Recessionary scams

Besides the many negative consequences directly associated with an economic recession, downturns inevitably spur a variety of scams. Hotels need to be especially alert to scammers seeking to inflict economic damage on scarce hotel guests. The range of scams include:

  • Inbox malware that seeks to extract personal and business information for nefarious uses – anything from personal identity details to guest lists and credit card details can then be lifted by the scammers. Malproofing methods can be found in Carnegie Mellon's site at their CERT center.
  • The use of social networking sites as marketing tools for hotels leaves them vulnerable to cyberscams that are mushrooming among the social networks such as facebook.
  • More garden variety yet ingenious scams include fraudsters posing as law-enforcement officials "investigating" credit card scams while asking for the hotel's database to plain robberies
  • Thieves pose as guests prowl hotel corridors to walk into guest rooms being serviced by housekeeping and walk away with personal data. Guests often do not realize that they have been victimized as the thieves, if they come upon a wallet, steal only one credit card or merely a business card with a view to identity theft. 
  • Thefts in the lobby are also likely to rise as thieves walk among guests during the busy check-in period and walk away with baggage left unattended by unwary hotel guest tired after a long journey while they await their turn to check-in. More brazen are outright robbery attempts as this recent one in New York.
  • Parking lots of hotels are also more vulnerable to marauding thieves and robbers. Increasing the quality of lighting and patrolling, while more expensive, is a must. Guests can help thwart them by not leaving valuables in the car and parking in well-lit areas.

Some unscrupulous hotel operators are not above using the straitened economic circumstances to perpetrate some scams of their own. These include the so-called "dynamic-currency-conversion" fee levied on unsuspecting foreign guests to "mistaken" postings for services such as newspapers, phones, movies and sundries that were never used.

Published by

Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.