Korifaeus Magazine

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Identity Theft – Easier than ever with help from Hotels

And you are….. ?
by Korifaeus

The FTC reported Identity theft is at an all time high – currently the number one crime in the country; but ID theft is not just about someone using someone else’s credit cards, nor the old scam of becoming an American citizen by using the Social Security number of deceased U.S. citizens, which used to be possible since such certain data was not shared with the different Gov. departments. ( Surely it has been corrected by now ? )

Identity theft nowadays literally involves ” Identity ” theft in many cases; the taking of a person’s identity. Be it folks pretending to be celebrities on Facebook, either for fun or to “phish” for information as pointed out in the article — (link) The Danger of Facebook , or on twitter, or walking around, aware of their similarity to a certain celebrity, pretending to be the person ( impostors) either for fun to see if they can fool the host of a fine restaurant getting a good table, or crash A-list parties, etc.

Then there are folks sharing the same name with a celebrity, and when no scruples, take advantage of it, trying to benefit from it financially, or, or, or…

Identity theft, however, goes beyond the ” Impostor” crime game, involving the taking of identities of regular folks. A few years back i went to visit Berlin for the first time and someone on the train to Berlin suggested a Hotel in Berlin Kreuzberg. Usually i stay at Ibis hotels when traveling through Europe or the Middle east, but why not try a new hotel, maybe it’s neat, i thought.

I checked into the Beethoven Hotel ( can’t say i liked the neighborhood, though) filled out the registration sheet, provided my passport for verification/identification and the young lady with a strong Slavic accent takes my passport and makes a photo-copy of it, then tells me she has to hold on to my passport until check out. HUH ?
1. It’s against the law in Germany for a private business to make a photo copy of a passport.
2. It’s against the law to hold on to someone’s passport. ( in case of “private businesses”, that is)

Thus i kindly asked for my passport back, having decided not to stay at that Hotel, and insisted on being given the photo copy of my passport, which i then ripped up, and left the hotel.

I checked into an Ibis Hotel, telling the receptionist of the Beethoven hotel incident, who then reported it ( as is the law) to the authorities, since it’s WAY against the law.

Fast forward; I have to attend a wedding in the UAE ( later that same year) and decide i spent Ramadan in the UAE ( nice and quite) until the wedding. I arrive in Dubai, stay at the Ibis, and it’s not uncommon for the receptionists to make a digital color-scan of a Passport, for security check.

The next day i drive to Abu Dhabi and check into the Sands Hotel; they too make a color-scan of my passport, but the receptionist wants to keep my passport for the time of my stay, to be returned to me when i check out. That, however, is against the law = international law.

I kindly insist to get my passport back and she gives it back to me.

Several days later, however, i witnessed something rather peculiar, not to say “concerning”. A female in a burka sort-of attire, with a LOT of jewelry, dirty fingernails, as well as dirty toe nails, strongly smelling of perfume ( during Ramadan ) enters the hotel, heading toward the Concierge. I was just about to step out, but decided to listen in.

With an, unfamiliar to me, strong accent, ( Dom ?) she asked the Concierge in Arabic if he had any passports. ( ?) The Concierge then took a bundle of passport photo-copies out of a drawer of the Concierge desk and handed them to her. ( ?).

At the same time, at the front desk behind me, i hear an English Gentlemen asking for his passport which appeared to’ve gone missing; the tall Philipino receptionist assures him they’ll find the passport, suggesting it may be in the office in the back of the reception, left near the scanner. Luckily for him, a male receptionist comes out of the office a short time later with his passport.

It should speak for itself that my observations were reported to the local authorities, as well as different Embassies, and when back in the U.S. i notified the Abu Dhabi Embassy in DC, as to the
with-holding of passports in certain hotels. The man with the Armenian/Iranian accent taking my call didn’t find it strange nor unusual, saying at the embassy they keep a whole lot of Passports and he has a lot of different Passports at the embassy (?).

I inquired if he does not think there is a difference between a “private business” with-holding passports and Embassies who issue Visas ? He didn’t think there was a difference ….. (?)

So much as to how easy it is to obtain Identities of folks internationally – Hotel photo-scans passports – gives the copies to a scam artist to be sent to say Bulgaria, or some other countries known to be the top-printers/Counterfeiters of Passports, selling Identities.

Supposed Polish hostesses not speaking a word Polish serve Breakfast in Hotels in the Shetland isles, while privately speaking Albanian with the maids on the stairway, and Amish folks in Lancaster county speak with an Australian accent.

When traveling, hold on to your Passports, 😉

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2 comments on “Identity Theft – Easier than ever with help from Hotels

  1. Amitesh
    March 2, 2013

    Reblogged this on Trident Analytical Solutions.

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