Do con artists ever defraud B&B’s? Absolutely.
A man named Ali Patrick Pahlavi arrived at an upscale Denver B&B on September 29, 2000. He told the innkeeper/owner that his luggage and traveling money had been stolen. Would it be possible to borrow money and have the innkeeper’s finest room on credit? His family had been notified and as the billionaire nephew of the late Shah of Iran, he was certainly “good for it.”
The man was suave and charming – as are most con artists.
The innkeeper loaned the man $500 and checked him into his room. He also sold him clothes on credit from his wife’s designer store and he gave him meals on credit from the inn’s restaurant.
Mr. Pahlavi was overwhlemed by the innkeeper’s kindness. They began talking about the hospitality business and Mr. Pahlavi decided to buy the inn.
The prospective owner requested that the innkeeper clear his calendar and rebook in-coming guests to other facilities since he planned to begin remodelling as soon as his attorneys worked out a deal.
Mr. Pahlavi became the inn’s own resident.
Time passed and the innkeeper became suspicious. Money had been advanced to his guest and by November, Mr. Pahlavi had run up quite a bill.
The innkeeper did some belated checking and found that a man matching Mr. Pahlavi’s description had defrauded people in Washington D.C. He went to the police and Mr. Pahlavi was arrested.
He pled guilty in a Denver court and was sentenced to 42 months in prison.
The B&B owner unfortunately went out of business.
For the full text of this story, visit: http://www.westword.com/issues/2004-09-09/news/calhoun.html
For a picture of the con artist, visit this site:
Most con-artists are not nearly as destructive as the man who defrauded the innkeeper in Denver.
A con artist who is targeting a B&B will typically makes a reservation for several rooms. Instead of giving you a credit card, he will offer to mail a corporate check as payment for the rooms. When the check arrives, it will often for an excessive amount. If you call the “businessman,” the con artist will pretend to be surprised. He will then apologize and tell you that the accounting office overpaid the amount due. Would it be possible for you to deposit the check and refund the difference?
If this ever happens to you, SIT ON THE CHECK UNTIL IT CLEARS before giving a refund. The fraud in this particular scenario is that the con artist is hoping that you’ll refund money before the bank tells you that the check is counterfeit.
Wait until the bank clears the check.
You’d be amazed at how many people there are who believe that the receipt you get when you deposit a check at a bank is confirmation that the money has actually been deposited to your account.
Unless the check in question was drawn on the same bank that you have an account in, it will take time for the check to be processed and for the amount to be transferred to your account. The receipt you get at a bank is only an acknowledgement of a pending deposit.
Scam artists are counting on your honesty and gullibility to pull off this scam. If you give them a refund for the “difference” you will be out of money. The conman will disappear and nobody will ever arrive to honor the “reservation” because the entire reservation was a scam.
In time you’ll either get phone call or a letter from the bank telling you that the check you deposited was no good.
By then, it’ll be too late.
Bottom line? Verify deposits on personal checks, business checks, money orders, cashier’s checks, traveler’s checks, and mail orders before you issue a refund. Take the person’s name and address and offer to mail a refund once the bank has verified the deposit. Anyone who demands an immediate refund should be suspect.
P.S. A variation of the, oops-we-overpaid-you and could you please give us a refund scam is this. The business person books several rooms but oh my goodness, gosh, and golly – the business retreat/seminar has been CANCELLED.
We’re so sorry and we’ll gladly book you at another time but in the meanwhile could you please refund the amount paid?