Woman sues Hilton for $100M over employee blackmail attempt

Photo credit: Getty Images/BCFC

A Chicago woman is suing Hilton for $100 million after claiming an employee at a Hampton Inn & Suites in Albany, N.Y., filmed her as she showered, then uploaded the video to the internet in an attempt to blackmail her.

The woman, who is unidentified in the suit, said the incident took place in July 2015, but her claim states she was only made aware of the footage after it was posted to a pornographic website this past September. She claims she was alerted to the video after the hotel employee emailed her a direct link to the video. As a result, she is suing the hotel company, as well as hotel owner Banyan Investment Group and operator Albany Downtown Hotel Partners. Neither Banyan Investment Group nor Albany Downtown Hotel Partners has returned requests for comment at this time.

The message included personal information, such as her full name and the university where she worked. It was followed by a second message threatening to spread the video if she did not first provide additional videos, then demands that she pay a total of $12,000 for the employee’s continued silence.

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After she refused to pay, the woman alleges the blackmailer responded by emailing the video to her coworkers and posting it on multiple pornographic sites.

“It was just absolutely traumatizing because these are people I went to law school with,” the unidentified woman said on Good Morning America. “They're friends, they're coworkers. And they were sent a link to what looks like an email I sent.”

The woman is subsequently suing for negligence and emotional distress, saying the hotel is responsible because her blackmailer was able to retrieve her personal information. Furthermore, she alleges she has to continually monitor porn sites for the blackmailer’s video, and has been forced to petition for its removal on multiple occasions. 

Because the video was posted using her full name, the woman states her identity has been compromised. Her attorney, Roland Christiansen, said in a statement that there is footage from another guest in the same room at a different time, raising the question of how many times this employee has filmed guests.

“We have evidence, we haven't seen all of the other videos, but we have reason to believe there is a significant amount of others and that this room that my client stayed in was used repeatedly to film people over an extended period,” Christiansen said.

A spokesperson for the Hampton Inn & Suites Albany-Downtown said the hotel is working with authorities as they investigate the matter.

"The safety and security of our guests is our highest priority," the spokesperson said in a statement. "We will continue to work with the authorities to discover the perpetrator and see that s/he is held accountable."

Hilton also responded in a statement to ABC News, which aired a segment on the incident:

“On Monday, December 3rd we were alerted by ABC News to details of an alleged incident at the Hampton Inn & Suites Albany-Downtown in 2015," the statement said. "We take the safety and well-being of our guests incredibly seriously, and find the details included in the civil filing distressing. We commit to supporting the independent ownership and management of the property as they investigate, respond and cooperate with any law enforcement investigations.”