Hargobind Tahilramani, the alleged mastermind behind the “Hollywood Con Queen” scam, can be extradited to face charges in California, a U.K. judge ruled on Tuesday morning.
Tahilramani appeared in court via videolink to hear the judgment, holding his face in his hands.
The decision means Tahilramani, who has been languishing in a U.K. prison since his arrest in 2020, can be sent to the U.S. where he is set to face charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. His extradition must be formally ordered by the U.K.’s Secretary of State.
Tahilramani’s case was heard by District Judge Paul Goldspring at Westminster Magistrates Court in London last September. On Tuesday morning the judge confirmed Tahilramani could be extradited.
The alleged scammer has previously indicated he planned to appeal if extradition was granted. His legal team put forward he was at greater risk in a U.S. prison due to his sexuality and ethnicity. He also indicated he would go on hunger strike if forcibly removed to the U.S.
Tahilramani, who claimed to be working as a food blogger shortly before his arrest in Manchester in 2020, is accused of masterminding a $1 million scam that ensnared around three hundred victims across multiple jurisdictions over a period of around six years.
The FBI alleges Tahilramani, who says he worked as a music executive in Indonesia before moving to the U.K., posed as a variety of well-known female Hollywood executives, their assistants and even their relatives in a bid to lure victims out to Indonesia with the promise of work. Among those he is accused of impersonating are producer Gigi Pritzker, former Sony Pictures co-chair Amy Pascal, Annapurna Pictures founder Megan Ellison and Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy.
Victims were asked to fund their own flights, often at great expense, and once in Indonesia pressured to hand over cash sums, allegedly for sundries such as translators and chauffeurs, before they could be taken to meet the executives. However, the meetings never materialized and neither did the work. Some victims were enticed to fly out to Jakarta multiple times before eventually realizing they had been scammed.
Many victims reported that the con artist would alternate between sexually suggestive language and intense anger when his instructions were disobeyed.
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