Dine-and-dash hotel guest racked up a £452 being investigated by fraud officers

A suspected conman who ran up a £452 hotel bill which included three meals and 26 pints before doing a runner is being investigated by anti-fraud experts. The ‘businessman-like’ grifter spent three nights eating and drinking at The Angel Hotel before slipping away without settling his huge tab. He used a debit card to secure a room at the 500-year-old family-run guest house, in Halesworth, Suffolk, and even left staff chocolates to thank them for their hard work. During his stay, he went on to consume 15 pints of Birra Moretti, eight pints of Guinness, seven rum and cokes, three pints of Aspall, five bags of Mini Cheddars and three meals and other sides. But staff grew suspicious when he snuck out early on his final day nearly two weeks ago and sent the independent business an email saying he planned to return later to pay. Manager William Tennant said the man seemed to give them his real name, but despite trying to charge his debit card multiple times, it was never successful. And when he went online to search for him, he was shocked to find that the man was suspected of pulling similar tricks at other venues. He said: “It’s disappointing. More than anything, we look after people well here all the time, you’ll find plenty of witnesses of that. “It’s obviously some sadistic game he likes to play or an addiction he’s got if he’s been doing it for so long. So that’s sad really, to be honest. He’s obviously a sad man. "He even bought chocolates for us to thank us for our hospitality. “It’s not a small amount of money, and turn over wise, you have to earn a significant amount more to get that back, profit-wise.” William said the man in his early 50s, who spoke with a Suffolk accent and had thinning dark-coloured hair, had arrived by train on November 20. He'd initially booked to stay just one night at the three-star hotel, which cost £70. But at breakfast the next day, he'd asked to stay a further night before repeating the request the following morning, meaning the bill for his board alone came to £210. William said the friendly patron had been "very complimentary" to staff during his three night stay and had spent his evenings sinking pints at the bar. But he now believes this was simply a way of ensuring his "brazen" scheme went unnoticed - as he racked up a further £242 on food and drink. He said: “He was just businessman-like. He was a middle-aged bloke. He was chatty and friendly. "He was polite and very complimentary to our staff, saying how amazing he had been treated, how lovely everything was, how content he is. “He originally just booked in for one night. I suppose that was him scouting out how many extras he could put onto his room without paying for them. "He sat with his back to the camera in the bar, which looking back must have been an intentional thing. “There’s CCTV footage of him everywhere. I thought he was too brazen to be a con man. People tend to be a bit smarter if you actually try not to be caught.” “He started on Aspel, then he had Moretti and Guinness. It worked out about eight pints a night." William said staff became concerned when the man slipped out during the morning on November 23 before promising to return and pay in an email. And when they decided to search for his name online, they found he was suspected by other businesses of pulling the same trick. William said: “It’s not impossible to leave without anyone seeing you. It’s a small hotel so he didn’t show up for breakfast. “He emailed to say ‘Sorry I had to leave in a rush, I’ll be back in time to check out and settle my bill, can I stay another night?’ or something. “We then thought this is a bit weird now. And then we Googled him and we saw him – and realised this is the guy. We never heard from him again.” The hotel said they have since reported the matter to Action Fraud, the national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime. Pauline Smith, from the police team, said: “Action Fraud can confirm it is currently being assessed by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) at the City of London Police.”