ALERTS for B&B and Guest House Owners
On this page, we post alerts given to the Association by the Police, regulators or other bodies about potential threats to B&Bs and guest houses, for your information.
Reporting scams and email frauds:
You can report any suspected scam or fraud emails on the Actionfraud website.
4 October 2018
B&Bs targeted in nationwide "bogus bailiff" scam
B&B and guesthouse owners around the UK are being warned about a telephone scam involving a bogus bailiff claiming thousands in supposedly unpaid fees to online marketing companies. This seems to be a repeat of the scams we warned members about back in 2014 (scroll down this page for details).
Bristol enforcement agency Able Investigations and Enforcements has been the false pseudonym in at least five cases nationwide, with a fraudster posing a company agent and trying to rip off B&B owners.
The caller pretends to be Sam Jones from Able Investigations, having picked up his name and details from the Certificated Bailiff Register on the Government's Ministry of Justice website.
He then says the hapless B&B owner - reported targets have been in West Yorkshire, Sussex, north Wales and Somerset - owes several thousand pounds to Bristol County Court, in a case due that day, and that without immediate settlement of the debt further action will ensue.
Victims include Liz O'Rourke (above), who is aged 77 and for the past 17 years has managed Summerfields, a B&B in Hastings in East Sussex.
She says a man posing as "Sam Jones" told her she owed £2,700 in unpaid debt to a search engine optimisation (SEO) company and that Bristol County Court was now pursuing the debt.
After a panicked call to the court, her mind was put at rest, but she expressed concern that other B&B owners might well pay up due to the convincing nature of the bogus call.
"My first reaction was panic - what had I done, who had I defrauded? Then I checked online with my husband, called the County Court and they told me things would never have reached this stage without lengthy correspondence.
"The bailiff is real and the company exists, but anyone can find a genuine enforcement agency online and pretend to be calling under their name, so it's not Able Investigations' fault.
"And I didn't lose any money either, fortunately. But the problem is that this guy is getting away with scaring people like me. Even though I'm 77, I still manage to run a business seven days a week, but there are older people around the country who can convince to send him money.
"It's always a scam - they're so friendly and convincing but they're all con people and it's very worrying. My husband went to the police - they gave him an anti-fraud pamphlet but they clearly don't have the manpower or the interest. Presumably they think that if anyone falls for this then it's their fault.
"Our industry is highly dependent on internet presence. We do rely on Google Maps and the internet for most of our business, so we're easy prey for them.
"My concern is that there are hundreds of people out there doing this and many of the victims will be easier prey than I was. There's nothing out there to stop them."
Steve Wood is managing director of Able Investigations and Enforcements and is also the deputy chairman of industry body the Certified Enforcement Agents Association (CEAA)
He said: "Sadly, as police budgets become increasingly stretched and as the internet pervades every aspect of our lives, fraudsters and scam operators are clearly becoming more prevalent.
"At a time when the CEAA is making great efforts to improve the reputation and image of our industry, it's a shame to see behaviour like this taking place.
"We are of course upset that the good name of our company is being used in such a way, although relieved that Mrs O'Rourke had the presence of mind to check before parting with any money.
"Unfortunately we expect other bed and breakfast owners may have paid considerable sums to these fraudsters. The only silver lining to this cloud is that we can now help make the scam common knowledge, and hopefully alert anyone running an independent small business to the dangers that are out there.
"The key message is to treat any requests for money with extreme caution and never make a payment over the phone. We are happy to advise anyone who is being threatened with bailiff action as to their legal standing and appropriate actions."
17 November 2015
Solari ARRESTED by Police as a result of B&B Association Alert
We have just received this from Essex Police:
I just wanted to update you regarding wanted male, Mr Gontier De Bourbon Solari: he has now been arrested.
I received a call on Friday 13th from someone in North Yorkshire who had seen the alert on the B&B Association website.
I just want to thank you for your assistance. Without the alert on your website, Mr Gontier would not be in custody now.
Thank you very much
DC 2669 Nicola Miles
Dangerous Offender Management Team
4 November 2015
ARRESTED by Police: Malcolm Millman
The "WANTED" poster alert below was posted on this page on 31st October, and on 3rd November the Police were able to arrest this "high risk" suspect in Blackpool. He had been staying at B&Bs whilst on the run.
We are delighted that our members can help the Police apprehend suspected offenders, especially those who are suspected of having regularly defrauded B&B owners. Back in 2013, "Allan Goodin" was arrested by Police at a B&B, directly as a result of a Bed & Breakfast Association "Alert" (scroll down this page for the full story).
19 November 2014
FRAUD Alert: "Bogus Bailiff" Scam
The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has notified the B&B Association of a fraud whereby the offenders are telephoning victims purporting to be bailiffs chasing a debt owed by the victims, and using the threat of legal action to extort money from them. The fraudsters are claiming to represent legitimate debt recovery companies, and often use the name of a genuine certificated bailiff as their alias. The scam has so far been reported by a large number of victims scattered across England and the suspects appear to be primarily targeting nurseries as well as small businesses, such as bed and breakfasts and guest houses.
Current method employed by fraudsters:
The victim receives a phone call from the suspect claiming to represent a debt recovery agency (eg "Jacobs Certificated Bailiffs"), chasing a debt on behalf of The Business Directory for money allegedly owed for advertising space. The caller, who according to reports speaks with a Scottish accent and commonly goes by the name 'Derek Jones', threatens legal action by the Birkenhead County Court if payment is not made. To add further plausibility to the story, the suspect claims that the victim's business made a one off payment to The Business Directory at some stage in the past and was contractually obliged to make repeat payments on a monthly basis. The suspect pressurises the victim to transfer funds into a specified bank account in order to settle the debt.
Anyone affected by this fraud, or any other scam, should contact Action Fraud, where fraud can be reported by calling 0300 123 2040, or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk.
28 July 2014
POLICE ALERT: Henri Michel Gontier de-Bourbon Solari
STOP PRESS: 17 Nov 15: Henri Gontier de-Bourbon Solari ARRESTED by Police
Essex Police have asked the Association to pass on this warning:
Henri Michel GONTIER DE-BOURBON SOLARI, aged 64, is a Registered Sex Offender who has been missing since January 2013. He has in excess of 50 alias names. He is wanted by Essex Police for Failing to comply with his sex offender notification requirements. We are appealing to the bed and breakfast in all communities, in all areas for information to help locate him.
There is no information to suggest that this man is a specific risk to children. Information suggests that he is a serial fraudster and also regularly makes off without payment from bed and breakfast accommodation. He often claims to be a pastor of the church and preys on the good will of communities to give him money. He claims to have several medical conditions such as diabetes, heart condition and eye complaints.
Please contact your local police if this man is staying with you or you know his current whereabouts.
Please contact Essex Police, South DOMT on 01268 244062 should you have information about this man.
18 November 2013
Warning: the "inter-hotel-guide"
Our member FG in Glasgow sends the following warning:
"A company called connect publisher (email@example.com) based in Mexico sent a short letter/form stating the name/address details of my guest house asking for it to be sent back and they would give free listing on an international directory (www.inter-hotel-guide.com). A pre paid envelope was provided.
"Three months later a bill came in with a photocopy of the initial form stating that the very small print also says they will make an on line page advertising your business, this then becomes a bill for the cost of doing this, which was never requested/discussed. They also mention that they had given a two week cooling off period where you could change your mind, but this did not happen, as it had been three months from sending back the form which we thought was just for a free listing until the bill came in with no communication from them over that time.
"They took without permission information and images from my own web site.
"I have contacted trading standards and they are aware of this company in Mexico, they have also been involved in a scam regarding Trade Fair directories, where people thought they were signing up to a free listing in a trade directory then further bills would come in."
27 February 2013
B&B Association "Alert" leads to Arrest
of B&B Fraudster by Police
This page has let to the Police arrest this month of a serial fraudster who owed money to a number of B&Bs and hotels after he left without paying. In the words of the B&B owner concerned (who prefers to remain anonymous):
"I own a B&B in Carlisle and would like to offer our thanks to the Bed & Breakfast Association. We suspected a guest we had staying of being a fraudster, so we Googled Bed and Breakfast Fraudster UK. The results included The B&B Association's Alerts page - and on this page there is a picture of "Allan Goodin" [scroll down this page], who we recognised as our guest.
I rang the police and they arrested him at 08:45 this morning (13 Feb)."
For the full story, read the March 2013 issue of Bed & Breakfast News magazine.
(For the original Alert about "Allan Goodin", scroll down this page.)
3 March 2012
Look out for Martin Palmer
Look out for a male who was arrested for making off without payment from a Bristol Hotel - his details are as follows:
Martin Palmer, 30 years old. He is a white male, slim build with a gaunt face, 5ft 11, short dark brown hair which is gelled forwards, small gold stud in left ear.
His MO is to call the hotel/guest house/B&B prior to arrival and request that he pays for his accommodation etc at the end of his stay. Once this has been agreed he will arrive at the location but before he reaches the end of his stay he leaves without paying for any of the services he has acquired.
He was arrested on 1st March 2012 from a hotel in Bristol and has been charged with 3 offences of Making off without payment. He has been bailed to Bristol Magistrates Court, with conditions of not to enter any hotel, guest house or any B&B. He is aware that if he breaches these conditions he will be arrested.
Many thanks for your help and co-operation.
If you have further questions regarding this please do not hesitate to contact me.
PC 1839, Team D, New Bridewell Police Station
1 March 2012
The "Business Directory":
Our member MF writes: "We have had several times in the last few months (possibly a couple of years) a guy comes on the phone saying he is from Business Directory, or something, and we need to update our listing. Then they say we are behind on payments and we owe them £99. The moment I question this and try to find out more about them they put the phone down. Today I threatened them with the police. Unfortunately there isn't anyway of tracing them, as the number is withheld (of course) and they won't (can't) give a web address or whatever.
The guy always sounds reasonable and plausible, and keeps on doing it. So he must be quite effective, otherwise he would have stopped a long time ago. That is a real shame.
So, a warning to all B&Bs not to succumb."
22nd July 2011
Scam warning from Newham Council:
"Currently there is a fraud scam being perpetrated across the country on bed and breakfast establishments. They are receiving a fraudulent cheque allegedly drawn on the London Borough of Newham Housing Benefits account. The bed and breakfasts receive an email asking to book a room for a period on the promise of a cheque. They receive the fraudulent Newham Council cheque which is hand written and drawn for a sum much greater than the room. They then ask for a refund of the amount overpaid to be sent via Western Union to their travel agent in Australia. The council is suffering reputation damage although no loss to itself as the cheque account number with that sort code is invalid so the cheques will bounce but in the meantime some establishments may be foolish enough to make a refund. The Co-op bank relationship manager has told us it isn't possible to issue an alert through the banking system to assist small businesses to be alert to this fraud scam."
11th May 2011
"Media Today Online"
From Brian at the Glenmore House B&B, Alloa:
Within the last four weeks I was contacted by a company, MEDIA TODAY ONLINE, based in Warwickshire in relation to media advertising for both our B&B and pre-wedding business. Their sales pitch is extremely professional and the services offered appeared to be most beneficial. I entered into a verbal contract with them to cary out some advertising work for me. Over the last four weeks, there have been six transactions from my account, four of which were unauthorised. Having contacted a couple of similar businesses highlighted on their website I have found that they have experienced similar problems with not providing the services promised and indeed on at least one occasion attempts were made to withdraw unauthorised debits from the account. I am in the process of collating similar concerns with a view to refering the issue to the Advertising Standards Agency and at the moment I am reviewing the circumstances in relation to a possible complaint of fraud. This alert is purely for those who are contacted by the company in the future and anyone who has experienced similar problems to get in touch with me at the following email address:
29th October 2010
Current Email "Scams"
There remain lots of versions of the "Greek priests" scam around, so be careful. These are typically requests to book a group in for several days, and to pay in advance by credit card along with an extra payment intended for a third party - eg car hire, translation services etc. - a sample:
"I have been instructed to pay you for your services and provision of a language translator whom would be able to translate every word to them because they are Swiss.I have arranged this with a linguist who is willing to undertake these responsibilities on their behalf. He would be with them throughout their stay with you..
I will send you my credit card details when I receive your confirmation email so that you would charge as agreed/authorized by my clients.
However upon the receipt of my credit card, confirm you will charge as follows:
Take the 50% cost of your services plus 5900Pounds for the Translator from my card..
Then deduct your deposit and send the balance of 5900Pounds to the Translator.
I really need you to make the charges for theTranslator as he does not have a POS machine."
Beware of any approaches from this "publication" asking for advertising. It only seems to exist online and we are aware of people who have paid to "advertise" to no effect. Trading Standards are involved.
Business Sales Companies - Unethical Sales Techniques
A B&B owner writes:
"I would like to bring your attention to the fact that certain companies are targeting bed & breakfast who are 'selling up' in this recession. These companies, such as RTA Business Sales, Meridian and Sovereign, take an 'up-front' fee and then , typically, place just two adverts on a couple of websites. When the business owner gives up and sells through another route, these Business Sales Agents threaten litigation and extort money out of the business owners. I say 'extort' because their contracts have been found, in court, to contain unfair terms."
"Just type RTA COMPLAINTS into Google and you will see what I mean...."
5th August 2010 | Updated 2 Nov 2010
A message from HAMPSHIRE CONSTABULARY:
A male by the name of Allan GOODIN has been attending B&B all over the country, staying and then leaving making no payment and stealing.
He is still very active and has recently been in the Sussex area. I have managed to obtain an up to date photo of the male, which appears below, and ask for your help in stopping him. I would appriciate any assistance.
Gives name of ALLAN GOODIN, though has used 24 aliases. He has a tattoo on left forearm giving name of "LYNN".
UPDATE, 2 November:
Mr Goodin was arrested two weeks ago and charged with over 30 offences for which he is currently on remand awaiting sentence.
Many thanks for your assistance.
PC 3561 Emma Malley Hampshire Constabulary
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