How to recognize a professional scammer? By his actions!
He might be of any age, any nationality and cultural background... He might provide you with his passport, driver's license (do you even know they are not fake?) He can be friendly or quiet, look decent... The most important is not how he looks like, but his actions. And they might be the following:
1) starts with too many complaints right away
One or two complaints should not be the problem. Many people are not good with maps or its first time to travel. Some expect the standards of their country and not yours. What really sets different a scammer from normal guest, who is upset, is that he starts immediately with complaints for unjustifiable reasons, there are too many of them and it feels like bombing.
Some of these complaints are out of your control. Like too many people in your country (overpopulated). Why the transportation to your place was bad. Once he enters your place, you feel like he is paid investigator trying to catch on any possible and impossible fault you might have and not as a guest who just wants to have a rest.
Remember, that he already had a plan in his head. Thats why all his actions feel so unnatural, planned, prepared... Sudden and unexpected. Sincere people think after several days why they didn't answer like Socrates right away, and scammers come with well prepared phrases.
This is all done in order to have "reasons" that will make a sense in paragraph 2.
2) money back or...
Full refund or at least majority of payment is expected from you. This is not kind of a guest who didn't like your breakfast and simply asks for breakfast money to be returned to him.
Professional scammer asks all money back, 100%! Or at least 80%. He is not looking for compromise and 50% back sounds as insult to him.
Reasons? Those complaints in paragraph 1.
I will call police. I will whatever... But when you offer him to at least to call Booking he never does so. Classics is "I will leave you a bad review!"
4) involves people into conflict
Saying bad things about you in front of your family or staff is normal thing for scammer. Again, thinking that you will be "ashamed" and will give him money back is his target.
5) brings extra people for free
Not all scammers want to stay for free. Some of them are willing to pay for one room as long you provide the second room for free.
Expect 6 or 10 people arrive instead of 3 in reservation. Again, they will never call Booking to find their "missing reservation" and those people are needed to serve as witnesses for your unbelievable faults as a host in order to extort money or at least get second room for free.
6) cancels his reservation right after check in
Arriving late and being friendly... After you leave at 1am, he immediately cancels the reservation so he can stay for free.
What do you expect from the host that still needs to travel to his place at 1am? Right. He wants to sleep and might overlook the canceled reservation. While someone stayed for free in his place. The sad part is that Booking will not fight for any canceled reservation. What to fight for?
7) targets middle class property (2 or 3 stars)
Staying at the hostel? Excuse me, that's not a lifestyle of a scammer! He will do his best to maintain his luxury lifestyle.
The problem is that luxury places like 5 star hotels have all the facilities and staff to fight those VIP individuals. It's scary to go to 5 star hotel. 2 or 3 star is just right for the scammer.
8) scammers respect their time and rest well
After bombing you with accusations scammer turns off his phone and peacefully goes to sleep. His good rest is a must while you are depriving yourself from sleep thinking deeply what you have done wrong...
9) sends fake messages as a "proof"
Many guests will not communicate with the host especially if they book on Booking. They love a certain distance, which is considered as respect to the host and protection of the guest's privacy.
But this case is not about the scammer. He bombs you on WhatsApp with your "faults" and even sends you unbelievable messages on Booking despite you doing anything wrong. This is done in order to show to Booking "the proof".
In such scenario he avoids being personal in Booking messages as he is scared of going against Booking rules. But in personal messages he can go as far as his anger will allow him to.
10) opts for double payment
Classic of Booking - asks to issue you a receipt, which seems as very normal request. Later on he uses this receipt to dispute his credit card payment with his bank. The result of it will be very disappointing - you will not be paid by Booking. Your fault...
What to do?
1) Read this forum to learn from other hosts, it's direct source! I got my lessons here that protected me from possible scammers.
2) Investigate. When I did research on those people, I found out that staying for free was their lifestyle. My staff was about to give them money back because it was too much of pressure on them.
One scammer was staying for free just in next building. Second one is super professional. He travels the world and stays for free in Dubai hotels. I wrote to managers there and they confirmed that they had such disappointing guest.
3) Follow the rules
Respect the law in your country. It prevails over Booking. In the same time respect the Booking rules, they are easy to follow. Stay professional, don't get involved into things that scammers might provoke, such as fight or scandal.
4) Scammers are minority of guests
Scammers are so bad experience and I hope you will never experience them! In my case I had 3 scammers in 1 year.