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Police in Spain detain suspect in major eat-and-run restaurant scam

A gang of over 100 people allegedly rang up massive debts at restaurants in northwestern Spain before running away without paying. The guests ate, drank, and even set off fireworks before leaving "in a stampede."

Police in Spain have brought in a suspect for questioning over a string of substantial dine-and-dash swindles, local media reported Tuesday. The man is allegedly the ringleader of a group that accrued bills sometimes stretching to thousands of euros - and then vanished suddenly without paying.

The group targeted at least two restaurants in northwestern Spain, but police believe numerous other incidents may be related.

"We had just served the cake and they left just like that, without insults, without being rude to us. They got in their cars and sped out," restaurateur Antonio Rodriquez told the Associated Press. His Carmen Hotel in the town of Bembibre had been booked for what was supposedly a christening, and the guests had ordered 2,200 euros ($2,300) worth of appetizers, main courses, dessert and alcohol for 120 guests.

He had been paid a deposit of 900 euros, but said it was little consolation when the guests left "in a stampede" before cake was served.

"What's really worse is that it feels like they are pouring cold water onto you, seeing them leaving and knowing that there's nothing that you can do because these were huge men with muscles," Antonio Rodriquez added.

Wedding guests vanish en masse

In the nearby town of Ponferrada a few days later, servers at a wedding banquet costing some 7,000 euros ($7,405) at the El Rincon de Pepin resaturant were astonished to suffer the same outcome.

According to Spanish news outlet Diario de Leon, the man detained by authorities is the one who likely made the bookings, posing first as a godfather booking a baptism party and then as the father of the groom.

A spokesman for the Civil Guard, who made the arrest, said the suspect was thought to be a Romanian national. They also said that a second suspect may have already fled the country.

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