Sat, May 05, 2012 - Page 2 News List

Man indicted for fraud for planting cockroach in food

THREE TIMES:Taipei prosecutors said Chen Chi-chung tripped when he tried the trick with two hotels belonging to the same group

By Hou Po-ching and Tseng Hung-ju  /  Staff reporters

A man was indicted on fraud and attempted fraud charges on Thursday in Taipei for allegedly planting a dead cockroach in his food and demanding compensation from hotels.

According to a report by the Taipei District Prosecutors Office, the man, Chen Chi-chung (陳啟忠), visited the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Taipei on Aug. 19 last year, placed a dead cockroach in his pasta and demanded NT$16,000 in compensation for psychological trauma. The hotel agreed to the demand to put the matter to rest.

After discovering that the method worked, the report said, Chen went to Le Meridien Hotel on the same night, repeated the same tactic at the hotel’s Latitude 25 Bar and asked for the same amount in compensation.

However, the bar’s management said it had to report the incident to its superiors before it could agree to Chen’s demands, the report said.

Chen made the same attempt again at a bar in the Sheraton Hotel on Aug. 30 last year, the report added.

Chen apparently did not know that both Le Meridien and the Sheraton belong to Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc. After both hotels reported the incident to Starwood, management became suspicious because both cases were similar in technique and carried out within a relatively short timeframe, the report said.

After checking around and hearing that the Grand Hyatt Hotel had a similar incident, Starwood’s management decided to call the police. Prosecutors summoned Chen to give his version of the incident, but Chen did not answer the summons. Prosecutors then decided to indict Chen on fraud and attempted fraud charges based on the testimony given by restaurant staff, hotel surveillance footage and a remade photo of the dish with the dead cockroach in it.

According to a hotelier, security departments in the hotelier business maintain a system of keeping each other informed and up to date on customers that are hard to deal with. These include customers who exhibit odd behavior in hotels, such as dining and then leaving before paying their bills, destroying room facilities, stealing things at a banquet or harassing other guests at the hotel. Hotels provide photos or surveillance footage of such customers to facilitate identification.

Translated by Jake Chung, Staff writer

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