The Anna Delvey case is one that received a lot of press at the time but still serves as a recurrent case study for how hotels can avoid high profile fraudsters from costing them tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid bills.The Russian-born Anna Sorokin moved to New York City in 2013 and started posing as a wealthy German heiress under a similar alias Anna Delvey. While she was eventually arrested for grand larceny in 2017, in that four-year span she frauded several prominent hotels, including the Beekman Hotel, 11 Howard, W Downtown and the Parker Méridien.
Our hope is that this doesn’t happen to you, and indeed the proper use of TransForm can prevent many of these types of scams from occurring in the first place.
In a classic case of tricking a person through a strong first impression, Delvey would often show up at these hotels with a reservation for one of the best suites and decide to make a deposit in cash, nonchalantly throwing a stack of bills at the front desk clerk along with a ‘tip’ for their time.
This alone is a huge red flag as majority of hotel con artists try to wait until the last minute before paying for their guestrooms. More often than not, this is with a stolen credit card, used in a card-not-present transaction. The end goal is that the scammers want to get into and out of the room before the credit card company gets wise of the fraudulent activity and notifies the hotel. Using TransForm protects you from these situations in two key ways.
Firstly, by forcing all card-not-present transactions through a secure online portal, you are impeding cash payments from happening in the first place, so no one can run up a huge bill at the hotel’s expense without an authenticated card on file. In the wake of COVID-19 and the heightened need for limiting viral spread, removing cash transactions is something you should be doing regardless.
Secondly, no hotel should allow for room reservation payments within 72 hours of the expected arrival date – three days out as a rule of thumb for how long it takes a processor and issuing bank to properly verify the cardholder. TransForm supports such policies by enabling specified time restrictions on all secure transaction portals so that no payments can be accepted within the hours or days leading up to a reservation.
Aside from deceiving the hotel on the total room bill, Delvey would also rack up hefty sums in additional charges including room service, restaurant dining, alcohol and amenities. By using TransForm, hotels could have sent a different web portal for each of these expenses prior to rendering the service. Cashless and contactless methods would therefore require independent verification for each payment so that any holds on the credit card could be immediately identified.
In such cases where her card was declined, Delvey would have had to supply another for authentication or answer some additional questions from the hotel staff which would have brought her trickery to light.
All told, while we like to imagine that hotel fraud is a thing of the past, the truth is that even in 2021 it is still very possible. Learn how to protect your property from losses; we’re here to help!