A man had pled guilty to impersonating a law enforcement officer in order to get hotel discounts. He posed as a U.S. Marshal, and had a fake badge to show to prove his eligibility for a government rate.
He “at least 10 discounts over a five-year period, totaling $2,950” at the Pigeon Forge, Tennessee SpringHill Suites. He boked government rates and “flashed a badge and claimed to be a deputy U.S. Marshal.” Here’s the most priceless part,
“The defendant always paid in cash and on more than one occasion told the desk clerk collecting the payment to wash her hands after handling the money as it was confiscated drug money he had received as bonuses for ‘busts,’” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Kolman wrote in court records.
SpringHill Suites, Pigeon Forge
A manager checked with the U.S. Marshal Service to verify employment prior to his last stay at the property. They determined he wasn’t an employee of the agency, and sent to deputy marshals to wait for him to check in. Once they observed him misrepresenting himself, he was approached and admitted what he was doing and was mirandized but not immediately arrested.
Several years ago frequent flyers would sign up free with IBM PartnerWorld which would give you the right to create business cards with IBM’s logo on it, provided they also included your partner number. Then, if ID’d when booking an IBM hotel rate, they’d have a business card to show that was legitimate.
Most hotels don’t seek to ‘ID’ people booking special rate codes, but at some hotels and some destinations it’s quite common. At one point Marriott properties in Las Vegas were instructed to always ID IBM rates for instance. And the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong would email guests in advance letting them know they’d need to bring proof of eligibility or be asked to pay rack rate.
There are lessons in all of this. First, don’t commit fraud. But second, if you are going to at least don’t impersonate a law enforcement officer as part of the fraud. There are other great corporate rates (still not worth it, but bear with me) that expose you to less jeopardy. Ulltimately, the law enforcement angle aside, any ‘discount rate fraud’ should be a matter between the hotel and guest and shouldn’t involve the government.