You May Be a Suspicious Hotel Guest

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by Mark Nestmann The Nestmann Group, Ltd.

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Do you routinely put the “do not disturb” sign on your hotel room door? If you do, you may fit the profile of a suspected terrorist, and the FBI and Homeland Security Administration want to know about it.

The FBI and HSA have released a joint bulletin to hotels throughout the world alerting them to potentially suspicious activities by hotel guests representing “potential indicators of terrorist activity.”

Suspicious behaviors by guests include:

  • Avoiding questions typically asked of hotel registrants
  • Requesting a specific room or floor at the hotel
  • Paying cash
  • Using payphones for outgoing calls
  • Use of Internet cafes when Internet is available in the hotel
  • Requesting that their registration at the hotel not be divulged
  • Evading hotel staff, including “refusal of housekeeping services for extended periods”
  • Registration through a third party
  • Entering and leaving the hotel using entrances and exits other than the lobby
  • Leaving unattended vehicles near the hotel building
  • Non-compliance with other hotel policies

Reviewing this list, it’s obvious that I’m a terrorist. Let’s review a typical hotel stay, say, in Zurich.

  • Avoiding questions. After a long flight, I check into my hotel. At the registration desk, I refuse to provide my email address to avoid spam.
  • Requesting a specific floor. I prefer a quiet room on a higher floor and ask for it when I register. Terrorists like peace and quiet, too, at least until it’s time to go “boom.”
  • Paying cash. Since my credit card charges a 3% fee for overseas transactions, I often pay in cash.
  • Using payphones. Foreign hotels typically charge $3 or more per minute for outgoing calls to the USA. So, I often purchase a prepaid phone card and make the calls for 1/10 the typical in-room rate from a pay phone.
  • Using Internet cafes. After one hotel stay in Zurich, at checkout I received a bill for SFr 200 for Internet use in my room. The hotel billed by the minute rather than a flat daily fee. My mistake for not asking, but I would have happily used an Internet cafe had I known in advance.
  • Evading hotel staff. I often work from my room, and restrict access to it for security and to avoid possible theft. Sometimes I sleep on the same sheets and use the same towels for two or three days. I always thought I was just a slob, but now I know that I’m a terrorist as well.
  • Avoiding the lobby. I will enter and leave a hotel through whatever entrance or exit is most convenient to my room. Obviously, that makes me a terrorist.
  • Leaving unattended vehicles near the hotel. I don’t usually have a vehicle with me when I travel internationally, but when I do I park near the hotel, generally in the hotel parking lot. Once I park the vehicle, it’s unattended. After all, it’s a bit hard to take it into the room with me.
  • Non-compliance with other hotel policies. I’m notorious for such nefarious actions as storing food or drink in the min-bar refrigerator, even if the refrigerator is reserved for mini-bar items. Sometimes I even take an apple from the breakfast buffet to snack on later.

Yes, that unshaven, white, middle-aged guy with the receding hairline slithering out the side exit to the Internet cafe might just be the next Osama bin Laden. He’s carrying a laptop and looks a little confused. Stop him now and send him to Guantanamo Bay for waterboarding. You never know, he just might confess to inappropriate use of a hotel mini-bar. Not to mention being a known or suspected breakfast buffer terrorist.

Mark Nestmann [send him mail] is a journalist with more than 20 years of investigative experience and is a charter member of The Sovereign Society's Council of Experts. He has authored over a dozen books and many additional reports on wealth preservation, privacy and offshore investing. Mark serves as president of his own international consulting firm, The Nestmann Group, Ltd. The Nestmann Group provides international wealth preservation services for high-net worth individuals. Mark is an Associate Member of the American Bar Association (member of subcommittee on Foreign Activities of U.S. Taxpayers, Committee on Taxation) and member of the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2005, he was awarded a Masters of Laws (LL.M) degree in international tax law at the Vienna (Austria) University of Economics and Business Administration.

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