An Auckland hotel is out of pocket after an apparently well-heeled, long-term guest left behind a debt of $18,000.
The guest was Tracey Anne Gordon who was sentenced to jail a decade ago for fraud and has a string of ill-fated ventures behind her, including one her own lawyer described in court as "fairyland stuff".
Gordon left The Surrey Hotel in February telling staff she was going to San Francisco on business.
She stayed on and off at the hotel in Grey Lynn for more than two years and regularly paid her bills using her father's credit card.
But her father, marine explorer Keith Gordon, told the hotel they should have asked him before the credit card was used the last time, and he cancelled the payment, hotel manager Denise King told the Herald.
Tracey Gordon had grand plans, said King. She told staff that she was trading in aviation fuel and she offered a staff member a job as her personal chef on a yacht she planned to buy.
"She was going to buy an apartment at the Stamford [Hotel], another in Sydney. The apartments were worth millions and she would have the brochures to back her up." King said she never saw evidence of the purchases or big business deals being concluded.
Gordon, 49, was sentenced to jail a decade ago after admitting eight charges of fraud.
A Herald report about the case described her as petite, smartly-dressed, a forger and a thief with a penchant for Hilton hotels.
King said she wrongly assumed Gordon's father would pay his daughter's last bill because he always had previously.
"This time, he said, 'you should have called me,'" said King. "It's almost like he'd had enough of her."
The police have told King it is a civil matter. "It's a very bitter pill to try to have to swallow."
"We feel we have been 100 per cent ripped off. Her father is not part of it in any way but he could have warned us that he was no longer going to pay her bills."
Keith Gordon did not return the Herald's call.
The Herald has seen an email trail in which Tracey Gordon acknowledged the hotel debt and claimed payment had been delayed by a stroke she had suffered. In a later email she said it was further delayed by a typhoon that had interrupted her travel.
King had heard nothing from Gordon since August 5 until the Herald contacted Gordon this week.
Gordon told the Herald in an email Thursday that the bill would be paid "in full in the next two days". She claimed the delay in paying the six-month-old bill was due to verification of some charges, "which is why my dad had to contact Amex to withhold the payment".
King said the content of the bill had not previously been questioned. Regarding the latest promise of payment, King said, "I'll believe it when I see it."
Keith Gordon is the author of Deep Water Gold, a book about the RMS Niagara which was sunk carrying 590 gold bars near the Hen and Chicken Islands, north of Auckland, by German mines in 1940. All but five were salvaged in 1941 and 1952.
Gordon's company SeaRov Technologies owns deep dive vehicles. He reportedly holds salvage rights to the wreck but the UK Treasury owns the gold.
Tracey Gordon was convicted in January 2006 on eight charges of fraud, including using and altering documents and obtaining $128,000 by deception from 2001 to 2004.
An Auckland District Court official confirmed her sentence included a reparation order and jail.
Her lawyer told the court in 2005 that Gordon had "difficult personal characteristics", was gullible rather than devious and her frauds were unsophisticated.
Those left out of pocket back then painted a picture of a fabulist. "I don't think your average human being could think up the stories and the tales and make them sound as plausible as she does," one said.
Her frauds stretched across three continents. Those stung included family, former friends and men met in bars. She claimed to be an investment banker, to have an in on high-yield low-risk deals and she liked to stay at five star hotels at the expense of others.
"She'd say she needed some cash to pay her hotel and that she was waiting for some funds to transfer, or her father's credit card, or she couldn't get hold of her father, so I would give her some money," American Chris Oliver said at the time. He claimed to have lost $117,000 but charges against her that involved him were dropped after Gordon revealed in court they had been in a relationship.
Ten years later, she had some interesting yarns to tell those who cared to listen at The Surrey Hotel.
And then Gordon was gone. And this time Dad's credit card didn't come to the party.