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29 Nov

The criminals were good. They almost got away with the most complex data breach and identity theft scam I’d seen in all my years as an FBI agent and hotel security director.

The victim was a nationally branded hotel in Annapolis, Maryland. A mob of thieves from Baltimore infiltrated the hotel in 2004. An associate had applied for a front desk position, got it, and soon had access to the guest and accounting system.

The gang incorporated several businesses and opened bank accounts using previously stolen identities. They chose a bank based in New Mexico, certain that no one would fly 2,000 miles to check on a fake mailing address. Over the course of a few weeks, the group charged $850,000 to credit cards lifted from the hotel’s accounting records. Charges ranged from $10,000 to $18,000 each.

Identity Theft 911 blog (


29 Nov

The $300,000 Andy Warhol picture being exhibited at the irrepressibly hip W Hotel, Hong Kong.  An unidentified guest removed it and marched straight out of the hotel with such bald-faced confidence that no one thought to stop him. That is until a timely phone-call from the fast-thinking concierge raised the alarm. Still, the mystery thief got away. Seeing the game was up, he calmly left the picture propped against a lamppost, stepped into a taxi, and sped away.

After so many years in the biz, too many great stories not to share!

29 Nov

Hi I’m Richard and I’ve been an executive in the hotel biz for over 20 years. One of my hobbies has become collecting and sharing great behind the scene stories with my hotelier peers. I think you’ll find some of these startling, funny, sad and/or at the very least entertaining. I’m sure you have many of your own!

The first post at the bottom of the string below – “IT TAKES A THIEF” is rather on the long side but it defies all belief at the lengths a thief will go to steal!

Please consider adding to the collection with situations that you have experienced or may have heard about!  Through a collaborative effort this can be fun and create some pretty interesting leasure reading!  Also, kindly forward the blog address to acquaintences that might also contribute.  Thanks and enjoy!


Richard B Evans, CHA, CHAE, CRME


29 Nov

As you know pet friendly hotels became the rage about a decade ago and one ocean front resort in south Florida chose to capitalize on the craze.

At 5pm room attendants reported that Matilda (housekeeper) had disappeared and not turned in her work sheets. Upon inspection of assigned rooms Matilda was found atop a dresser, badly shaken with a small poodle barking away from below.  She had apparently been there for many hours.


29 Nov

Bride, groom and wedding party take penthouse floor of newly renovated hotel in Fort Lauderdale.

While getting dressed for the big event groom needs a place to hang his tuxedo jacket and  spots the closed-loop fire heat detector on the ceiling and hooks the hanger through the closed-head loop, breaking the glass and setting off the alarm and sprinkler system in a number of surrounding rooms.

Hotel staff do there best to clean up flooding, limit the damage and assist everyone in the wedding party in surrounding rooms to prepare for the event.  Water damage requires professional help and is fairly extensive.  Wedding goes as planned.

Bride and groom refuse to pay room rental for the stay and provide the hotel with the dry cleaning bills for all clothing that were damaged by water sprinkler.   Meanwhile the hotel is trying to determine the full cost of damages and whether to bill the bride and groom for the clean up.  What would you have done?!

Hotel decided to take there lumps and not charge for the clean up, but refused to pay for the dry cleaning.


27 Nov

The Hollywood Beach Holiday Inn Sunspree, Florida (now a Trump Plaza Condominium) used a large independent valet service and the valet managers name was Murray.  Murray had been on the property for over 5 years.

Upon checking metrics and getting a feel for the place by interviewing staff the Front Desk Manager let on that she felt something funny was going on with valet income.  Revenues were down over the years and she could not see the reason for this.  She felt something shady was going on.

The resort was big into pre and post cruise business.  Often a guest would arrive with a car and leave for a short cruise for a number of days and then they would check back in to spend a few days before departing.

Upon close study, a trend was seen.  Cars checking in with the valet for pre cruise guests would suddenly disappear for a number of days while guests left for their cruises and then re-appear when guest checked back in after the cruise.  Where were the cars going?

Murray had an arrangement with the parking lot attendant next door to park cars when he needed too.  He would tell the guest when leaving that instead of the $15 a night charge he could park their car for $8 in the adjacent parking lot.  They would leave for 4 to 6 days and save $42.  Murray would pocket $48!


27 Nov

As a consultant one of my small peeves is when a Controller didn’t count and control all cash drawers over a set time period of one day!  I had encountered several execs dismissing the practice telling me that when they worked for Hilton they didn’t require that to be done that way.

This Miami Hotel provided per diem payouts to foreign airline crew where money would be wired in to be distributed to those checking in.  Because of this, our front desk agent cash banks were higher than normal; some as high at $8k to $12k each.

Upon winning this small battle “of counting”, each front desk agent came to the secured area with the Front Desk Manager and a member of the accounting department.  Upon finding out that this new rule was in place one of the front desk agents suddenly stated that he was ill and had to leave right away.  He was asked to stay just while his bank was being counted and he suddenly disappeared.  The lock box was drilled in front of the witnesses to find it empty.

The next day it was learned that he and another agent had been using there cash for personal use and when cash was being counted in the past one would simply hand off cash to the other to cover the shortage!