Hargobind Tahilramani is accused of defrauding more than 1 million (£800,000) from more than 300 victims, including actors, screenwriters and photographers.
Written by Jada-Kai Miosa John, News Reporter
Tue 6 Jun 2023 19:25, UK
A British judge has ruled that a man labeled “Hollywood’s con queen” can be extradited to the US for impersonating movie bosses in a seven-year fraud scheme.
Hargovind Tahilramani, In 2020, he claimed to be a Netflix writer at a Manchester hotel and allegedly conned more than 300 victims, including actors, screenwriters and photographers, out of more than £1m (£800,000).
The 43-year-old fraudster offered non-existent film jobs by impersonating the voices of key figures, including producers working on The Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan.
Tahilramani, a native of Indonesia, is said to have been impersonating American filmmaker Megan Ellison, her mother Barbara Booth and Hollywood executive Amy Pascal in phone calls, emails and text messages.
He allegedly convinced his victims to pay for their own flights to Indonesia for non-existent projects and, once there, forced them to pay exorbitant costs that were never repaid.
The US is charged with eight counts, including conspiracy to commit wire fraud, two counts of wire fraud and five counts of identity theft.
During extradition proceedings last year, Tahilramani said he had led a false life because he was gay and was the victim of a conspiracy by American prosecutors.
“At its heart, this is an old-fashioned advanced fee scam,” Joel Smith, representing the US, told Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.
Chief magistrate Paul Goldspring has now approved his extradition and sent the case to Home Secretary Sulla Braverman for a decision.
Among the victims was New York-based screenwriter Greg Mandarano, whom Tahilramani allegedly swindled out of $80,000 (£64,400) by posing as film producer Gene Pritzker.
Tahilramani, pretending to be Ms. Pritzker, offered Mr. Mandarano sex and persuaded him to send her recordings, according to Smith.
Tahilramani emailed freelance photographer Will Strathmann, posing as Amy Pascal, to persuade him to travel to Indonesia to direct a Netflix travel series, the court heard.
It is alleged that £40,000 was paid for imaginary expenses on three trips in 2017.
Los Angeles-based Dan Considine received a text message in May 2020 from Thomas Haislip – a producer working with Inception and Tenet director Nolan.
The court heard he spoke to another producer, Tahilramani, posing as “Dana Walden”, who convinced Mr Consid to send audition tapes and pay him around $7,000 (£5,600) for martial arts training videos. A Nolan movie.
“Mr Considine never received any videos and the audition was a sham,” Mr Smith said.
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Giving evidence, he said he was born in Jakarta, the son of “one of Indonesia’s most famous producers”, grew up in the US and spent time in Singapore.
“I’m a fun person,” Tahilramani said. “They want to make movies out of me, they want to make television.”
He claimed that because a substantial amount of the alleged conduct took place while he was in the UK, he should not be extradited and it was not in the interests of justice.