Scams are everywhere, even at hotels. These employees share the scam attempts they’ve faced on the job. Content has been edited for clarity.
Midnight Call From “Steve”
“I worked night audit at a hotel and this was my third week in working here.
Around midnight, I received a call from ‘Steven Watson’ on the hotel phone. He told me that on Monday, Sept 12th, at 11:30 am there would be a fire safety prevention inspection, and that I needed to write down some information. He told me that tomorrow there was going to be a delivery of a bunch of replacement equipment for all the fire safety things; all the fire alarms, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, etc.
He, ‘being part of our company’, explained that he paid the first initial payment and that my boss, ‘Joe’ had to pay the rest on his end.
He was expressing that this was very important but he was calm and collected. So I then went to text Joe about this to ask what to do and I quickly got a text from a number unfamiliar to me saying they were Joe and that this fire safety thing was very very important.
It might be important to mention that I did text Joe’s actual number but he didn’t answer, and Joe always answers. So him not responding there was odd but the fact he responded off a different number soon after saying he received my text from the other phone but couldn’t respond as he was in the middle of trying to work this situation out seemed like Joe.
I was then instructed by Joe that there was a yellow envelope with documents and cash for the payment and that I had to stay on the phone with Steven and find it. This was said to be the payment for the new fire alarms and such. They had said that my boss had forgotten to send it out and that it was urgent so I had to do it. I didn’t quite understand the second half of what that would look like but with the pace of things, I didn’t think as much as I should have about that.
At this point, I was told I had to get into Joe’s door, at all costs. They made that seem normal. I was instructed to try all sorts of keys to get in.
I also texted my coworker, ‘Cole’ but then I said to, Steven, ‘I just texted my coworker, maybe he knows which key to use.’
Steven quickly said, ‘Oh no, Joe is really embarrassed about this since he should have sent it out a while ago. Please don’t get anyone else involved. We will figure it out and work through this. Tell them you were worried about the guests who couldn’t get into their room and that you’ve gotten it handled.’
So that’s what I did, thinking I was helping Joe out and protecting him from being embarrassed.
This is where I feel incredibly stupid for falling for, but they said that I had to break the door open. and I hesitated, being taken off guard by such an action. Yet they were calm and collected and explained this was very important. I got some somewhat pressured texts from fake Joe. so I listened as they told me I had to break the door handle.
They said, ‘We pay for insurance every month, it’s totally okay. The door handle is nothing.’
They told me I was going to need a hammer of sorts and maybe some other things. So I got a big sledgehammer from the back.
He was telling me things like ‘Please be safe’ and ‘Don’t hurt yourself’, but this is important. I finally broke open the door by hitting it a few times. He then said I needed to check everywhere for that envelope and cash payment. Everywhere. Saying the mess I made didn’t matter so long as I found it.
I felt weird but I deal with diagnosed anxiety and was internally assuming that yes this is a lot but if ‘Joe’ says so, I gotta do it. And dismissed the feelings of anxiety as my usual response to most things.
Steven then had me download whatsapp so we could video call. He asked me to show him the office on a video call to see if he can spot the envelope with me. I searched and searched. Then I went to the front and checked the cash drawer as he told me to. He saw the cash from my video recording and asked me how much it was. I read off the previous till recited.
He went, ‘Okay okay is there any more cash?’
And I said I didn’t think so. But he had me look. I was having pretty heavy tunnel vision at this point. I found more cash in Joe’s office.
At this point, he was conveying that this was extremely important and that if I didn’t do it, Joe was going to be in really really big trouble. And that Joe was kinda freaking out about this. Because of that, I was going to gather as much money as I could to start the payment. And that Joe was working with the other people to let this be enough for now so as to not get in trouble.
I’m fairly sure he said it had to be 2,000 and I had just around that after collecting money from the till, the drop box, the cash box in Joe’s office, and an envelope with money it in from Joe’s office.
He was then telling me I was going to need to drive somewhere to drop it off. In the back of my head, things started to feel really funky. My body really started to move just on autopilot. I got in the car and drove to the given address. This ended up being a shell.
Here, they have bitcoin. I remember thinking this was really weird. Why would Joe use Bitcoin? It didn’t make sense. Why would he have me leave the hotel? But I walked inside with the money in a bag.
Then everything clicked in a way. and I tried calling Joe’s cell, the real one. It was blocked and the guy was still on the phone from the app and he was like, ‘Hey what’s going on?’
I had thought I hung up but realized I didn’t and made double sure to hang up.
This time the call went through and I got ahold of Joe. He sleepily answered hello and it all started to really sink in. I asked him if there was something going on, my voice barely able to come out of me. He was confused and said no and was asking if I was okay and what was going on. At this point, it all completely dropped on me and I started to cry, cry hard, and tell him I’m sorry over and over I tried to go through what happened but I was a bit of a mess.
Joe told me first to get back to the hotel. I hung up and as I was driving back, I called my sister crying and freaking out and she was trying to calm me down. I got back to the hotel and Joe was calling me back and then from there we went through what happened.
He helped to have me backtrack and fix some things like putting keys back and away and double and triple and extra more checking of this and that. He asked several times if I had given any bank information, and I know that I did not. I definitely understood his concerns, and I also knew through and through that I did not release that information.
From there, I did my best to clean up the mess I made and to get done the normal nightly tasks.
But there, that is what happened. My boss is seriously the kindest human being on this earth as he said he is not going to fire me and that yes, it was a pretty bad situation, but that in the end no harm was truly done and that the broken down door really didn’t matter much to him. My coworkers have been overwhelmingly kind and sweet to me about the situation too, and I am forever grateful. I was feeling like it was truly the end of the world.
I still am feeling like I’ll never recover from this and that this is the most embarrassing thing I have and will ever do. I can’t believe I broke down my boss’s door…
One of my roommates made a joke saying ‘Never have I ever… robbed my own workplace.'”
“I will always remember this wanna-be scam artist. I was working in Corporate Guest Relations, and I received a VERY long email from a guest about their stay at our Resort property in Mexico. This was a very nice All-Inclusive Beachfront Resort.
She put a lot of effort into the email, which was basically a day-by-diary of her 8-night stay, listing every possible complaint someone could come up with, along with a huge collection of pictures as ‘evidence’. It was several pages long, and it looked something like this:
Day 1: The shuttle driver was rude. We had to wait 30 minutes to check-in. The view is horrible; we can’t see the Ocean. The sheets were dirty (picture attached). The A/C is so loud I can’t sleep. There is a crack in the sidewalk outside our room (picture attached). My dinner was cold, and there wasn’t any salt/pepper on the table. The shower has no water pressure.
Day 2: We had breakfast at ___ and they were out of pancakes. My daughter’s favorite cereal ___ wasn’t available. There were loud children playing in the pool all day. There is a light out on the pathway (picture attached). I called the front desk to ask for more towels, and no one answered. I think Housekeeping took money out of my purse. The chairs in the lobby are uncomfortable. One of the electrical plugs in my room doesn’t work.
Imagine a list with 100 more things from her 8-night stay, every department from Front Desk, Housekeeping, Maintenance, etc. Now, some of the complaints seemed plausible, but really, who spends their entire vacation making a log of everything they think is wrong with a Resort? Especially a Hotel we get very few complaints about. So I contacted the manager at the resort to discuss the guest, assuming the system (which I cannot access) would have all the logs from this woman’s complaints (the Hotel logs EVERYTHING).
But there was nothing there. In fact, the entire time she was at the Hotel, she never voiced any complaints. She merely logged them in her little ‘complaint diary’ and went about her business. Many of her issues were extremely petty, for example, the ‘crack in the sidewalk’ was about 3 inches long and was flat on both sides. It wasn’t a tripping hazard, just a small crack. The light out on the path… even in the picture, I could see that the area was still very well lit because they have lights everywhere in that area. Her room didn’t have an Ocean view because she booked a Courtyard view. The picture of dirty sheets showed one tiny little black spot in the corner, like if you tapped the sheet with the tip of a pen or fine marker. It took 30 minutes to check-in because she showed up 3 hours early, and they had to get a room ready. The shower in her room was fine, and the A/C unit was not loud at all.
We looked into everything, talked to all of the department heads, and had the room she stayed in fully inspected. While the list made it seem like she had a horrible stay, there really wasn’t any substance behind her complaints. So, since this all seemed a bit fishy to everyone, I called the guest and spoke with her about her complaints. I told her that I had been in contact with the Hotel, and we couldn’t find any record of her complaints, and I inquired who at the Hotel she had spoken with while she was there… and she admitted, no one.
I gave her my apologies and suggested that next time she should express her complaints while on the property so they can be immediately addressed. For example, Housekeeping would have been happy to change out the ‘dirty sheets’, etc., etc. Keep in mind she was there for 8 nights, at an all-inclusive resort with 7 different restaurants, 4 bars, multiple pools, etc. She probably never left the Hotel but never said a word about all the problems she was having. Note: 100% of the employees speak English; it’s a requirement because this is an American Hotel chain.
So, in the name of Customer Service, I tell her that we would like an opportunity to make this right and offered her 3 FREE nights to come back in the future.
Nope, that’s not good enough, she wants a FULL refund ($6,500) and nothing less. I told her that I would discuss it and get back to her. The next day I inform her that the Hotel would not offer a refund, but they were willing to add in another night, so now that’s 4 free nights.
Nope, unacceptable, she continues to demand a full refund. We went back and forth. She wanted my manager, who then told her the same thing. The guest hung up on my boss after things got a bit heated. A few days later she calls again and wants to know the status of her refund. Um, how do you give someone a status on something that’s never going to happen?
She says she’s going to contact Corporate. I roll my eyes and explain to her (again) that I am the Corporate Guest Relations Coordinator. I am Corporate. I spent forever on the phone talking with this woman, who just refused to accept the free nights and was hell-bent on getting her money back. She just kept going back to her list… ‘Well what about ___? What are you going to about _____?’ I wouldn’t budge. It is 4 free future nights or nothing, lady.
Then, the unimaginable happened. In all my years of Customer Service, I have never EVER had a scammer resort to telling the TRUTH. When she finally realized she wasn’t getting a refund, she cried, ‘I can’t afford to pay for this, I don’t have the money! I don’t know what to do… you have to help me!’
I was like, ‘You… can’t afford to pay? Weren’t you planning on paying for your stay when you made the reservation? It’s not like we are charging you more than you agreed to …and we are still offering you free nights for your next visit…’
She responded (completely broken and weeping), ‘I didn’t think I would have to pay!! I thought I would get my money back! I don’t know what I’m going to do… Please… you have to help me… I can’t pay for this… I’ve got kids … please… you’ve got to do something to help me out… I need you to give me a refund. I don’t know what I’m going to do if I can’t get that money back… I can’t pay for this…’
Did this woman just admit she planned all this, thinking she was just going to complain her way into a ‘6,500’ refund? Yes, yes, she did just say that.
Me: ‘Ma’am, I’m sorry, but there is nothing I can do.’
Guest (who now sounds like she is having a panic attack): ‘I’ve got to get that money back, I’ve got to do something… you’ve got to help me out here… I don’t know what else to do … I don’t have the money…I can’t pay for this…’
Me: ‘Ma’am, you should have thought about that before you went on a vacation you couldn’t afford.’ (Yea, I shouldn’t have said this, but I was just DONE with this woman, she had wasted enough of my time already, not to mention all the people at the Hotel who looked into her entire list of bullshit).
She cried some more, then she resorted to screaming, so I hung up on her. Everything was noted. All my calls are recorded, so I went ahead and attached that file. She did send some hate mail to our Corporate offices, but due to the fact that I had a RECORDING of her admitting she was trying to scam us, they ignored her letters. Oh, and her ‘frequent guest’ membership was flagged as being banned from all properties. We did not send her the free night certificates either.”
“Never Seen This Before”
“A guy walked into the hotel and asked for a room with two queen beds. I quoted the rate, and he agreed.
I asked for his card and ID, and he handed me a red debit card issued by a well-known bank along with his ID. The names on the ID and card matched, so I proceeded with the check-in process.
I input all of his information, and when I asked for an email, he declined. Whenever a walk-in declined to give any information, I added their ID number to the notes in case we had issues.
The debit card that the guest handed me was declined. I mentioned it and handed the card back to him, asking if he had a different method of payment. He got super defensive and insisted he had money. I told him to call his bank then.
He said, ‘Let me try swiping it.’
I knew the issue wasn’t the swipe, so I had no problem letting him try. I placed my Magtek reader on the desk, and he pulled out a card identical to the one he had handed me, swiped it, and the charge went through without any issue.
This was a HUGE red flag since he hadn’t contacted his bank at all. I asked to see the card again, and he handed me one that didn’t have his name on it and had a different expiration date than the card he had just swiped. This card was identical to the first card – a red debit card issued by the same bank. I told him that wasn’t the card he had just used, and I needed to see the card he used. He got super defensive again and handed me a third card that looked identical to the first two but had a different name. This was the card he swiped, and I asked if that person was present with their ID. He said they were in the car and had a picture of their ID but not the physical one.
I informed him that I couldn’t check him in since the person had to be present with their physical ID, and he left. Later, he came back to ask about the charge on the card that wasn’t his (since it was authorized – oops!). I printed him a 0 balance folio that showed no charges, and he left.
But never before had I seen a ‘card switch’ like this.”