Homeless Man Used Hotel Credit Card Signup Bonuses for Place to Live

A homeless man in New York with a temp job at a law firm used the indentities of 20 of the firm’s clients to sign up for credit cards and use the free night signup bonuses for a place to live.

The DiCaprio wannabe got away with the scam for so long because store credit cards are available to use immediately after they’re approved and hotels often give out free night stays after opening a new credit card, Brown said.

In one instance, Bogun opened a Marriott Rewards Visa card with a $14,200 credit limit under a Queens woman’s name after staying overnight at a hotel in East Farmingdale, Brown said.

He was, it seems, brand-loyal to Marriott. And his taste in hotels was – unsurprisingly – fairly utilitarian. (He was likely savvy enough to think he might stand out more at upper-tier properties in the city.)

Some of the places he stayed included the Marriott Towne Place Suites in East Farmingdale, L.I., and a Marriott Residence Inn in Plainview, court papers say.

…Investigators caught Bogun on video in January of last year picking up household merchandise he’d ordered with one of the bogus cards at Walmart, and then two months later they found evidence he’d stayed at the Marriott with a bogus ID.

He also used the cards to charge hotel stays, and purchase items from Walmart. He was eventually caught buying and reselling Amtrak tickets (and presumably pocketing the travel category bonus points).

(HT: Magic of Miles)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. “He was likely savvy enough to think he might stand out more at upper-tier properties in the city.”

    Probably even simpler than that – he can get more free nights at lower category hotels outside of Manhattan. That hotel in Farmingdale is a Cat 3, so with the traditional 70,000 points + free night cert for Cat 1-4, he could get almost a free week with that, plus a free morning breakfast.

  2. “He was likely savvy enough to think he might stand out more at upper-tier properties in the city.”

    Wait, why would he stand out?

  3. This is a guy with a cloudy vision of the main chance. A lot of people go to law firms because it’s work-related, i.e., they are criminals. Wonder if the sign-up sleeper cherry-picked any vengeful drug lords among the law firm clientele?

  4. I wonder what address(es) he had them mailed to, what, with being homeless and all.

    So 20 individuals and their families’ credit were wrecked by a parasite. Just another good reason to be proactive and have credit monitoring
    support in your corner.

  5. Why might he stand out at more upscale properties you ask?
    Let me guess. My guess is that for many of the homeless, because they are homeless, they lack access to consistent and available bathrooms and laundry facilities for purposes of personal hygiene and the appearance of one’s clothing.

    The more upscale a property, the more likely the staff might *expect* to see guests wearing freshly laundered and pressed clothing and with a groomed appearance stemming from consistent use of showers, hair cutting services, a sink for tooth brushing, etc.

    Staff at less upscale properties are likely to consider it normal to have more variances in appearance and hygiene.

  6. @Mar – He was working in a law office! He was at least presentable enough to work there, in addition to obviously having access to the bathroom facilities there. Regardless, after checking into the first hotel he would have had shower facilities. And he was spending money on the cards, so he could have easily purchased himself whatever clothes he wanted.

  7. @Mar – I don’t see how cleanliness and appearance would be a factor. He’s living in hotels and working for a law firm. If he’s working at a law firm, he no doubt has a suit(s) and he’s showering each night he’s staying at the hotel. He can have the hotel handle his dry-cleaning, and charge it to any of those credit cards.

    He’s by definition homeless. He’s not destitute though.

    However, at an upper-scale hotel it’s more likely that the staff would recognize him, and notice that he’s been checking in using different names.

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