Greenville police said a man was arrested Saturday after a hidden camera was found in a room he rented to a woman via Airbnb.
Police said the victim called them after discovering the camera, which was intended to record her, in an apartment unit on Woodruff Road.
It was an odd discovery, the camera was found inside an alarm clock on a bedroom dresser. The victim told police it appeared out of no where a couple days into her stay.
"She began manipulating the alarm clock and realized there wasn't an on or off switch," said Sgt. Johnathan Bragg. "So she realized it was probably a camera and she left the apartment."
The victim, a 26-year-old woman from Calhoun, GA, said she had used the online lodging accommodation service AirBnb to rent the room from the suspect, Ceser Adam Mendez Fuentes.
The victim, who worked as a travel nurse immediately put a warning online to a group of other nurses. It was just in the knick of time, several others came forward and said they were planning their stay, hoping to rent from the same suspect.
"Basically one of the girls had said "Oh my gosh, I just contacted him. He was very nice and really personable"', said Travel Nurse Deidre Murdoch. "She was saying she was glad she read the warning."
Murdoch said she's been a travel nurse for years, and she said Airbnb has really taken off for those starting out in the profession, but she said she's had a few scares of her own.
"Check your surroundings," Murdoch said. "I made a joke earlier about looking under the toilet seats, but that's not funny. That stuff happens, look in your vents, anything that you're nervous about, anything that looks out of place, don't stay there."
Mendez Fuentes, 35, was charged with voyeurism and was being held in the Greenville County Detention Center on Monday on a $5,000 bond.
Police said this case crossed a fine line between protecting your space and invading someone's privacy.
"The camera in your own space and in your own home is fine," Bragg said. "But when you have an Airbnb and you're renting it out for purposes of spying on someone or looking at someone in an intimate space such as a bedroom dresser that's where it crosses the line of voyeurism."
Airbnb issued the following statement on the case:"Airbnb takes privacy extremely seriously and there is absolutely no place in our community for this kind of illegal and outrageous behavior. The individual involved has been permanently banned from our community and our guest has received our full support. We have reached out to law enforcement to offer our assistance with their investigation. We hope justice will be served quickly. Cameras are never allowed in bathrooms or bedrooms and any other camera must be disclosed ahead of time.” A spokesperson for Airbnb said hosts are required to disclose all surveillance devices in their residence. The company prohibits rentals with surveillance devices in private spaces like bedrooms and bathrooms.
If an Airbnb host violates this policy, they are immediately suspended and removed from the system, the spokesperson said.
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