The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Man with five-star mission
- 173 hotels robbed, revenge-hungry Wilson targets 27 more

Mumbai, Dec. 6: The name: John Wilson, err, Andrew Nirmal, alias John Vincent Gyanprakash, alias Puban Raman, alias Ashok Royan.

The mission: To rob 200 five-star hotels.

The scorecard: 173 and counting.

It is difficult to comprehend Wilson’s manic mission to rob five-star hotels across the country. He says he does it more out of spite than profit or even greed.

Perhaps that’s why when he get caught — and that happens more than occasionally — he pleads guilty, serves his sentence and starts right where he was interrupted.

Caught for the umpteenth time, on this instance by Santa Cruz police, Wilson has been remanded in police custody till December 9. But there is neither remorse nor fear; only determination.

“I was cheated of Rs 2,000 by a five-star hotel in Delhi where I used to work as a tour operator,’’ he says, explaining the reason behind his strange obsession.

“They not only held up my payments but insulted me by saying that I was not cut out to deal with five-star hotels,’’ he added.

In 1989, when the incident happened, Wilson used to bring foreign tourists to five-star hotels for a commission.

Wilson, who has been in jails across the country, from Tihar to Trichur, Haryana, New Delhi, Calcutta, Mumbai and Hyderabad, says he doesn’t mind spending time in some more jails as long as he can get out and get on with his job.

“I will cheat 200 of them before I settle down to lead a normal life with a normal job,” Wilson, 45, says.

Wilson, who has cheated the Taj Coromandel, Chennai, Taj Mahal Hotel, Mumbai, Oberoi Towers, Mumbai, Leela Kempinski, Mumbai, JW Marriot, Mumbai, and the Hyatt International, Mumbai, among other hotels, had devised a wily way to swindle the hotels.

He would check into these hotels with two large but empty suitcases, posing as a tourist. His grasp over English, Malyalam, Sinhalese, Hindi and Kannada stood him in good stead. Wilson would immediately requisition a laptop and a fax machine from the hotel authorities, saying he would pay later.

Keeping the empty suitcases behind, Wilson would quietly slip away with goods worth Rs 2 to 2.5 lakh.

His latest success was at the JW Mariott, Mumbai, last month when he decamped with a laptop and a fax machine without paying the hotel expenses for two days.

But though he fleeced the Mariott, they saw to it that Wilson’s game was exposed. Mariott immediately alerted Santa Cruz police, which in turn alerted all the five-star hotels in the city.

The police learnt that Wilson tried getting into the Taj Regent, but did not succeed as he could not back up his demand for a room with convincing information about himself. The serial swindler then managed to get himself a room in the Hyatt. Unfortunately, he had walked straight into a trap.

Led by deputy commissioner of police Bipin Kumar Singh, the police caught Wilson, who had now shaved his hair and beard to evade identification.

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