This is the story of how one woman lent too much money to a stranger she had never met in person before, and how he managed to scam her through the Couchsurfing app.
We’ll call the couchsurfer Diego. He requested to stay at a host’s apartment in Panama City. When she offered him a weekend, he demanded the whole week. At the El Dorado airport in Bogota, he was denied boarding because he didn’t have proof of onward travel, which is a basic requirement to get into Panama – so he started texting his future host to buy him a plane ticket out of Panama that he would pay her back for because his bank card just “wasn’t working.”
She obliged – and this is where it all started going downhill. Diego never had the money to pay her back and turned out to be a casanova who lived as a beg-packer – depending on the trust and generosity of couchsurfing hosts like this one. During his time with her, he sent shirtless selfies to her best friends and was indecent with many others.
As he kept making attempts to spend her money, she got the feeling that she was part of a scam, and took a closer look at his Couchsurfing profile – only to see he had been doing this for the last three years. There were hosts he had stayed with for nearly 60 days.
Even though she got him the ticket to leave, he was again denied boarding – at least, that’s what he told her when he showed up at her door again in the middle of the night, without warning. He thought she would take him in, but he was wrong; she said no, and gave him a list of hostels where he could stay.
It took a lot of back and forth, some social media blocking, and threats to involve the Argentinian embassy and police – all of which might have been a good idea, ultimately – but in the end, the host prevailed in getting her money back. When Diego returned to deliver it, he even brought her a “brand new” tea set as an apology.
The moral of the story? Research the profiles of couchsurfers well before you agree to let them stay with you. And if anything seems fishy, even if it isn’t completely clear – trust your gut and avoid them!