall and covered them with stickers.”
She proceeded to check the smoke detectors and television, which are often used to place hidden cameras, and cut the power supply to the television. When she picked up the router, which faced a bed, she found a light that looked unusual and suspected it was a hidden camera.
“I checked it carefully and found the line arrangement was different from the usual ones,” she said.
By comparing the router with a picture of the product, she realised it had been altered, before unscrewing it and finding a digital memory card inside.
“I immediately called the police after finding the card,” she said. “They came and took away the equipment.”
She did not return to the flat, which had accommodated many guests and cost her 1,700 yuan (RM1,043) for a three-night stay. She said she had not met the host in person and had communicated with him online about checking in and the WiFi password.
Airbnb said the man’s flat had been removed from its platform. “We sincerely apologised to the client and have taken the flat off the apartment listings,” an Airbnb spokeswoman told Beijing Youth Daily.
The spokeswoman said the company had been contacted when the woman called the police, and had refunded her money. – South China Morning Post