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Airbnb Host Sued For Sending Photo Of Guest And Another Woman To His Wife After He Refused To Pay $960 In Fees

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An Airbnb host is being sued after she enacted revenge against a guest after violating one of the rules that she had in place at the property that was being rented.

Superhost Pamela Fohler is being accused of invading the privacy of her guest, Shawn Mackey, and ruining his personal life after he refused to pay a fee.

Mackey was charged a fee for breaking the house rules of the Airbnb host and she retaliated when he didn't pay. 

In September 2022, Mackey, who is from Mississippi, rented Fohler's home — which was listed as a "Little Bit More Country" — for a weekend get-together with some of his friends in Memphis, Tennessee. He'd booked the stay from September 9 to September 11, for a total of four guests.

In his correspondence with the Airbnb host, Mackey said he may invite additional friends over for a "very low-key" dinner, but they would not be spending the night, according to emails attached to the complaint, per The New York Post.

Airbnb Host Sued For Sending Compromising Photo Of Guest To His Wife After He Refused To Pay FeesPhoto: Oneinchpunch / Canva Pro

"[That] sounds like a lovely time," Fohler reportedly responded. "I would be delighted to host you all." 

The three-bedroom, two-bath home, which Fohler was renting out for $567 a night, was able to accommodate up to 12 guests, and she'd "voiced no objections" to the additional guests that Mackey told her he'd be inviting. 

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Fohler sent Mackey a list of house rules, including no smoking or vaping, no excessive noise, no guests from the local area, and other things. She warned him that she had the right to charge a $500 fine at her discretion if police were called to the house for any reason, and a $250 fine, plus a cancellation of the stay, for bringing additional guests.

After checking into the home, Mackey sent Fohler an updated guest list with nine names and specified that only 4 to 5 of them would be spending the night. Minutes later, Fohler told Mackey, for the first time, that only eight guests would be permitted at the house, and that there would be an additional cost per guest, regardless of whether they stayed over or not. She also reminded Mackey of her strict "no parties" policy.

As the night went on, Fohler messaged Mackey again, demanding that he "either add the extra guests now or have them leave immediately," according to the complaint. She further claimed she had received complaints "of disturbances, yelling, and profanity in the parking area." 

About 15 minutes later, Fohler sent another message to her guest, demanding that he leave at once. When Mackey finally reached out to Fohler via a phone call, he ended up speaking with Fohler's husband, Jamie, who assured him that he could stay in the house.

Mackey ended up leaving the day he'd planned, even receiving a message from Fohler to lock up and turn off all of the lights before he left.

Airbnb Host Sued For Sending Compromising Photo Of Guest To His Wife After He Refused To Pay FeesPhoto: Pheelings Media / Canva Pro

However, shortly after leaving, Mackey left a negative review of his stay at Fohler's house and requested a partial refund of $502.46, which was denied.

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His review was also allegedly taken down. Mackey was eventually contacted by Airbnb, who told him that the company would be suspending his account pending an investigation into his claims.

Days later Mackey received a bill from Airbnb for $960 — an amount that included a $160 fine for four extra guests, $500 for violating two house rules, and $300 related to the “moderation” of his negative review.

Fohler threatened to send a photo of Mackey with another woman to his wife if he didn't pay the fee.

Right before Mackey received the fee charges, he received a text message from Fohler, who'd attached a photo of him and another woman that was taken by one of the cameras on Fohler's property.

"Hello Shawn, hope you are well," the text read. "Sorry it took so long to get the photos you requested together to show your stay at our home. But I had faith, was driven by integrity, so I committed to get these posted for you and Airbnb. Photo at 3:16 AM is especially notable. Should I forward the photos and videos to [Mackey’s wife] Teresa, or will you?"

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Fohler also allegedly threatened to put the videos on YouTube "shortly" because the files were too large to transmit via text. Mackey refused to pay leading to what his lawsuit called "an extortion attempt" by Fohler, who allegedly set up a fake email account which she then used to send an email with the subject line "Nice bag" to Mackey’s wife at her place of work — writing "I love your bag, where'd you get it?" as the accompanying message.

In the body of the email, a screenshot of Mackey with another woman was included. 

Fohler denied sending the email with the photo, or even communicating with Mackey’s wife, in a response filed in December 2022, according to The Daily Beast.

Now, Mackey is suing both Airbnb and Fohler, accusing them of invading his privacy, inflicting on him emotional distress and causing "damage" to his marriage. "Instead of reacting as any decent person of even decent corporation would at such illegal and abhorrent and evil conduct, Airbnb sided with its Superhost, its co-defendant, Fohler,” the lawsuit stated.

Fohler did not exhibit a level of communication and integrity befitting an Airbnb host. 

There could've been a million and one ways that Fohler could've handled Mackey not paying the fees that he owed, and it's up to platforms like Airbnb to make sure their guests' safety and grievances are handled appropriately.

Revenge is petty, unproductive, and never a good solution.

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Nia Tipton is a Chicago-based entertainment, news, and lifestyle writer whose work delves into modern-day issues and experiences.