An Airbnb host in Florida has admitted to the police that there were hidden cameras in the condo he occasionally rented out, but claims that the secretive devices were for recording his personal sex parties.
A couple from Indiana who rented an Airbnb in Longboat Key, FL, told ABC Action News that they noticed something funny about one of the smoke detectors — the husband works in tech, and spotted a black hole on the side of the device.
He took it down and realized immediately that the black hole was actually a camera, and that it was recording onto an SD card — while pointing directly at their bed. They immediately called the police to report the unauthorized surveillance.
“We seized a lot of computer storage data devices, hard drives, computers, laptops SD cards anything that would store data,” Lt. Bob Bourque told told ABC.
He adds that it’s unclear whether or not there are local victims — perhaps someone he was dating — or others who don’t realize they’ve been videotaped, including past Airbnb guests. To that end, police are now asking anyone who’s stayed at the condo or visited it to contact them. The host had been active on Airbnb for the last two years, with about 40 reviews, Bourque said.
“My wife and I are distressed by this situation. I hope more victims will come forward,” the renter who found the device told ABC. He also shared a photo of he and his wife staring up at the camera in shock.
The condo’s owner told police that the cameras — there was a second one in the living room — were put in place to record his personal sex parties and that the people at these parties had consented.
Whether that’s true or not remains to be seen, but the guests who spotted the camera certainly didn’t consent to being filmed, and the police have a pretty good question about the filming of these sex parties: “If people are consenting to recording sexual activity why is [the camera] hidden in a smoke alarm?”
The homeowner reportedly explained that this camera provided a better angle of the goings-on.
He was arrested and charged with one count of video voyeurism.
Under Airbnb’s terms of service, hosts are required to “disclose all surveillance devices in their listings,” and “any surveillance devices in certain private spaces (such as bedrooms and bathrooms)” are prohibited, regardless of whether they’ve been disclosed.
“We are outraged at the reports of what happened; as soon as we were made aware, we permanently banned this individual from our community and fully supported the affected guests,” Airbnb said in a statement. “Our team has reached out to local law enforcement to aid them with their investigation of this egregious offense and we hope justice is served. We take privacy issues extremely seriously and have a zero-tolerance policy against this behavior.