Hotel Scams

Posted by Analyse at 5:37 PM

Thursday, March 10, 2005

If you think your safe in a 5-star hotel in Makati, then think twice. An email has been sent to me by a friend, who, herself, was also a victim of this scam in one of our so-called first class hotels in Makati. Read this:

Subject: Shangri-La Hotel Incident: please read

My daughter and I departed from San Francisco Intl. Airport on January 14. 2005 and arrived in Manila at 5:15 am, Sunday Jan. 16. 2005. Prior arrangements were made for us to be picked up from the airport by Shangri-La Hotel Makati. Upon arrival, we were met by an unmarked Shangri-La car.

We checked in at 5:50 am. We were assigned Room 2704. Our luggages (4 Pcs) were brought to our room a few minutes later. Since this was a Sunday, we had the day to just rest and visit with some friends. We ordered room service (light breakfast) and got dressed. We left the hotel to attend Sunday Mass at 9:30 am and returned to our hotel room at 4 pm. We were then picked up by relatives from the hotel for dinner at 6:30 pm. We were back at the hotel room at around 9:45 pm.

As soon as we retired to bed, the nightmare began. At approximately 10 pm the telephone rang, in the dark, I crawled to answer the phone and on the other line the operator asked me if I knew a certain Abdul something and that there were 7 men wanting to go up to our room. I told her in an emphatic way that I did not want anyone coming up and that I did not know anyone by that name and that I was not expecting anyone that evening. She then told me to call the head of Security (a woman named Lourdes) from my cell phone while she waited on the other line. As soon as I connected to this Lourdes, she said she was a hotel employee connected with the Abu Sayaf and that all of the employees were in this together and it will not do me any good if I attempted to call for help! That they do this to a lot of hotel guests and that they take care of the Makati police, politicians, etc. At this time, fear had set in. She knew my name, and said that we should have been kidnapped earlier but if I just followed everything she ordered me to do, we would not be harmed. At this point, the main thing that occurred in my mind was the recent warnings to travellers especially American citizens to be aware of our surroundings for fear that we may be kidnapped for ransom. She also told me that our room was being monitored by housekeeping and security. There were instances wherein I raised my voice, and she was quick in warning me to calm down or I would get hurt! She also told me that if we attempted to leave the room, they would spray our room. I was basically trapped with this woman using my own cell phone. I was worried for our lives! She asked me how much cash and jewelry we had. She ordered me to go out of the hotel and catch a taxi not from the front of the hotel but to walk out to the street and catch a cab. There was a cab waiting in the corner, we got in, was ordered to go to a 7-11 store, have the cab wait, purchase several thousand pesos of Globe and Smart phone cards. She had me read each and every number and pin number over the phone. We rode the cab again, this time, she ordered us to withdraw some more cash from a 24-hour CitiBank ATM machine. Since I did not remember my pin number, my daughter used her card. We rode the cab again and was ordered to let the driver drive to another city (did not realize how seedy the area was until we got there) to F.B. Harrison, and go to another mini store and order the taxi to leave. A woman by the name of Lisa will pick up the money and phone cards. Upon reaching the mini store, my daughter heard the driver say, do you want me to stay for your security? Taking a chance, I shushed the driver to be quiet. I signalled for him to wait.

We then entered the store, and I asked this Lourdes, where this Lisa is. She then asked me why I told the taxi driver to wait. She obviously knew I had asked the driver to wait because she told me that was their driver! So we went out and told him to leave. While waiting for this Lisa, Lourdes ordered me again to purchase more phone cards, did the same routine of reading off all the numbers and pin numbers. After this process, she ordered us to step out of the store, turn left in a dark alley, and walk until we see this woman Lisa. We were walking but decided to stop because it was getting darker. I demanded where this woman was, so this Lourdes in a sarcastic voice, told me how do you expect to see her if you stopped walking? (They were obviously watching us). Before we handed over the cash, she instructed us to go back to the hotel and wait for her call. Then she ordered me to hand over my ‘Philippine’ cell phone to this woman.

We hailed another cab and returned to the hotel. As we were packing since we wanted to leave the hotel immediately, the phone rang again, and this time she told us the cash was not enough and handed over the phone to their ‘Commandant’. He sounded very scary and demanding. He ordered us to call the front desk and have more phone cards charged to our room and brought up. Once we had the cards, I read all these numbers and pin numbers again and was ordered to flush all these in the toilet. In the meantime, she warned us that if we told anyone about this, they knew our flight schedule and that they would kidnap us. Then she ordered that we open another suitcase to look for cash. Obviously, we did not have any cash. She told us to check out of the hotel before the 5 am shift because this shift could do this to us again. Even without her telling us this, we were so scared, we just wanted to get out of that hotel.

We checked out at 1:03 am and took a cab to go to our relative’s residence at Rockwell Makati.

We were both trembling all the way to our relative’s place. We were both trying to be brave for each other but in reality, we were so traumatized by this event. We consoled each other and thanked God that we are alive. It could have been worse. My daughter was so traumatized that she wanted for us to take the next flight out in the morning, but because I had several important meetings to attend to, she agreed to stay a couple of days. Under the advice of my client, we booked ourselves to return to the States on January 19, 2005, Wednesday instead of the original date of January 21, 2005.

The next day, we mentioned this to our lawyer friend, and he did a little investigation of Shangri-La Hotel, and apparently there were three other victims the same day and all of us were picked up by the Shangri-La Hotel.

We were still so scared of taking the ride to the NAIA Airport, but fortunately, our lawyer friend provided us with top security all the way to our airplane.

Apparently, this modus operandi targets balikbayans and not foreigners. They want money, and they get it. I don’t know if the owners of these big hotels or our Tourism Department are aware of this incident. Maybe not. I did a quick search on the net about a possible exposé or article on this incident and only found this
which doesn’t give any detail at all. Are these kinds of stories taboo in our daily journals?

I just hope my friend will find the courage to tell the story and get over with the trauma this incident had caused her and her family.

What is happening to our country? Where are we going? Why are we, Filipinos, insist on pushing our beloved country into the ditch?

I hate to say this but: Mga kababayan, ingat po tayo sa ating kapwa kababayan.


mell ditangco (this is my pseudonym) said...

that story was simply bone chilling!

Anonymous said...

salut analyse!

oh, this is quite scary...

i just don't get it, why was she the one who called up the "security", and using her cellphone pa?
c'est un peu louche, tu ne trouves pas?'s already late...pero un peu de 'bloghopping' muna (mais seulement les blogs préférées huh?) avant dormir hehe.

bokidoks en hiatus

Analyse said...

oh, thanks for dropping by bokidoks, touched ako dun :)

yeah, yun ang pagkakamali nya, she shouldnt have said she's got a cellphone, she was trapped because of that.

my friend (she stayed in another hotel in makati), on the other hand denied that she has a cellphone, so she was able to use her cellphone to ask for help from family and friends. as in dumating sila with policemen and NBI people! it's really bone-chilling as exactly the same plot was done with my friend, tapos reading this story, grabe!

so careful next time..

Anonymous said...

Good design!
[url=]My homepage[/url] | [url=]Cool site[/url]

Anonymous said...

Nice site!
My homepage | Please visit

Anonymous said...

Well done! |

Anonymous said...

what a story.. a friend told me this blah blah blah who knows a friend who told me this blah blah blah...

Anonymous said...

probably this is being emailed to millions of pinoys/painays leaving abroad to scare the shit out of everybody...

nobody will ever come to the philippines....

Analyse said...

Anonymous, please identify yourself the next time you visit here.

i understand your anger, if i received such email without knowing somebody who had the same experience, i would probably have the same reaction as you. i would think that it's a complete blackmail against our country. i didnt mean to scare by posting this on my blog, i was just trying to inform. yes, my dear, such fiasco exists in our country. and i assure, i felt bad too.