Couple say strangers hijacked hotel reservation and racked up huge bill

CHICAGO (WLS) – Someone could be living their life in a hotel room using your existing reservation. A couple said their hotel stay was recently hijacked and their hotel bill more than doubled.

The couple said strangers had extended their hotel reservations and now owed thousands of dollars for an additional room they had never stayed in.

“There are red flags everywhere,” Hayley Wells said.

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.

“I’m so upset and angry and feel vulnerable and taken advantage of and a weekend that was supposed to be fun has turned into something I don’t even want to think about, it makes me sick”, a- she declared.

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 the W Lakeshore showing a total of $ 6,539 and saying I was leaving that morning,” Wells said.

It was three more nights in a room she said they had never stayed in, with additional charges totaling nearly $ 4,000. It included all the amenities like internet access, valet parking, phone call charges and many room services.

“They called me and basically told me that I was responsible for all of these charges and that was because someone, a name that I don’t even know, had been added to my reservation. didn’t add anyone to my reservation, “she said.

Wells showed the I-Team his original W hotel departure bill and plane records showing the couple had left Chicago and were at home while the other room was in use. She has lunch receipts from the stopover in Minneapolis. She even provided us with a time-stamped video of herself at her home in Omaha. All of this evidence, Wells said, was presented to the W Hotel. The I-Team also obtained the police report filed by Wells.

“How do you know the hotel doesn’t believe you?” Jason Knowles asked.

“It makes me extremely upset,” Wells said.

Wells said the W insisted she allow the addition of the mystery person to her reservation.

“I guess if someone had been added to your reservation you should be present with my ID,” she said.

Governors State University expert William Kresse, also known as “Professor Fraud,” said reservations may be changed if you are not present at reception, but hotels must confirm the changes.

“It’s just good practice, good protocol. A lot of the better hotels will do it, if there is a change in your reservation they will send you an email that should have arrived,” said William Kresse.

Wells said she never received an email alert.

The W Chicago Lakeshore COO sent this email to the I-Team, stating, “We take information security very seriously and have measures in place to protect customer data. We are aware of this problem, have been in direct contact with the customer, and are investigating. Due to confidentiality, we cannot comment further. “

“I’ve been told by people in the fraud industry that this is a pretty common scam,” Kresse said.

Kresse said sometimes scammers can take someone’s reservation by gaining access to their room and their key cards in their room after they leave.

Wells said she placed 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 automatic check-out and not leave your keys in the room.

“Hand in the key cards, get a receipt, leave knowing you have proof you’ve checked out and the extra charges aren’t yours,” Kresse said. “An old-fashioned check out … can be inconvenient, but ultimately can be much more convenient.”

“What is to say is that they’ve had a huge security breach. And it’s extremely scary and vulnerable to know that something like this can happen,” Wells said.

Wells disputed the charge with her credit card as she awaits the W.

To prevent someone from stealing your reservation, experts also advise you to be wary of people behind who might eavesdrop on your room number.

Sometimes these crooks can find their way to a room, extend the reservation by calling from the room, or pick up the keys if they are in the room.

You can also report this stuff to the Federal Trade Commission if you are a victim.

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