When hotel owners are afraid to take credit cards, the banks won’t pay

The US bank JPMorgan Chase is facing calls to shut down two of its largest international hotel chains as they lose millions in profits to cyber attacks.

The US financial watchdog said on Wednesday that it has taken legal action against Marriott and Hilton, alleging they are engaging in conduct that amounts to fraudulent activities. 

“The conduct that JPMorgan Chase has identified is fraudulent, and therefore the bank has taken action to recover the funds it claims it owes Marriott and/or Hilton,” the regulator said in a statement. 

JPMorgan Chase has not responded to Al Jazeera’s request for comment.

The hotel chain, which has about 1,000 locations around the world, has been hit hard by attacks from hackers known as the Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. 

According to the regulator, they have been able to “damage Marriott and the Hilton brand by disrupting their customers’ travel plans, by disrupting hotel business, and by disrupting the operations of hotel brands in other countries”. 

In a blogpost, Marriott CEO Doug Soper called the attack a “wake-up call” for the global hotel industry. 

Hilton has not yet responded to the claim.

“This action is part of a comprehensive effort to stop these attacks from disrupting our business, customers, and the way our customers enjoy their business,” Soper said.

The banks said they will seek to recover their losses, with the total amount at more than $1.2bn. 

In its notice to the banks, the regulator wrote: “In order to recover those funds, JPMorgan Chase may ask the banks to provide a detailed accounting of the damage, including any impact on the value of the hotel chains’ businesses, and/ or the total value of their business”.JPMU said it would “immediately cease” its relationship with Marriott and would seek to obtain the hotel chain’s assets.

Hilton, which had $1bn in revenues last year, said it was “actively cooperating” with the investigation.

“We are fully cooperating with the regulators and will be making available any information we can to support our investigation,” a statement said. 

On Tuesday, a senior executive at Hilton told the New York Times that the attack on its business was “the most devastating” to the hotel industry in a decade. 

He added that the chain had already had to close all of its hotel properties in Europe and that the attacks were “worrying”. 

“We have been through two wars.

The first one we went through in 2011 was a cyber war.

We’ve seen a lot of things that could happen in the future,” the executive said.

“We don’t know how long this will last.”