A year ago, Airbnb and a handful of other ride-sharing services were hailed as a new model for letting travelers get around the world.
Today, they are facing a number of legal problems, including accusations of facilitating a crime.
The Federal Trade Commission, the Justice Department and other government agencies are investigating whether the companies are breaking federal laws against deceptive advertising and unfair business practices.
Airbnb is facing a series of lawsuits from people who say they were defrauded by misrepresentations and other misstatements.
The companies say their services are necessary to bring the Internet into the homes of people who can’t afford a hotel room.
But in some cases, they’re proving they’re not providing a good value.
Read more The latest court case against Airbnb comes from a California woman who is seeking $15 million from Airbnb for defrauding her of $5,000 she paid for a room at a resort in California, The Associated Press reported.
“It’s about the truth,” Lisa K. Lee, a lawyer for the woman, told the AP.
“There’s no way that we can claim that we were charging an inflated price.”
Airbnb has repeatedly said it’s not involved in the crime, but some legal experts say that’s not the case.
A recent ruling by a federal appeals court in Texas could force the company to reveal how many of its users are actually using the service to book a room.
The company’s website says it’s “not a place to book hotels.”
Airbnb’s founder, Brian Chesky, told Reuters last year that the company had only a few thousand users.
The court has heard evidence that the majority of those are in California and New York.
Airbnb’s own lawsuit against Lee, who is suing for defamation, argues that she’s a victim of deception and is being victimized by “an industry-wide fraud scheme.”
Airbnb spokeswoman Brooke Smith said that while the company is not involved with the legal proceedings, it was disappointed with the outcome.
“We are disappointed that Ms. Lee is suing Airbnb in the first place,” she said.
Airbnb did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Airbnb said it had been working with the court to determine what to do next.
In its lawsuit against the woman and the resort, Airbnb claims that she misrepresented the dates and location of the rooms.
Airbnb also alleges that Lee was defraudming its hosts and that the companies “willfully and intentionally misled its users.”
Airbnb said the lawsuit was “baseless and malicious,” and that it has since changed its policies.
In an email, Airbnb said that it’s taken measures to improve its customer service.
“As an industry, we know that the most effective way to help people get around is by working together with governments and regulators, and we have,” the company wrote.
“The fact that Ms Lee was misled is a clear example of that, and our policies are designed to help our hosts keep their properties secure.”
Airbnb was founded in 2005 and has been criticized for letting hosts book their rooms for a fee.
In July, Airbnb agreed to pay $250 million to settle a class-action lawsuit filed by the National Restaurant Association, a group that represents more than 2 million restaurant workers and other consumers.
The settlement included a $10 million fund to help compensate consumers who lost out.
Airbnb has faced criticism for the practice of charging hosts a fee to book rooms and then charging them fees to make up the difference.
Airbnb told regulators that the practice violated federal law.
“This lawsuit will be resolved with respect to the underlying facts, and in no way will Airbnb be liable for any harm to the parties involved,” the judge overseeing the case wrote in the court filing.
Airbnb faces lawsuits in New York and California for what some legal observers say is a pattern of deception.
Airbnb says it has taken steps to address that problem.
The lawsuit against Airbnb is the latest in a series filed against the company by people who claim they were deceived by misrepresentation.
Airbnb sued in September 2018 in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania for defamation.
A trial is scheduled to begin in July 2019.
Airbnb declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Airbnb and the lodging industry have been hit hard by a number new regulations in recent months, including regulations that prohibit companies from making it easier to book vacation rentals, such as the use of Airbnb-branded rooms or rooms from companies that sell hotel suites.
The rules were enacted in California in response to a crackdown by New York state regulators on short-term rentals, which Airbnb said was designed to encourage people to use the service instead of booking hotels.
Airbnb, which has faced a number other lawsuits for misleading advertising, has said the rules are necessary because they’re preventing people from using Airbnb to rent out their homes.
Airbnb was the first to get the new rules on the books, but critics say the industry is still in the early days of implementing them.
Airbnb had been struggling with a $1.6 billion