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Barron hard-up after credit card scam

Northern Echo editor Peter Barron was stung by a couple who used his credit card for a luxury break at a five-star hotel.

Mr Barron, 38, was shocked to receive a letter from The Grand Hotel, in Eastbourne, inviting him back for another stay – and a bill for almost £400.

He said: “I’ve never even been to Eastbourne in my life but I have run up a huge hotel bill there with a woman I have never met. It would have been lovely to have stayed at such a luxury place myself, but with four children I don’t really get the chance.”

He has traced the fraud back to a visit he made to Hastings last month to run a training course.

At a local hotel, Mr Barron’s jacket, containing his credit cards and mobile phone, went missing for half-an-hour when the group moved conference rooms.

Mr Barron said: “I went to reception where a customer said they had seen a jacket lying in a corridor. I was so relieved because nothing was missing, but someone must have noted down my credit card details.”

The fraudster, calling himself Peter Barron, booked a two-night break at The Grand on a mobile phone giving the editor’s Visa card details. He later confirmed the late booking by fax – which was sent from a drop-in copy shop in Hastings.

Hours later, the phoney Mr Barron and friend arrived for their stay in the £200-a-night room and were not asked to show the credit card. That night, they splashed out about £170 on food and drink and then left a day earlier than expected.

Jonathan Webley, general manager of The Grand Hotel, said security checks were always reviewed after an incident of fraud. But Mr Barron said the system was not good enough: “If they had asked to see the card, this would probably not have happened.”

A spokesman for the Co-op Bank, which will cover the bill, said: “As a rule most hotels ask for cards when the guests arrive.”

Looking on the bright side, the tale of woe did make a page one story for the Brighton Evening Argus which, like the Northern Echo, is owned by the Newsquest publishing group.

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