'Con Queen of Hollywood' accused of duping actors with fake film scams is arrested in UK
A suspected con artist who allegedly impersonated top female Hollywood executives and tricked aspiring stars out of hundreds of thousands of dollars has been arrested in Manchester after a US extradition request.
Dubbed the “Con Queen of Hollywood”, the suspect was identified in court papers on Thursday as Hargobind Tahilramani, a 41-year-old Indonesian man.
The Department of Justice and FBI unsealed the seven-page grand jury indictment, according to entertainment news website The Hollywood Reporter, outlining eight federal charges including wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.
It is alleged Tahilramani swindled scores of victims by luring them to Indonesia on the promise of work.
Once there, they were duped into handing over cash for up-front costs and expenses – but the projects never materialised and the money was never reimbursed.
It is also alleged Tahilramani – also known as Gobind Lal Tahil – threatened violence if people questioned his assumed identity.
He would threaten to “dismember” them or send pictures to them of their children, the indictment alleges.
The series of impersonation scams started in 2015 and continued for five years, even during the coronavirus pandemic. He had also set up shop in the UK by 2016, before he was unmasked last month.
“The defendant has been arrested in the United Kingdom based on a request for his provisional arrest submitted by the United States with a view towards his extradition,” an FBI spokesman in San Diego, California, told AFP.
Among the Hollywood moguls Tahilramani allegedly impersonated were Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy, former Sony movie chief Amy Pascal, and ex-Paramount boss Sherry Lansing.
He also claimed to be Wendi Murdoch, the ex-wife of News Corp executive chairman Rupert Murdoch, Christine Hearst Schwarzman, the intellectual property lawyer and wife of billionaire Blackstone Group CEO Stephen Schwarzman, and prominent Singapore business magnate and so-called “Boss of Bond Street” Christina Ong.
He would “use fake accents and alter his voice to sound like a woman” – the documents state.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Tahilramani was arrested by Manchester police last week with the assistance of private investigators.
In a statement to AFP, co-founder Jules Kroll said K2 had helped US, British and Indonesian authorities in “bringing the individual known as the ‘Con Queen of Hollywood’ to justice”.