Mumbai: 5-star hotel guest held for not paying Rs 2 lakh bill

When hotel staff persisted with phone calls for payment, he transferred Rs 100 into their account; he even paid over Rs 2 lakh by cheque, but it bounced

In a case that seems to have shades of the Audrey Tautou film ‘Priceless’, the BKC police recently arrested a man for cheating. But unlike the gold-digger Irene who targeted rich men, this 42-year-old cheated a five-star hotel by staying there for two weeks posing as the vice-president of a corporate firm. He was arrested after almost a year on the run — during which he once transferred Rs 100 into the hotel’s account, and paid over Rs 2 lakh by a cheque that bounced — from his residence in Pune’s Kothrud, and police suspect that he may have cheated hotels in other cities.

Modak claimed that he had come to Mumbai for a job interview, and stayed in the hotel thinking that once he was selected, his company would make the payment
Modak claimed that he had come to Mumbai for a job interview, and stayed in the hotel thinking that once he was selected, his company would make the payment

Prashant Modak, who has an MBA in Marketing, was arrested on Wednesday after a complaint registered by the front manager of Hotel Trident, BKC, recently. The incident had taken place in May last year. A case of cheating under Section 420 of the IPC was registered recently against Modak.

The complainant said that they received a call in May last year from Sachin Joshi, a senior executive of Uninor Limited, who claimed that ‘the vice-president of Jio Infocom service limited, a group company of Uninor’, would stay there for some days. The police are enquiring with Joshi in the matter.

Since Modak was a corporate client, the hotel did not collect advance deposit from him, and let him check in on May 11, 2015. Modak, who gave his visiting card that had the address of his company’s Belapur office, stayed in the hotel for 14 days.

On May 24, the housekeeping manager found that the room in which Modak stayed along with his wife Sampada, had not been used the previous night. The hotel staff called Modak and he said he had to leave due to some medical emergency and would pay the bill soon.

Transfer of Rs 100
The hotel employees followed up on the matter with Modak for months to collect the payment from him, but in vain. At one time he claimed that he was in Hong Kong, and would make the payment on returning. Once, he even took bank account details of the hotel, but transferred only R100 in the account, a police source said.

When he started avoiding the hotel’s calls, the employees contacted him through WhatsApp, following which he sent a cheque of Rs 2.17 lakh through Joshi, but it bounced, a police official said.

Police speak
The hotel authorities decided to lodge a police complaint against him. “His company’s address turned out to be fake. His address registered with the bank, where he has an account is also imprecise, vague and incomplete,” said Assistant Inspector Vijay Kadam of BKC police station. He added that Modak was always on the move. Police finally arrested him from his Kothrud house in Pune.

DCP (Zone VIII) Virendra Mishra said, “We are investigating the possibility of his involvement in similar cases in other cities.”

During interrogation, Modak claimed he had come to Mumbai for a job interview, and stayed in the hotel thinking that once he was selected, his company would make the payment. “We are not buying his claims and are probing the matter thoroughly. We are also checking if his wife was involved in the cheating,” API Kadam said.

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