We received an interesting email from one of our readers today about an offer that is circulating on the internet advertising Marriott / SPG Platinum Status for $399 through fake Marriott Meetings.
You can access Marriott’s web page for Platinum elite benefits here.
The reader sent us correspondence with the outlet that is advertising this obscure status offer and from the bat I was already suspicious that something isn’t right here. Nevertheless before I stepped to judgement I went through the emails to confirm this is something I’d rather stay away from.
Here is the email from our reader Catherine:
wonder if you heard about the offer that [name redacted by LL] put out basically selling Marriott Platinum status for USD 399. I can’t afford all these hotel stays right now that are required for Platinum the regular way but would invest the 399 to get a foot in the door. I attach the email one of the guys sent me.
My rule of thumb is: If something sounds too good to be true it usually is and once again these words rang true as soon as I glimpsed over the email she got.
Here is the essential part of it:
… We have found a property that is able to credit the 10 conference room bookings for a total of 80 night credits.
So even if you don’t have a single stay with Marriott so far this year you can become Platinum in about a week.
We are happy to facilitate setting up the bookings in the correct order for you. You still only pay $399 – all we need is your Marriott Rewards account number and a one time payment from you. …
Back in February John actually hinted on these Marriott Meetings that credit fix amounts of nights towards your status each year (see here) and it’s been a rather open secret for years that it is possible. All nice and well as long as these meetings are taking place somehow.
However as soon as something becomes a commercial enterprise and borderline fraud as far as the T&C (as well as franchise agreements between the hotels and Marriott) are concerned you can be sure that it won’t take long until Marriott gets wind of the whole thing and shuts it down.
Participating in such a transaction could have dire implications for your Marriott Rewards account and any existing points balances. Marriott Rewards would be fully within their rights to suspend accounts that were found violating the Terms & Conditions of the program and ordering someone to book ‘fake meetings’ is certainly reason enough for doing so.
We therefore strongly advise against taking advantage any such offer be it on ebay, email chains, blogs or professional websites. You see all the time that things like hotel and airline status are being offered online and almost always (unless it’s through a partner referral – and even then it’s prohibited to sell it) the methods applied to gain that status are fraudulent.
Without naming, shaming or going any deeper into the particulars of the provider here I have to give them credit for at least laying the cards somewhat on the table and describe their modus operandi to get this status for their ‘customers’. That doesn’t make it any better though.
Marriott Rewards as well as any other loyalty program has a sophisticated fraud department that has nothing else to do than to look out and study such cases. It’s just a matter of time until they find out which property does these bookings and to find the person behind it. More than likely this will have consequences for all parties involved and if you don’t want to be caught in the middle then stay away.