Friday, November 16, 2012

More Motel Scams

I had an earnest chap send an email to our motel earlier this week:
From: Jetstar Consultants Ltd []
Subject: Inquiry

Gooday Sir,Ma

I will need your Assistance for you to book an accomodation for some of my clients,We would be most appreciative if you would be willing to do so.

Mr & Mrs Peebles (Double Room)

james Peebles (Single Room)

Number of Guest: 3

Date of Arrival: February 05 2013

Date of Departure: February 15 2012

For prompt action, we would be very grateful, if you can send with the total cost for the accommodation to effect the whole night charges to effect the prepayment and the following details:


Awaiting your response so that we can forward Credit Card Details for charges.

Best Regard

Jeff Vaughan

Jetstar Consultants Ltd
The email was sprinkled with familiar signs that suggested that Jeff Vaughan was engaging in the popular sport of "phishing".

The "Hotel Scam" is alive and well - I guess these emails tend to arrive more frequently as we lead up to the busy season. Maybe these scammers think that their speculative Trojan Horse emails won't stand out as much and blend-in with the increased frequency of genuine emails from real prospective guests.

Luckily, the tell-tale signs in the email instantly ring alarm bells. The multiple nights for multiple people, spelling/formatting errors, the strained English and the enthusiasm to forward credit card details - even before availability/rates/room types are advised.

Usually we just trash these requests, however I was curious about the person at the other end so sent back an email offering the rooms for $5,000.00 and got this back in response in reasonably quick time.
From: Jeff Vaughan []
Subject: {Disarmed} Credit Card Information For Payment...

Good Day,

Thanks for the email. I am so glad to know that you are willing to assist me regarding the air flight tickets. See below my credit card information for the total payment.

I Jeff Vaughan hereby authorize you to charge my credit card for accommodation fee, air flight tickets fee and commission to complete booking. The exchange rate of Eur to New Zealand Dollar is 1.55NZ$ See break-down of total amount to be charged.......

Accommodation.... NZ$ 5000.00

Air Flight Tickets... NZ$ 9843.50
Commission..... NZ$ 775.00
Total Amount To Be Charged.... NZ$ 15,618.50

Credit Card details.....

Charge.... NZ$ 7809.25

Name on Card.... Jeff Vaughan
Credit Card Type... Master Card
Card Number...xxxx
Expiration Date...xxxx
CVV... xxx


Charge.... NZ$ 7809.25
Name on Card.... Jeff Vaughan

Credit Card Type... Master Card
Card Number...xxxx
Expiration Date... xxxx
CVV... xxx

After charging my credit cards, email me the total amount charged from each cards, scan the invoice/charging slip. I will then forward my travel agent's information to you for you to wire air flight tickets fee.

Thanks for your support,
Waiting for your reply.
Jeff Vaughan
Jetstar Consultants Ltd
And there it is! All I needed to do was to process Jeff Vaughan's two credit cards to secure a high-value reservation and as a bonus, I'll earn some generous commission!

OK, there's the small matter of transmitting funds back for the airline tickets, but going beyond the call of duty and providing good customer service is what we do. And besides, the pithy fee that we'll be charged after we remit the funds (I'm guessing via Western Union), pales in comparison to the commission we'll be pocketing.

I wanted to learn a bit more about Jeff Vaughan, so I asked a few more questions and got this response back:
From: Jeff Vaughan []
Subject: RE: {Disarmed} Credit Card Information For Payment...


Thanks for the response. See details needed below.....

Business Street Address....... Landywood Green Cheslyn Hay, Walsall WS6 7QX, United Kingdom
Contact Phone number.......... +44 703 5954 422
Business Website address.... Not Available
Name ad embossed on credit card.... Jeff Vaughan
Issuing Bank..... Barclay's Bank

I hope this is all you need?
Hope to read from you soon,
The address given is a charming residential/small industrial street in Walsall, UK. Sadly no street number is given so we were unable to check-out the state of Jeff's garden when the Google car last drove past.

The contact phone number, has a UK country code, but according to Google the 703 part of the number denotes a personal numbering system that is not area specific and is often used in cell phones around the world, especially by scammers.

After performing a BIN database search by entering the first 6-digits of the credit card numbers given, I was not suprised to find that the issuing bank was not Barclays UK, but a bank in the USA.

While proceeding with this request may momentarily swell an accommodation provider's bank account, the sting occurs when the real credit card holders realise their account has been hacked and instruct their bank to reverse the large debit extracted from their account. By the time this occurs, the scammers have received clear funds via telegraphic transfer from the helpful accommodation provider and are enjoying the high-life.

When you are unsure, Google is your friend. These scam-artists use various MO's, but there are several similarities in the information that they present.

As Google is very generous with flagging information in their search engines from this blog, if you are an accommodation provider and you land on this page after investigating an out-of-the-ordinary booking inquiry with some similarities as above......then we suggest you save your time by deleting the email and moving on ;-)

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