BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Attorney General Buddy Caldwell is warning consumers of a scam targeting Louisiana convention-goers.
Caldwell says that "Room Poachers", or "Room Block Pirates", are scamming consumers by convincing attendees to book outside of an event's official room block.
"These third-party housing companies are deceptively soliciting attendees of upcoming events and falsely claiming to be the group's official housing provider," says Attorney General Caldwell.
The Louisiana Attorney General says the scam plays out as follows: Poachers secure a block of rooms at the event hotel under a fake group name. The scammers also acquire rooms at several outlying hotels in the same city. Next, the scammers get information about attendees and vendors for the upcoming event by using websites related to the convention. Poachers will then contact their victims, usually identifying themselves as the official housing bureau for the event.
Victims of the scam usually end up with low-tier hotel rooms far away from where the convention is held, or victims show up to the hotel where they find out that they never had a room reservation at all. In most cases, the victim's credit cards have already been charged.
Attorney General Caldwell is offering tips to event organizers and attendees on how to avoid being scammed by room poachers:
Educate your visitors: Warn others about the risks they take by booking rooms through any party other than the event's official booking provider.
Protect your data: Scammers go on convention and event websites to learn more about potential attendees, sponsors, and vendors. Consider member-only access to event agendas and housing reservations.
Report room scammers: If you are a victim of hotel room poaching, let Attorney General Caldwell's consumer protection hotline at (800) 351-4889.