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New Variation Of Old Hotel Scam Targeting Vegas Visitors

March 10, 2014 at 12:34 PM | by | Comments (16)

By now, we're all aware of the long haul scam when taking a cab from McCarran Airport in Las Vegas. Plenty of tourists will still get taken for a ride, but at least word is spreading and it's easy to spot the warning signs. The latest Las Vegas scam, though, is one that's left us wondering just how they did it.

A friend's stay at Planet Hollywood this weekend resulted in not only the usual succession of hangovers, lamenting over gambling losses and Britney jokes, but the cancellation of a credit card on the way out of town.

Prior to departing this Sunday, the phone in our friend's room rang. A woman on the line asked specifically by name for one of the guests in the room. When he wasn't available, they asked, again by name, for the other person staying in the room. The latter was the person who made the reservation, checked in first with their credit card and happened to be the one answering the call.

The caller explained she was from the front desk and apologized that the hotel systems crashed that morning and automatic checkout would be unavailable. The caller further stated that, to expedite checkout, she would need to obtain the credit card used for the room. She went even further to state her "employee number" and put a male manager on the phone. All while keyboard clicks and "lobby noise" in the background added up to making the call sound pretty damn official. But, it didn't stop there. To further reassure this guest, she offered to hang up so that our friend could dial zero to call back and be connected to the front desk to complete the transaction. Scammers wouldn't do that, right? But wait, there's more! The "employee" offered a 50% discount on the room for the inconvenience. (We would've asked for the resort fee to be waived, too!)

After, unfortunately, providing his credit card number, the caller then asked for the three digit security code on the back of the card. Luckily, a red flag went off at this point and our friend provided an incorrect security code. After hanging up, he dialed the front desk who confirmed that, yes, he had been scammed and would need to come down and fill out a police report. Both the officer on the scene and Planet Hollywood security admitted this is a scam happening all over town and they have no idea yet how the scammers are getting guest names and matching them to the correct room numbers.

In the end, our friend's card hadn't been hit with any charges and was cancelled, but we wonder how often this scam works. Similar scams have been reported in other cities before, but none have mentioned the scammers having specific guest names. Have you been a victim of this setup? And, even more importantly, does anyone know how the criminals are getting the names of their prey?

Remember, a hotel will never call asking for personal details such as a credit card over the phone. Don't think it's a waste of time and always file a report. In the rare case the hotel does need valid personal info, swing by the front desk to know who you're talking to. For Planet Hollywood's part, they offered our flustered friend a suite upgrade and food vouchers on his next stay. Hopefully, he won't be starting a new Vegas Collection: hotel incident reports.

(PHOTO via Foursquare)

Comments (16)

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Thanks for the heads up

That does sound pretty shady.  Especially since all of the information is given when you check in.  I would think if the hotel did have a system issue, they would request the guest come down to the front desk to straighten out.  I think at this point, it's pretty standard procedure that no one will ask for a credit card number without the card holder specifically calling to purchase goods.  

Pretty scary that they were able to get guest names.  The only thing I could think is that it's an inside job, where an employee of the hotel has access to the records and then uses them in a fraudulent manner.

restaurants

Could be someone listening in when a guest tells their name and possibly room number when dining at a restaurant downstairs (or someone looking at the bill when it's processed as a room charge?)

@jimmybond009

We considered the eavesdropping angle too but there were no any room charges so there wasn't an opportunity to overhear the name/room combo.  

hacking

the probaly hacked into there computer system.

otherwuise they should never been connected to the room in the first place without knowing there last name

Inside job

Sounds like an inside job by a hotel employee and their cohorts.

Lost Room Key?

By any chance, did your friend misplace any assigned room keys during the stay? I have been told that the room keys at certain hotels are embedded with your personal information when you check in. I have not confirmed this.

@rogermeyers

That is an old urban legend that dates to 2003 based on some misinformation from a Pasadena police officer.

How it's done.

I'm not saying it's me but this is one way it could be done. Two single guys are sharing a room. A good looking woman makes small talk with them at a black jack table. They strike up a casual conversation. In passing, she asks what hotel they're staying at. About 10  minutes later she gets a phone call and leaves. One of her cohorts, then follows them to their room by getting off the elevator on the same floor and walking past them as they enter their room. Even if there are security cameras in the hallway, the person could just act like they received a phone call and turn around and go back down stairs.

Now you have their names and room numbers. The rest is easy.

housekeeping

swing by one of those housekeeping carts and look around by a clipboard.

The clipboard has each room number to which that housekeeper is assigned, along with the the name of the registered guest and whether they are scheduled for checkout that day.

its usually left outside in the hallway unsupervised  while housekeeping is cleaning the rooms.

Both people in the room?

Sounded like they asked for both the people in the room.  Has to be something to do with the registration system. Housekeeping would only have the person paying for the room.  

Seems all of these places are networked so it is possible it could be an IT person at some server farm area.  One "Cloud Storage" area could house Caesars group and the MGM group of properties.  Or maybe "All Over Town" might just be Caesars properties all over town.  Seems a thumb drive and a copy command could get you what you would need pretty quick.

@IowaUSMC

Yes, they asked for both people in the room. One person who was the registered guest and another person who was added on later.

Could be through the Hotel's software system/

Most hotels have an external IT service that servers multiple hotels.
White Lodging <a href="http://www.whitelodging.com/">http://www.whitelodging.com/</a> had a partial breach March 20 - December 16, 2013 that got access to ancillary charges.
A similar breach to the IT supplier would be a good source for multi-hotel scam.
BTW: White Lodging supplies IT to Marriott Midway, Holiday Inn Midway, Holiday Inn Austin Northwest, Sheraton Erie Bayfront, Westin Austin at the Domain, Marriott Boulder, Marriott Denver South, Marriott Austin South, Marriott Indianapolis Downtown, Marriott Richmond Downtown, Marriott Louisville Downtown, Renaissance Plantation, Renaissance Broomfield Flatiron, Radisson Star Plaza If you stayed at any of these and charged anything to your room, keep an eye on your credit card.

haha

you can spend millions on security fact of the matter the the customer service reps, front desk attendants, phone operators, at banks, hotels, cell phone companies make barely above minimum wage & have access to all your info

you would be surprised how much info is on the screen in front of lower wage workers

if it was a hacking their would be no reason to call its def inside ring of people, not that i think any of these casinos have encrypted databases im sure its all out in the open lol

security thru obscurity

An old scam, The Front Desk Scam

Unfortunately, the scam is not limited to Vegas. I travel so much that I've received the call twice. The scammers don't even need to be in the same town, or country for that matter. But a newer version of this scam involves the setting off of the fire alarm. Then the call comes in and not only apologizes for the alarm but the "employee" explains that it did wipe out the computers. So, they need the credit card information again.

<a href="http://www.today.com/id/43662080/ns/today-today_news/t/summer-travel-alert-scammers-target-hotel-guests/#.Uy8HDfldWkE">http://www.today.com/id/43662080/ns/today-today_news/t/summer-travel-alert-scammers-target-hotel-gue sts/#.Uy8HDfldWkE</a>

@richmc

Thanks for the additional link Rich. I've seen additional non-Vegas stories as well. The odd thing is none of them mention the callers asking for one let one multiple guests specifically by name, particularly one with a different last name whose card isn't on file.  

Hadn't heard the fire alarm version yet, thanks for the tip.

Yep!

This is probably how it happened! I have seen these lists sitting out way too often.

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