The couple said strangers had extended their hotel reservations and they now owe thousands of dollars for an extra room they had never stayed in.
“There are red flags everywhere,” said Hayley Wells.
Hayley Wells and her husband recently spent four nights at the W Hotel Lakeshore. They said their stay was stellar – until they got the bill.
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“I’m so upset and angry and feel vulnerable and exploited and a weekend that was supposed to be fun turned into something I don’t even want to think about, it makes me sick,” he said. she stated.
Wells said that two days after arriving at her home in Omaha, Nebraska, she received a new bill from the W.
“I received another folio from W Lakeshore saying a total of $6,539 and saying I was leaving that morning,” Wells said.
It was three extra nights in a room she said they had never stayed in, with additional charges totaling nearly $4,000. It included all amenities such as internet access, valet parking, phone call charges and many room services.
“They called me and told me that I was responsible for all these charges and that it was because someone, a name I don’t even know, had been added to my reservation. I didn’t added no one to my reservation,” she said.
Wells showed the I-Team her original W Hotel check-out receipt and airline records showing the couple had left Chicago and were home while the other room was in use. She received lunch receipts from the layover in Minneapolis. She even provided us with a timestamped video of herself at her home in Omaha. All of this evidence, Wells said, was offered to the W Hotel. The I-Team also obtained the police report filed by Wells.
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“How does it make you feel that the hotel doesn’t believe you?” Jason Knowles asked.
“It makes me extremely upset,” Wells said.
Wells said the W insisted that she allow the mysterious person to be added to her reservation.
“I guess if someone had been added to your booking you would have to be there with my ID,” she said.
Governors State University expert William Kresse, also known as “Professor Fraud,” said reservations may be changed if you’re not in the office, but hotels should confirm changes.
“It’s just good practice, good protocol. A lot of the top hotels will, if there’s a change in your reservation, they’ll send you an email that should have happened,” William Kresse said.
Wells said she never received an email alert.
The Director of Operations at W Chicago Lakeshore sent this email to the I-Team, stating, “We take information security very seriously and have measures in place to protect guest data. We are aware of this matter, have been in contact with the guest directly and are investigating.For privacy reasons, we are unable to comment further.
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“People in the fraud industry tell me this is a pretty common scam,” Kresse said.
Kresse said sometimes scammers can take someone’s reservation by accessing their room and the key cards in their room after they leave.
Wells said she put her keys in the W drop box, but used automatic payment. Kresse said the best way to keep people from hanging on to your reservation is to avoid self-checkout and not leave your keys in the room.
“Return the key cards, get a receipt, leave knowing you have proof that you have checked out and are not responsible for the additional charges,” Kresse said. “An old-fashioned checkout…could be inconvenient but in the end could be much more convenient.”
“What comes down to saying is they’ve had a massive security breach. And it’s extremely scary and vulnerable to know that something like this can happen,” Wells said.
Wells disputed the charge with his credit card pending W’s investigation.
To prevent someone from stealing your reservation, experts say you should also be wary of people behind who might be listening to your room number.
Sometimes these scammers can speak softly to enter a room, extend the reservation by calling from the room, or grab the keys if they are in the room.
You can also report things like this to the Federal Trade Commission if you are a victim.
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