This weekend was supposed to be the Boston 411 Spring Home & Bridal Show, but it was cancelled at the last minute. Now police are saying that the entire thing was an elaborate scam that pulled in money from attendees and vendors, raking in more than $150,000 over the past five months. The scammers used a website, Facebook page and Twitter account to promote the event, used PayPal to accept payments, sold fake hotel room reservations and issued fake conference passes. Boston police and the FBI are investigating, but so far nobody has been taken into custody. [More]
Last week’s news that the Westin Casuarina hotel in Las Vegas was surreptitiously charging conference attendees for the organizer’s unpaid bill generated enough bad press that the Westin did an about-face this week, and sent out letters on Tuesday telling affected customers it is reversing the extra charges. A Westin spokesman said, “We’ve decided as a matter of customer relations to issue the refunds while continuing to pursue payment from The Coaching Center” in Austin, Texas. The Westin also says the refunds are an “effort to show our good faith,” which we assume means “please don’t sue us.”
If you were one of the conventioneers who got charged extra fees by the Westin Casuarina, we suggest you talk to your credit card company or contact The Coaching Center (according to the Houston Chronicle, the company’s president is refunding the charges directly to those affected). If you need contact info for management at the hotel, however, an anonymous tipster sent in a list of phone numbers and email addresses.
Randy saw our post earlier today about the Westin Casuarina in Las Vegas and wanted to share his own experience with them. In honor of the Casuarina’s increasingly sketchy reputation, we will add lightning to their photo.
The Westin Casuarina Hotel & Spa in Las Vegas has begun charging an unpaid $50,000 convention fee to the attendees who already paid before they attended back in October. The company that set up the event, Austin-based The Coaching Center, hasn’t paid its bill yet, and “president Suzanne Black said she was trying to arrange a payment plan when she was told by Westin management that the hotel would recoup the bill from attendees.” Now people are finding charges anywhere from $600 to $1200 on their credit card bills. Even the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority has said this isn’t standard practice, but Westin says it’s got fine print that proves it can hold you liable for any charges left unpaid on your visit.
The annual Islamic Society of North America convention, which was held this past weekend in Illinois, is the largest on the continent—this year approximately 40,000 people attended to take part in panel discussions and seminars. It’s also a bastion of shopping stalls offering every Muslim product imaginable, which leads the UK’s Guardian newspaper to wonder whether it has become “more about shopping than spirituality.”