India: Conman poses as Arab royal family staff, flees 5-star hotel without paying Dh100,000 bill

He stayed at the hotel for four months and suddenly left, taking with him silver bottle holders and a mother-of-pearl tray



Leela Palace-New Delhi photo
Leela Palace-New Delhi photo

By PTI

Published: Thu 19 Jan 2023, 6:48 PM

The police in India are now on the lookout for a man who stayed at a five-star hotel in Delhi for four months by posing as senior staff of the Arab royal family. He fled without paying his bills, which were worth more than Rs2.3 million (around Dh100,000), officials said on Tuesday.

The accused, Mahamed Shareef, had checked into the Leela Palace-New Delhi on August 1 last year. He was staying in room number 427 and fled from the hotel on November 20, they said.

Besides cheating the hotel of Rs2.3 million in outstanding bills, he also decamped with valuables, including silver bottle holders and a mother-of-pearl tray, police said.

Shareef checked into the hotel saying he was a staff at a government office in GCC. He gave them a fake business card, according to the police.

“It seems the guest purposely gave these cards to create a false image and garner extra trust with an intent to cheat and deceive the hotel at a later stage,” the hotel management said in its complaint.

“The guest had also made a few part settlements in the month of August and September 2022 worth Rs1 million for room charges, the total outstanding still stands at Rs2,348,413 against which he had issued a post-dated cheque worth Rs2 million due for November 21, 2022, which was duly submitted to our bank on September 22, 2022, but due to insufficient funds, the cheque bounced,” it said.

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On November 20 last year, around 1pm, the man fled from the hotel with valuables, a senior police official said.

The complainant said: “This seems to be completely pre-planned since we were under the impression that by November 22, 2022, the hotel will get the dues cleared through the cheque he had submitted.”

This clearly signifies that “Mr. Shareef had malafide intentions and a clear intent to deceive hotel authorities. This is a clear case of theft, cheating and fraud against The Leela Palace, New Delhi,” the complaint stated.

Footage from CCTV cameras, installed inside and outside the hotel’s premises, is being checked to ascertain Shareef’s activities, the official said.

“Multiple teams have been formed to trace the accused man. We have not been able to establish his occupation yet and are working to gather his personal details. We have put his phone number on surveillance to get his last location,” he said.

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