A prolific scammer known as the Hollywood Con Queen won’t find out until December whether he will be extradited to the U.S., where he’s wanted by the FBI.
Hargobind Tahilramani, who is accused of orchestrating a five-year, multi-jurisdictional con in which he impersonated dozens, if not hundreds, of high-profile female executives in the entertainment industry, will face a three-day trial in London this winter, starting Nov. 29. If he loses, he will be extradited to the U.S. to face charges of aggravated identity theft, wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud
Tahilramani became something of a media sensation when it emerged he had been impersonating women such as former Sony chief Amy Pascal, Marvel Studios executive VP Victoria Alonso and Lucasfilm’s Kathleen Kennedy in order to defraud unsuspecting film industry workers who believed they were getting their big break.
Actors, make-up artists, stuntmen and even military personnel were lured to Jakarta, Indonesia, in order to work on a fictitious film. They would often extend their research trips in order to meet with the film’s producers but the meeting would never take place.
On arrival and each time the trip was extended, they would be asked to pay around $1,000 in cash to their chauffeur, supposedly for expenses, which they were told would later be refunded along with their flights. After returning home, however, no refunds were forthcoming. Emails and phone calls to the executive they believed they were speaking to went unreturned. Some victims were lured out to Jakarta multiple times.
Many of the high-powered women who were impersonated, such as former Paramount chief Sherry Lansing, only realized their public identities were being abused by a scammer after they began receiving calls and email from victims demanding their expenses be repaid. Others, such as Alonso, found out through colleagues. (Alonso discovered she had been impersonated when Josh Brolin, with whom she was working on “Avengers: Endgame,” told her a stuntman he knew had been propositioned by someone claiming to be her).
Last November, the team behind a true crime podcast called “Chameleon,” which investigated the scam, revealed Tahilramani, a moderately known Indonesian food blogger based in Manchester, to be the main suspect. He was arrested in the U.K. shortly afterwards.
At a hearing in London in December 2020, Tahilramani was said to be a flight risk and denied bail. He remains in custody.