Any time you splurge on a ludicrously expensive evening at a really fancy restaurant, it’s tempting to hide somewhere and wait for the bill to disappear.
Unfortunately for thrifty foodies, cheques have an annoying habit of refusing to go away. However uncomfortable it may be, the vast majority of diners accept that, at some point, they’re going to have to cough up for whatever they’ve spent their evening enjoying. But, as Washington DC has recently discovered, Nick Cooper is not most diners.
The 21-year-old Brit has quickly built a notorious reputation among the high society of America’s capital after it was discovered that he has spent the last few weeks skipping from eatery to eatery, refusing to pay for anything. His extravagant escapades have included high end meals, five-star hotels and fancy bars, all visited without dropping a dime. According to the Washington Post, the damages from his dodgy dining habits total nearly $3,000.
Cooper first attracted the attention of local law enforcement when he was arrested for standing in the middle of the road outside The White House. He was suspected of drunk and disorderly conduct, though was released without charge soon after. If his latest antics are anything to go by, this brush with the law proved to be some sort of catalyst for the young tourist.
Soon after his release, Cooper had written fraudulent cheques at the Ebbitt Grill, paid for a $70 bar tab with a closed credit card and ordered $500 worth of wine and food at the Hay-Adams hotel, before leaving a fake room number and once more eluding capture. Clearly, unusually accommodating White House security may have made a mistake in letting him get away so easily.
Growing in confidence, Cooper soon took his law breaking to new levels. Entering the Ritz-Carlton on March 23rd, he sat himself in the centre of the hotel’s legendary dining room, before ordering a meal fit for a king. Grilled octopus tentacle was followed by rack of lamb, all washed down with a $156 bottle of red wine. Cooper then demanded a glass of 37-year-old, $1,200 Irish Teeling whiskey, which he swigged happily for several minutes. He then charged the whole lot to the room of Denver Nuggets basketball player Trey Lyles.
Unfortunately for the wouldbe grifter, this meal looked like it would be his last. After leaving his table, Cooper emerged into the hotel lobby, only to spy a group of police officers waiting for him. The officers demanded that he remove his hands from his pockets, which he refused to do. He was promptly tackled to the ground and arrested. However, having clearly learned nothing from their White House colleagues, Cooper was released almost immediately on bail - pending trial on April 12.
During the course of his misadventures, it seems as though Cooper was not content just to con his way out of meal receipts. According to witnesses, the Briton also spent time attempting to seduce restaurant and bar patrons, pretending to be a wealthy aristocrat with property in Kensington, South London. Cooper is in fact from Doncaster - a small town in Yorkshire.
Having made the front page of both the Washington Post and The Sunday Times, it seems Cooper will be unable to get away with any further acts of larceny. His picture has been circulated around bars and restaurants around the city and staff are on high alert. Nonetheless, the fact that he got away with it for so long is testament to just how much you can get away with if people aren’t paying attention.