A prolific con man accused of impersonating Hollywood executives is said to have defrauded more than 300 victims out of a total of $1 million.
Hargobind Tahilramani, 42, is said to be “deceives the queen of hollywood“To commit fraud by offering people work that did not exist in the film industry and tricking them into paying thousands of expenses.
He is accused of impersonating executives such as Amy Pascal, film producer Megan Ellison, her mother Barbara Booth, producers who worked on The Dark Knight trilogy and Inception director Christopher Nolan in a fraud that lasted seven years from 2013 to August 2020, Westminster was told the Magistrates’ Court.
Tahilramani has been impersonating Hollywood characters in phone calls, emails and text messages to lure his victims on a pocket-paid trip to Indonesia.
Actors, screenwriters, and photographers were traveling to Jakarta for non-existent projects and were charged with expenses that were never reimbursed.
The fraudster also offered sexual favors to one victim when he impersonated billionaire Jean Pritzker.
The 42-year-old was arrested in November 2020 after an FBI investigation led to a £60-a-night hotel in Manchester.
Tahilramani, who has been based in the UK since 2016, claimed he was a “Netflix writer”.
He now opposes extradition to the United States, where he will face eight counts – conspiracy to commit internet fraud, two counts of telephone fraud with a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and five counts of aggravated identity theft with the maximum sentence. Two years each.
“The defendant will pretend to be well-known executives in the entertainment industry or their representatives and promise the victims that there is no business in the film industry in Indonesia,” Joel Smith, the US representative for the court, said.
“Victims residing in the United States were persuaded to travel to Indonesia at their own expense and, once persuaded, to pay a set of fees or expenses, again out of their own pocket.”
Victims were asked to pay for photography or permits and fees to their drivers and tour operators, who were all conspirators.
Mr Smith added: “The money spent by the victim was received by the defendant himself and never repaid.
“In essence, this is old-fashioned prepaid fee fraud.”
Screenwriter Greg Mandarano is believed to have been scammed out of $80,000. Casey Gray, who worked in the security industry, was suggested by Tahilramani.
“The defendant, while pretending to be Mrs. Pritzker, offered sexual favors to Mr. Gray, and attempted to persuade him to send recordings of himself,” Smith said.
Freelance photographer Will Strathman allegedly paid nearly £40,000 on three trips between October and November 2017 after Tahiliramani tricked him with emails pretending to be Ms Pascal.
The court heard that the fraudster, posing as producer Thomas Heislip, asked Dan Considine to send in test tapes and paid nearly $7,000 for martial arts training videos in hopes of getting a role in the Nolan movie.
“There are a large number of victims who are not currently under US indictment, including some who are residents of the UK, but who are not currently under any US prosecution,” Mr Smith said.
Tahillramani has been dubbed the “Queen of Hollywood” by private investigation firm K2 Integrity, which worked with law enforcement agencies during the FBI investigation.
The hearing is continuing.