Hidden cameras are everywhere these days, often where you least suspect them. That was a lesson one Korean couple learned the hard way when they found a secret recording device in a most unfortunate place – the home that they were renting on vacation.


The Japanese Airbnb: What Happened?

A couple from Korea was visiting Japan for a few days and decided to save money by staying in an Airbnb. After a day of heavy traveling, they returned to their rented home to get a good night’s sleep – and made a shocking discovery in the process.

When all of the lights in the room were turned out, they noticed a green light coming out of a smoke detector high up in one corner of the room. Upon closer examination, it turned out that this wasn’t a smoke detector at all – it was a “dummy” device that was actually hiding a secret camera inside. The smoke detector actually had a tiny camera lens inside that was pointed directly toward the bed the Korean couple was sleeping on. The green light indicated that the device was actively recording everything going on in the room.

After taking the device down off the wall and tearing it apart, they found a small microSD memory card inside. After putting that card in a computer, they pulled up crystal clear footage of everything that had been happening inside the room for the last few days.

To make matters worse, this was not the couple’s first time staying in this particular Airbnb. They had stayed in the same house once before on a previous trip to Japan. They immediately called both the South Korean Embassy in Japan and the local police department who drove them to a different hotel to stay for the duration of their trip.

To its credit, Airbnb said in a statement that they have a zero-tolerance policy toward privacy infringements of this kind. However, had it not been for the couple’s suspicions, the problem would have gone totally unnoticed. Likewise, nobody knows how long the camera had actually been there and how many other guests that it had spied on.

Airbnb: Breaking It Down

To put events like this into perspective, it’s important to get a better understanding of the current state of the company – and how fast it’s growing. According to one website, Airbnb has accommodated over 60 million people to date in more than 34,000 cities around the world. What once started as a rental opportunity for a single air mattress in San Francisco has now grown into a company valued at $24 billion.

There were three million different listings live on the Airbnb site in March of 2017, with more being added every second. The company itself is responsible for about 500,000 stays per night, and there are 173,000 active listings in the United States alone. Most interestingly, Airbnb users are predominantly women – it is estimated that 54% of all guests are female, versus 46% that are male.

Though the issue with the Korean couple and the hidden camera in a Japan Airbnb seems to be an isolated incident, common sense dictates that it is probably not. With hidden cameras and other surveillance technology “racing to the bottom” in terms of price, all while becoming more technologically advanced at the same time, it’s easier than ever for someone to install a recording device in a location without anyone else becoming aware of it.

Always take precautions when you’re staying in an environment like an Airbnb  especially if it’s a location that someone normally uses as their home. You never know where a hidden camera might be, so always be on the lookout for signs of suspicious activities, and if your instincts are telling you that something odd might be up, it is in your own best interests to listen to them.