Tamil Nadu

Want to sell a 3-star hotel? Don’t meet up in the lobby

Conmen caught while negotiating sale of a well-known Chennai hotel

Chutzpah is defined as “extreme self-confidence or audacity”. And the attempt by three conmen to sell a well-known hotel in Chennai to gullible buyers, brazenly holding negotiations in the very hotel’s lobby, has set new benchmark in gumption.

The trio, identified as Karunakaran, 70, Paramanandham, 55, and Dakshinamurthy, 60, all from the city, were arrested on Monday as they tried to sell the well-known three-star Hotel Ambica Empire to a group from Kerala.

Three persons were impersonating the owners of the hotel and attempted to sell it to the prospective buyers at a cost of ₹165 crore. They had sent a letter to Palakkal Home Solutions in Thiruvananthapuram, offering to sell the property. They claimed it was a distress sale as the owner had a huge debt and was selling the hotel to pay off his debts. They claimed they had been officially authorised by the owner to execute the deal. One of the men claimed he was the general manager of the hotel, the other, auditor and the third introduced himself as a manager.

Lured by this, and convinced by the letter, their fake documentation and the assurances of the three persons, a team of representatives from the Kerala firm landed up in Chennai to finish negotiations and seal the deal. Two of the representatives from Kerala, booked rooms in the same hotel, as per the instructions of the ‘sellers’.

On Monday, hotel staff noticed five persons seated on a couch in the lobby engaged in negotiating what seemed a tough business deal. As the meeting went on, staff overheard stray phrases which set alarm bells ringing about the possible sale of the hotel.

As they reported this to the manager, he immediately informed the owner Sudharshan, who incidentally, was staying in the hotel at the time. The latter clarified that there was no such proposal. The manager then informed the Vadapalani police station leading to the arrest of the three ‘sellers’.

The fraudsters had demanded that the Kerala group pay 10% of the price as advance payment, police said. Several documents were seized from the men after the arrest.

Initial investigations revealed that the three were real estate brokers operating in the city. Deputy Commissioner of Police, T. Nagar, Ashok Kumar said, “We are investigating whether they were involved in any other similar offences.”

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Printable version | Apr 1, 2020 2:07:24 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/want-to-sell-a-3-star-hotel-dont-meet-up-in-the-lobby/article30728906.ece

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