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Shady AND Stupid: A Losing Combo

, , , , | Right | CREDIT: Pineapple_Peasant | July 16, 2021

I work in Accounts Receivable and Human Resources at [Hotel]. Our hotel is very unique for a few reasons: it’s the nicest hotel in the immediate area; the immediate area is somewhat infamous locally for how rough certain neighborhoods are; we have our own convention center; while we are employed by a major hotel management company, I believe that they are now the largest hospitality management group in the US; and the property itself is actually owned by the city that it is in.

It’s another day at work. I’m in my office, being amazing as always, and happily getting all of the little accounts balanced and invoices sent. The phone rings. I give my opening spiel.

Caller: “Um, hi. My name is [Caller]. I have a charge on my account from your hotel last night but I’m not there. I’ve never even been to your state. I live in [State].”

Me: “That’s odd. Could you or someone with a tablet in your home possibly have made an accidental reservation here? You may have been charged when the room was held but did not check in.”

Caller: “No, we don’t have a tablet. I don’t have any reservation apps on my phone, and my children can’t open it anyway.”

I get the type of card and last four digits of her card, confirm the charge date, and get the exact amount charged. Rather than run it through our processor, I take a shot in the dark with our point-of-sale system while she’s still on the phone. It has this nifty little feature where you can search using the type of card and last four digits. It doesn’t always work so great, but when it does, it is awesome. And lo and behold, it decides to work when I try it.

Me: “Huh, that’s odd. I’m showing a matching card on a reservation that was authorized for that amount yesterday and they are still in house.”

I’m taken aback here and forget that I shouldn’t tell her names. Honestly, I am more talking to myself, trying to figure out what exactly was going on.

Me: “Hm… Mr. [Man].”

Caller: “I don’t know a Mr. [Man]. Our last name is [Caller’s Last Name]. Should I dispute this charge with my bank?”

Me: “Ms. [Caller], if you could wait, I would like to try to figure out what’s going on on our end first. Can I get your phone number and call you back within two hours?”

Caller: “Oh, yes. That’s fine.”

I turn to the Director of Finances. He has roughly 457 years of experience, so he is my go-to for odd situations and can give a pretty good explanation when things go awry. He agrees with me that there is no way that this could be a processing error from the bank. We pull up the reservation and can see in the transaction history that the guest actually swiped the card, meaning that we didn’t manually enter it and we didn’t make a mistake by typing the wrong number (which we don’t normally do, but stuff happens).

I then call the room, apologize profusely, tell him that the computer malfunctioned during their check-in and deleted the card on file and that we need to have him re-swipe his card as soon as he can. This is a strategy to get a close look at the card. The guy comes back, and he does physically have the card and it has his name on it, but something about the card is odd. Mr. [Man] accepts our apologies for bothering him and goes back to his room.

Now, here’s where it starts getting so fun that I still smile. I hate thieves. I mean, really. I hate seeing innocent people like Ms. [Caller] get hurt, stress out, have to go through filing a chargeback, and wait on their own money that they need, and the business then getting hit with a fee while also adjusting revenue. I’ve worked in so many places where the managers didn’t care and let people get away with so much shady stuff that it drove me crazy. I do not tolerate it anymore whatsoever. So, as I’m at the front, I see the general manager. He had seen the exchange at the front desk and asks me what it was about. I tell him what happened.

Me: “I’m pretty sure that Mr. [Man] somehow stole Ms. [Caller]’s information and made a fake card.”

Because we are city-owned, we get a lot of cool events, like the one we have in house at this very moment: the Sheriff’s Convention. The city manager is actually right by the general manager as I give him the breakdown of what is going on. The city manager calls over a sheriff he is on a first-name basis with, who ends up asking me all kinds of questions. They go off, confer with one another, run the guy’s name, and get whatever paperwork they need.

They then search the room. As it turns out, Mr. [Man] has made a bad name for himself and has been using aliases that were linked to him. When they search his room, they find several fake IDs, a lot of fake cards in his name, a credit card machine, and a lot of blank cards. He and his lady get to be part of an impromptu training for the convention and even get to ride in pretty cars that have pretty, pretty lights.

My favorite part about all of this is that when they checked in, the parking lot was FULL of cop cars. I still do not understand what made them think that paying for their room with a stolen card was a great idea. Or, you know, bringing in all of their equipment, stolen cards, and fake IDs.

I got to call back [Caller] back pretty quickly, and I had a great story for her.

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