Konrad Bicher—the 31-year-old Florida native and self proclaimed “Wolf of Airbnb”—has been indicted following an FBI investigation into his illegal scheme of subletting Manhattan apartments while refusing to pay rent.
Bicher has been indicted on two counts of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of New York. Bicher’s scheme involved refusing to pay rent in over a dozen Manhattan apartments while renting them out to third parties on the website Airbnb. The Attorney’s Office says that Bicher and his associates failed to make more than $1,000,000 worth of payments across a time frame of July 2019 to April 2022 while raking in an income of $1,170,000 for his rentals.
“We allege that Bicher brazenly rented at least 18 apartments in Manhattan with the intent to ignore his lease obligations, including by operating the apartments as mini-hotels and skipping rent. When landlords sought to recover rental payments from Bicher, he lied and claimed that he could not make payments during the pendency of the COVID-19 pandemic,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a press release. “Bicher abused Government programs and tenant protections intended to benefit New Yorkers in crisis, and he will have to answer for his conduct.”
Meanwhile the fraudster was said to have been collecting PPP loans meant to help small businesses weather the covid-19 pandemic, walking away with $565,000. According to the Attorney’s Office, Bicher submitted documents with falsified information to obtain these loans—some of these documents included fake tax filings with the IRS. Bicher was first arrested for his crimes earlier this summer.
Bicher’s scheme occurred throughout the course of Manhattan becoming one of the most expensive cities in the U.S. to be a renter in, which appears to have hit a record high this summer. According to a viral report from real estate company Douglas Elliman published this summer, Manhattan apartments surged 29% year-over-year up to a whopping average monthly rate of $5,058 in June 2022.
Airbnb told Gizmodo via email: “This type of activity has no place on our platform, and we previously banned this Host from Airbnb. We sought to cooperate fully with the FBI as part of its investigation.”