News 12 at 6 o'clock / November 11, 2013
AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW)
"All they had to do was drive through the parking lot one time and see what the room numbers were," says Joe Tregeagle. That is how he says he believes a con artist was able to target guests at the Econo Lodge on Gordon Highway Sunday night. "He had paid cash for the room and wanted to know why we wanted a credit card number when he already paid cash," says Tregeagle.
He says someone using the name David Alexander called more than 24 of the hotel's 54 rooms telling guests that the computer system crashed and the hotel needed to verify credit card information. Tregeagle says he got a call in his room, too.
"I told him he made a mistake and that he got the hotel security," Tregeagle. One person even fell for it. "One guest actually thought that the call was legitimate and repeated his credit card number," says Tregeagle.
He notified management right away. They took immediate action to alert guests and then called police. "After the problem happened last night we took ours off the automated system so that the front desk answered all the calls," says Tregeagle.
The hotel has since turned its automated system back on but is alerting guests of the scam. "We don't even store that kind of information here at the hotel, it's done through our reservation system," says Tregeagle.
Something he says he hopes future guests will remember. "Primarily we just want to look out for the safety and security of our guests," says Tregeagle.
The Better Business Bureau has some advice too. If you are staying at a hotel and get a call from someone claiming to be a hotel employee, hang up the phone and call the front desk yourself.
Better yet, go down to the front desk. chances are the call did not come from within the hotel. Also, remind friends and family not to provide credit card information over the phone during a hotel stay.
Meanwhile we understand that security advised the credit card scam victim to contact the credit card company and cancel the card before it could be used.