Common Hotel and Restaurant Scams

By Peter Goldmann President, FraudAware Hospitality | March 31, 2010

For hospitality security personnel, auditors and controllers, the biggest anti-fraud challenge is the seemingly limitless variety of ways that employees and outsiders find to steal from the organization.

Fortunately, historical experience provides today's hotel and restaurant management with a relatively clear picture of at least the most common types of scams and schemes to which their properties are vulnerable. And, of course, knowledge is the first step toward prevention. Here is a partial list of the main forms of hotel and restaurant scams and schemes to beware of...

  • Theft of high-value inventory. Steaks and lobster tails are prime targets for dishonest employees who usually find it all too easy to spirit these products out the back door. At the hotel or restaurant bar, bottles (or sometimes even cases) of premium liquor are equally prized by internal thieves.A closely related threat in this area is collusion between kitchen or restaurant management and food vendors who create phony invoices, receipts and other records and/or engage in kickback schemes to steal from the organization.

  • Skimming. In hotel restaurants and bars, large amounts of cash are in play, even with the widespread use of room charges, comps and credit card payments. Whenever cash is exchanged between customers and employees, skimming is inevitable.

    This includes stealing customer checks that are made out to "cash"... cashing "hot" checks for friends or relatives... charging restaurant or bar customers but neglecting to ring up the sale and pocketing the cash... voiding sales and keeping the cash...and pocketing cash from guests and claiming they left the property without paying.

  • Purchasing fraud. Kickbacks and bid-rigging are favored scams among procurement personnel seeking to pad their salaries.

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