Eyewitness News investigates a scam targeting travelers across the country, including tourists in the Central Valley. You can practically see Yosemite National Park from the City of Oakhurst. One thing travelers may not expect in this scenic spot is a phone call in their hotel room from a scammer.
"It happened about a week ago," said Bill Putnam, General Manager of Best Western in Oakhurst.
Putnam says the hotel has been targeted by someone for months. The caller asks the front desk to connect him to a room. Once he gets through, he tells the guest he's a hotel employee needing to confirm credit card information because of a glitch in the system.
"It is not very sophisticated, but it is very successful," said Blair Looney, President and CEO of BBB Central California.
The Better Business Bureau says scammers sometimes call late at night or overnight, trying to catch people when their guard is down.
"Scammers are very smart people and they're very good at getting this information from us. They gain our confidence very quickly," said Looney.
At least one Best Western customer apparently fell for it.
"She mentioned it at the front desk and we said, 'we don't do that,' and she was fortunately able to notify her credit card company," said Putnam.
He also says the hotel no longer connects callers to room unless they have the guests name and room number. The web site "
"Snopes" shows the "Hotel Room" scam has been circulating since 2008. Various news outlets report that it's recently popped back up all over the country this summer.
"It's somebody trying to get rich the easy way. Unfortunately it's at the expense of my guests and we don't like that!" said Putnam.
He put the word out to neighboring hotels and the Chamber of Commerce. The spokesperson for the Madera County Sheriff's Department says it hasn't received any complaints or reports of the scam.
Experts recommend hanging up on anyone that randomly calls asking for your personal information.
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