NEW DELHI — For nearly two years, Ankush Dutta enjoyed the luxury of staying in a five-star hotel near the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi without paying a single rupee.
He booked a room for one night on May 30, 2019, and extended his stay for 603 nights until Jan. 22, 2021, leaving behind unpaid bills of over $70,000, according to a police complaint filed by the hotel management.
The hotel, Roseate House, is a boutique property owned by India’s Bird Hospitality and features several restaurants and a spa. Mr. Dutta, a resident of Guwahati in Assam, used various hotel services during his stay and changed rooms three times.
How did he manage to pull off such a scam? The police suspect that he colluded with several staff members of the hotel who helped him by falsifying and manipulating the accounts on the hotel’s software system.
“Accounts were falsified to conceal the actual outstanding dues,” the police complaint read, quoted by The Indian Express newspaper.
The main suspect among the staff is Prem Prakash, the front desk manager, who was responsible for maintaining Mr. Dutta’s account and extending his stay.
“We believe Prakash forged the records. He even removed Dutta’s names from daily reports where his hotel bills were stated,” a senior police official told The Indian Express.
The complaint also alleged that Mr. Prakash and other staff members created fake and false pending bills to benefit Mr. Dutta by removing room nights from his bills, transferring his debits into the bills of other guests and using settled bills of other guests by incorporating his name in the bill.
The hotel management filed a complaint against Mr. Dutta and the staff on May 24, 2021, under sections of criminal breach of trust, cheating, forgery and criminal conspiracy. No arrests have been made yet and the investigation is underway.
The case has drawn comparisons to the 1977 Eagles song Hotel California, which has the lines: “You can check out anytime you like/But you can never leave.”
But in this case, Mr. Dutta did leave — without paying his dues.
– Guest spends 603 nights at five-star Indian hotel ‘without paying’, The Guardian, Thu 22 Jun 2023
– 603 Days At Delhi Hotel, Total Bill Rs 58 Lakh, Amt Paid Rs 0: How Did He Do It?, The Quint, Wed 22 Jun 2023
– Man allegedly stayed at 5-star Indian hotel for 603 days without paying, New York Post, Thu 23 Jun 2023
– Man allegedly stayed at 5-star Indian hotel for nearly 2 years without paying, VNExplorer, Thu 23 Jun 2023