Orlando Transient Eyed in Luxury Hotel Scams Dating Back to 2010

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David Price was arrested at the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel in Orlando, Fla., June 28, 2012.
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Orlando cops are combing through reports of hotel fraud dating back to 2010 to see if a transient man charged with living on room service in luxury hotels by using other peoples' credit cards is liable for additional charges.

David Price, 30, would identify hotel guests who were checking out of posh hotels, gain access to their rooms and extend their stays, said Corporal Dave Allmond, spokesman for the Orlando police department.

"He would use their phone and call the front desk, and say something like, 'Hi, this is room whatever, I'd like to extend my stay," Allmond said. "When the desk said "Certainly sir, would you like to put it on your credit card?' He'd say yes."

Once settled into the room, Price charged expenses to the previous occupant, staying days after their intended check out dates, said Allmond.

Allmond said once Price got confirmation to extend his stay, he'd ask for more room keys to be sent up, allowing him to charge room service, bar tabs, shopping sprees, and even restaurant bills to the former occupant's credit card on file.

Price was arrested at the Loews Portofino Bay in Orlando on last Thursday thanks to a tip off from hotel security, said Allmond.

Allmond said security was able to track Price because he had gained entry to a room of a hotel employee who had recently checked out.

"[Security] was able to get a hold of the person who checked out of the room," said Allmond. "We found out through a paper trail that [Price] was in the process of charging something to the room that we suspected was the fraudulent room at the time of the arrest."

An arrest warrant had been issued for Price on June 23 at the Hard Rock Hotel, another Loews-owned property, said Allen Moore, public information officer for the Orange County Corrections Department.

According to the warrant, Price was to be charged with grand theft and obtaining food and lodging in attempt to defraud an innkeeper when arrested.

His bail was posted at $1,150. He bonded out from Orange County jail on Friday afternoon, said Moore.

Allmond said the Orlando police department has old reports dating back to 2010 of hotel fraud that they are trying to tie to Price. If Price is accused further, charges will be filed with the Florida state attorney.

Jennifer Hodges, media relations contact for both the Hard Rock Hotel and the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, said she was unable to comment given the ongoing police investigation.

At this time, the Orlando police do not suspect he had been working with any employees in the hotels he had frequented, said Allmond.

Hotel honor systems may have enabled Price to live luxuriously at the cost of a paying guest, said Robert Siciliano, McAfee Security Systems identity theft expert.

"There's a flaw in the hotel's policy when it comes to properly checking identification," he said. "[Scammers] come off as being calm, cool, and collected to the receptionist or the desk clerk, and they are believable."

Siciliano said that in the hospitality industry, it's common for upscale hotels, like the ones Price visited, to focus on being cordial to guests in attempts to not offend them, rather than focusing on security.

"The reality is that today, asking for identification and properly vetting your guests should not be considered a violation of their privacy, and it shouldn't be considered a form of harassment," he said. "It should be considered a fundamental way of doing business to protect those guests."

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