FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. – When most of us find some time and extra money for a vacation we go online and admire beautiful vacation photos from exotic places. We dream and it's something criminals take advantage of when you book online.
"We had some guests that arrived," explained Ft. Lauderdale Hotel and Spa general manager Heidi Dennis. "We did not have their reservation and we looked everywhere, it can happen."
In this case the guests booked their stay online and even brought a printed confirmation showing they had a reservation.
"When we looked at it more closely we realized it was not any of our confirmation numbers," Dennis detailed. "Or the third party sites that we do use and it also had a faulty address on it was not our address. It was a completely different location, but it did have our pictures on there."
The site was a fake; a copy of the Atlantic Hotel and Spa designed to scam you out of money. This time it worked.
Rep. Lois Frankel explained, "this is happening millions of millions of times all over the country costing travelers over a billion dollars every single year because of these fraudulent websites"
Today Rep. Frankel introduced a bill to help prevent your dream vacation from becoming a nightmare.
"Our efforts are not only to clearly try to prevent this from happening, but to educate consumers," explained Rep. Frankel. "So they report and it gets taken care of and we are empowering state attorney generals to be able to take action as well as the FTC."
The bill titled the 'Stop Online Booking Scams Act' proposes third party sites like Expedia and Priceline clearly disclose they are not affiliated with the hotel. The bill also gives State Attorneys General more power to go after those behind fraudulent booking sites and it simplifies hotel booking fraud reporting procedures to the FTC.