Hotel Booking Scam – WARNING: Do not use guestreservations.com
New Hotel Booking Scam discovered! Recently we booked a room in a well known luxury Hotel. The hotel’s website marked the desired room as not available. So, we looked around on the Internet and got hit by the scam.
It wasn’t the Negresco Hotel in Nice! We chose it to keep the real hotel hidden from the scammers.
How it started
We wanted to pass a long weekend in a luxury hotel where we already had stayed before. We went to the hotel’s own website to book our room. Unfortunately the desired room category hadn’t been available anymore. So we used Google to look whether our preferred category was available on a booking site. Usually we book directly, but sometimes we book over Agoda or Booking.com.
Microsoft’s Bing showed such a result:
The first line looked good. The two others didn’t correspond to the hotel we looked for. So we clicked on the offered link. The answer was fast, the address looked serious and the displayed page had been professionally built.
The URL, the internet address of the website didn’t rise our suspicion because many hotels outsource their booking operation to external service providers. So we went on with our booking.
Also this page looked fine. We then filled in the registration form. There were 3 hints for a scam displayed. We didn’t get aware of them, because we were tired rather late in the night.
- The count-down clock is usually not displayed on booking pages. It runs in the background and before time is up, you are asked, if you need more time. But OK, we didn’t get nervous.
- The booking summary looks serious, but this “Tax recovery charges and service fees” should have lit all our warning lamps. The light didn’t go on – unfortunately.
- This fine-print wasn’t too suspicious. The interpretation follows below.
We discovered the Hotel Booking Scam
When you book a hotel room or an airline ticket, your credit card is charged some days before you check-in. This makes possible cancellations much easier. But guestreservations.com charged our credit card about 15 minutes after the booking had been done. Strange!!! In the bill they sent us by e-mail, they wrote:
This payment will be processed in the United States and will appear on your statement as “cci*Hotel Res”.
By booking this reservation you have accepted the Terms and Conditions.
This was the moment when we felt the heat flaming in our faces. But they offered free cancellation until 2 days before our stay. We clicked on the link, but nothing happened. The only possible contact with them is a phone number in the USA: 01 87 40 67 47. Other numbers are displayed depending from what country you read the website. We tried to find the company, because nowhere on their website is an imprint or a business address.
Trying to track the Hotel Booking Scam
We first went sleeping. Next morning I did a “trace route” to the web server. The result showed: 188.8.131.52. With a “whois” I then found that it is a server hosted by Cloudflare on their Cloudflarenet in San Francisco, California. And the company or person behind guestreservations.com did more to hide their/his identity:
The hotel confirmed our suspicion
When we arrived at the hotel, we were already expected. This was a good sign, because having discovered the scam, I feared that the whole money had been gone. I then asked the very friendly staff to see the Front Desk Manager. Ten minutes and a welcome drink later I could talk to the responsible person.
She told me that the reservation had come over Agoda and that everything is OK. When I showed her a hardcopy of the booking form with the famous “Tax recovery charges and service fees”, her jaw dropped. Here is the hotel’s anonymized registration card.
How the Hotel Booking Scam works
First of all, the scammer(s) must know how hotel booking works. Then it could look as this:
- The scammer(s) generates dynamic domain names of the style “hotelname.guestreservations.com”.
- He/they put them as sponsored ads on Google and Bing and probably other search engines. The price per click is high, but the revenue per booking is outstanding.
- When you send your booking information, they retrieve the offers from the Agoda database and sometimes even add pictures.
- When you send all your booking information, their scripts immediately book at Agoda with your data, except the credit card information. Tricky are your phone number and your email address. Because the hotel receives them, but you do not get a confirmation from Agoda.
- They immediately charge your credit card and disappear for ever.
- Nice business with a revenue of about the price of 3 nights in your hotel!
You can help
We now liked try to get in contact with Agoda. But Agoda Company Pte. Ltd. is a subsidiary of Booking Holdings, 800 Connecticut Avenue, Norwalk, Connecticut 06854. Never wake up sleeping wolves. Maybe guestreservations.com is also a hidden member of this holding. This would explain the fast access to Agoda’s database. We do not accuse, we investigate.
If you have also have made reservations with guestreservations.com, please inform us using the comment form below.
We do not accuse, we investigate
While surfing in all directions I found the following:
Fraud! Expedia posing as TripAdvisor to get reservations …
WHO IS GETAROOM and why did I receive a receipt from …
This Hotel Booking Scam Has Already Duped Millions of …
Cci*hotel Reservation – Complaint Board
Hotel Booking Scam – WARNING: Do not use guestreservations.com
Hotels, resorts and guests will be protected from scammers if the business put Click-to-Talk button on their website so that prospects can verify them immediately – free call from anywhere. Rgds Renee.
I live in a rural market and we have straightforward honest dealings such as hotel bookings at respectful hotels.. Last night I had to make a rather quick reservation at Best Western in Globe. I looked at the google search adn saw amention and picture of Best Western. I made arrangements and indeed my room was available, the booking was there. I soon found out I was charged $45.00 “tax recovery fee” for a $118.00 hotel booking. This is excessive is it not? I also need a regular hotel itemized receipt and they do not supply this. My company is a big health organization and they will not accept a “confirmation” document. I lost 150.00 dollars for using getaroom.com last night.
Feeling sorry for you.
This is an extreme scam protected by US laws. These websites are hidden by Cloudeflare and domain registrars.
To get the name and address of the company that owns these websites, you have to file a complaint at a court in the USA.
This is almost impossible for individuals living outside the USA.
Maybe you inform Best Western’s customer service. Maybe their legal department will follow your case.
You also may refer to my article.
I was ripped off by these crooks out of 131.82 DO NOT USE GETAROOM.COM UNLESS YOU DON’T CARE ABOUT YOUR MONEY THESE PEOPLE ARE THEIFS.
I was robbed of my money tonight. I could not understand the person on the call. Then i could finally understand them. They said the room charge was 124 bucks a night. So i needed two nights and booked. I was charged 386 because of taxes. Seemed high to me but they told me there was only 2 rooms left with that price…. so i booked. Called back 10 min later. They had none of my info recorded no confirmation email was sent. Called my credit and dispute the claim. DO NOT TRUST these people. They SCAM you.
CCI took me for a ride as I was trying to make reservations late at night, thought I was on Best Western website for a local hotel, selected one of over ten rooms that allegedly available and was charged a $136 fee for tax and “recovery.” Tried to call CCI and auto op would not route call to a human, said to call hotel. I called BW, they never received reservations from CCI, and they only had one room (handicap) available. I took it and paid via AX. Cancelled my visa card due to what appeared to be fraudulent activity. I have notified BW of the scam…. hope they can do something to protect their customers.
I am dealing now with this scam, booked a hotel in Geneva, reservation never came through, and had to pay the hotel there after paying 200 swiss francs on the site. This is insane. Booking was with NH hotel
We booked a room at the Tuscany Suites in Las Vegas, nv . The room was stated on the website to be $35.37 with a resort fee of $18.65 with a total of $54.02. This was 4-25-21. My credit card statement showed a charge of $54.02 from CCI Hotel Reservation. Another charge from Tuscany Suites of $44.22. When I called the hotel, they said the $44.22 was a resort fee. They don’t have a room rate. Sounded strange to me. That charge was not on the website (Guestreservation.com). I guess we were lucky it was only $44.22 more than we were supposed to pay and the hotel did have a room for us when we arrived. The receipt from the hotel did say “Resort Fee”. I didn’t notice that there was no room rate. What hotel does that? No room rate or tax on the receipt.
This is exactly the scam company i described in my article.
They charged me twice for a room so I’m out $1100! My bank says they can’t do anything. I’m sick about it.
Booked a room in my old college town using guestreservations. Scammed me for almost $300 labeled as a “tax recovery charge”. I was surprised and upset, so I called the hotel and they said that in order to cancel, you’d have to do it through the 3rd party site. I called them and their robot said it was nonrefundable. Then I thought, let me try to see if I can get the same result if I try again. I went and chose a room on the same website the next day, and same room, same hotel, same time duration, but the initial price of the room per night had gone down from $99 to $94 a night. I was expecting some sort of normal change but their “tax recovery” charge had increased from the previous $295 to $388, even though the price of the room had been reduced. If that’s not a scam, I don’t know what is.
Here is the company details from the Better Business Bureau. I just was scammed in a very similar way by them reserving a hotel in Switzerland. I did it on the iPhone, and there you never even see the total, it is below the final “pay” button, so you just don’t scroll down that far…..
Just did a reservation for the Hilton in Austin TX, and I checked the rates through Google Maps. It looked legit when I chose one of the rates. I thought I’m on the Hilton website. I guess I was naive. When I got the final numbers of the booking, I saw $335.08 Tax recovery charges and Service Fees. When I eventually checked the final costs on the actual Hilton Website, I figured the difference was $218.-. I contacted Hilton, and they confirmed that the reservation is legit, but I got screwed with those $218.- extra charge!! When you call guestreservations.com, you will be placed in an hold line for a loooooong time. I give up after one hour. Now I’m trying to cancel the charge through my credit card provider.
Still these criminals!!
Spread the word.
Still these criminals!
Please spread the word.
On 27/05/22, I tried to book a room at Holiday inn express B.ham NEC UK, and the website took payment but then I had a message to call a number as there was a problem with the booking. It seemed to be a lady with an Asian accent who said she would make the booking. She took my card details again and said that the booking was now confirmed. I have checked with the hotel by driving there personally and they do have a reservation but through an agent (same as above guestreservations) and the amount I have paid is almost twice the price. Also payment was taken is USD when in the Uk we have GBP? this also incurred bank charges on me. The Holiday Inn hotel website is seriously corrupted by these scammers and they even have their telephone number shown on holiday inn webside. After further investigations I also found the scammers name CCI Hotel Res USA shown on my bank statment. whatch out people people the Holiday inn express website is flawed by scammers!!!