Police in India search for man who left $28,000 bill unpaid at luxury Delhi hotel

Leela Palace says he stayed for four months, racked up a bill of 3.5 million rupees and gave his name as Mohammed Sharif

The Leela Palace, New Delhi. Photo: The Leela
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A man who fled a luxury Delhi hotel after amassing more than 2.3 million rupees ($28,000) in unpaid bills during a four-month stay is wanted by police.

The scammer, who gave his name as Mohammed Sharif, is also said to have stolen silverware and pearls from the Leela Palace hotel.

The man claimed to be a UAE resident and said he worked for a prominent family in the Emirates, the hotel said.

He produced a business card, a UAE resident card and other documents and routinely chatted to hotel staff about his apparent life in the Emirates, the hotel said in its complaint.

However, Indian police said they don't believe he had any connection to the UAE and suspect the man was using fake documents.

“We don’t think his ID cards are genuine. We are checking if he has done this before,” the police said.

Authorities want to question the man for fraud, theft and impersonation.

The man stayed at the hotel until November, racking up a bill of more than 3.5 million rupees ($43,000), the hotel said. He paid 1.1 million rupees of the bill, but left without paying the rest, it added.

He wrote a cheque for a further two million rupees, dated November 20, before vanishing, but it bounced two days later due to insufficient funds, police said.

A police investigation was launched on Saturday.

“One of our in-house guests has run off from the hotel … with valuables and also without settling his outstanding bills,” the hotel's complaint said. It said he cheated the hotel out of more than 2.3 million rupees, including the cost of the stolen items.

“This seems to be completely pre-planned since we were under the impression that by November 20, the hotel will get dues cleared through the cheque he had submitted,” the complaint read. This showed his intent to deceive the hotel management, it added.

Updated: January 17, 2023, 1:14 PM