Hidden cameras in Texas ranch spark Airbnb, VRBO lawsuits

Hidden cameras in Texas ranch spark Airbnb, VRBO lawsuits

ANAHEIM, California (NewsNation) — While vacation rental platforms have strict policies against hosts using hidden cameras on their rental properties, that hasn’t stopped some people from secretly planting them.

According to survey 2019 by real estate investment firm IPX1031, 58% of people worry about hidden cameras in their vacation rentals.

The July 2021 case involved guests staying at a Texas ranch when they discovered a hidden camera in the master bedroom and reported the incident to the Kendall County Sheriff’s Office.

A. Jay Allee, Airbnb ranch host, was arrested in a November 2021 case and faces charges for allegedly filming the couple using a camera disguised as a power adapter; Investigators found more than 2,000 images of the ranch owner, the sheriff’s office said.

In the same week in early July, two other lawsuits were filed on behalf of former farm guests—both against short-term rental platform Vrbo and its parent company Homeaway, Real Deal reported.

If you don’t know what to look for, they may catch you off guard. Hidden cameras can range from compact to practically invisible to the naked eye. Small cameras can be hidden in everyday items such as pens, phone chargers, and water bottles.

NewsNation placed nine hidden cameras inside the rental property and invited two couples for a tour. The couple found out it was for the NewsNation story and were told to inspect the property as potential tenants. NewsNation wanted to see if the couple could see the camera. Watch the full video in the player above to see if the couple can spot the nine hidden cameras.

So, how can you spot hidden cameras on your next vacation? Experts share this method:

1. Buy a spy camera detector

The camera detector can scan radio frequencies connected to hidden cameras. They make a loud beeping sound when picking up the frequency of the hidden unit that transmits the video. Some also shine bright red light to reveal hidden lenses; hidden cameras reflect their own piercing point.

These can be purchased online from websites such as Amazon or a local security camera store.

2. View Wi-Fi networks

The hidden camera must be connected to a Wi-Fi network in order to be seen remotely. Experts recommend checking your local Wi-Fi network in a new location for unsecured devices.

The hidden camera might use a separate Wi-Fi network to stream live video footage; however, using a Wi-Fi scanning app, such as caught, can help detect how many networks there are in a residence. Apps like CRAZY can be used to find devices that “broadcast some sort of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi network name.

Airbnb hosts are allowed to have cameras in their homes, but they mustinform guests and cameras cannot be placed in private rooms such as bedrooms, bathrooms and bedrooms.

WILLOW TREE allow for cameras and other surveillance devices just off the property. The only exception: Smart devices that cannot be activated remotely. Guests should be notified and given the option to disable it.

It is part of an exclusive NewsNation series that covers increased surveillance and data collection through technology and by governments.

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