The internet reservation scam exposed in Caterer (16 December, page 8) claimed another unsuspecting victim this week.
The White Swan hotel in Pickering, North Yorkshire, has become the second hotel, after Blades in London, to highlight this worrying new con.
The scam involves bookings from Africa made via the internet. The reservation is made using a fake credit card and the potential clients never intend to stay at the hotel. The fraudsters' motives are unknown, but it is possible that the printouts of booking confirmations are used to help gain entry into the UK
Anna Briggs, marketing manager of the White Swan, said: "I was suspicious initially because the booking name didn't match that on the credit card. I wasted a lot of time and God knows how much money ringing the US credit card company to tell them about the fraud.
"This booking could have been worth nearly £1,000, so it was very annoying that it turned out to be a waste of time."
The Home Office has denied that booking confirmations from the internet would automatically provide access into the UK. It added that its staff were trained to spot people making bogus applications to visit the country.