When Paula Lukin booked an overnight stay in December at Chicago's Allerton Hotel, she was planning a romantic holiday getaway with her boyfriend.
"It was a beautiful day that day. We walked down Michigan Avenue," Lukin recalls.
But several days after the couple says they checked out of the hotel, something very wrong and very expensive happened inside the room where they spent one night.
"I thought they would help me. But the way we were treated was just wrong," says Lukin.
When they checked out, the invoice from their visit showed a zero balance - no extra charges. But 10 days later, the first sign of trouble reared its ugly head when Lukin's boyfriend, Rajko Djuric tried to use his debit card and couldn't. That's when he discovered a whopping $1,572 charge to the debit card he used to secure the room at the Allerton. Those funds were immediately taken out of his savings - connected to the extensive charges that paint the picture of someone at the Allerton having an excellent time.
"That's with movies every night, room service and cocktails at the bar," Lukin says.
Receipts show that for six consecutive days after Lukin and Djuric say they checked out, someone lived in that room. And lived well. There were frequent calls for room service, trips to the lobby bar, and plenty of movies in the room.
"I showed them a picture of us. I said check your cameras. We were there. We checked out the following day," Lukin says.
But what Lukin assumed was an easy mistake to fix turned out to be quite the opposite. She says the Allerton refused to look at her proof.
"Obviously the signatures didn't match. But they just pretty much said they wouldn't give us our money back."
So NBC 5 Investigates took a look at the paper trail that shows the couple was not in that room. Receipts show they paid to exit a downtown parking garage on their scheduled checkout day. While the couple drove toward Djuric's home in Willowbrook, a bank statement shows they stopped at Starbucks. At the same time, someone in their hotel room ordered room service for lunch.
As Lukin headed to the Wisconsin Dells with her kids, the person in room 1008 was racking up charges at the lounge inside the hotel lobby. Djuric's trips to a suburban grocery store near his home are also part of his debit trail. At the same time, receipts show the Allerton partiers were feasting on ribeye, a $62 bottle of wine and a bucket of beer.
Lukin says she wonders why the hotel wasn't suspicious. "Wouldn't you think something was going on if someone was in the room and put a 'do not disturb' sign on the door for 5 days?"
For its part, the Allerton says that's not odd at all. Managers acknowledge they never asked to see the couples proof, but did investigate and found nothing suspicious internally. Out of 'good faith' - and after our inquiry - the hotel wiped out the $1,572 charge.