Well, if you weren’t sure about Airbnb before, you certainly won’t be now, after a couple found a hidden camera in their Florida Airbnb, resulting in the host being charged with “video voyeurism”.
According to a story on Independent UK, traveller Derek Starnes and his wife were staying at a condominium in Longboat Key, Florida, just last month, when he noticed the smoke detector in the master bedroom looked a little fishy.
He told ABC Action News that he saw a black hole in the side of the device, and being a tech worker knew in his gut it wasn’t right. And his gut proved to be on the money, because when they took the detector down, they found a camera recording onto an SD card in it.
Per Independent UK, police were called to the property on 21 September, and found two more cameras concealed in bedroom and living room smoke detectors.
According to Longboat Key News, the camera hidden in the living room captured the sofa and dining room table, while the camera in the bedroom was pointed directly at the bed.
The publication also reported that local police also seized microphones and data storage devices from the property listed on Airbnb.
The owner was Wayne Natt, 56, who was subsequently arrested, charged with “video voyeurism”. Natt confessed to police that he uses the cameras to record sexual activity at “swingers” parties that he hosts at the property when it’s not being rented out on Airbnb, and that the recordings are taken with consent.
And while he denied he uses the cameras to perve on Airbnb guests, Starnes went ahead and made public an image he found on the SD card of both himself and his wife looking up at the camera in the bedroom, as it recorded them.
Police confirmed, per Independent UK, that the camera also had recordings of Starnes walking around the room naked, and captured audio of the couple’s conversations.
“My wife and I are distressed by this situation,” he told ABC. “I hope more victims will come forward.”
Per The Independent UK, Natt had been the property listed on Airbnb for the past two years. Speaking to The Independent, Airbnb said in a statement that it was “outraged” at the story.
They also confirmed the news outlet that they had immediately and permanently banned Natt from the site upon hearing the news.
“Our team has reached out to local law enforcement to aid them with their investigation of this egregious offence and we hope justice is served,” the spokesperson added.
“We take privacy issues extremely seriously and have a zero-tolerance policy against this behaviour.”