An actor has told how he was “coerced into performing simulated sex acts” in a fake Skype audition by the “con queen of Hollywood” – who was posing as a female film producer.
Hargobind Tahilramani, 43, is facing extradition to the US accused of being the mastermind of a 1.0 million US dollar (£800,000) scam against more than 300 victims between 2013 and 2020.
He is said to have used fake accents and altered his voice to sound like female film executives to fool industry professionals, including actors, screenwriters and photographers.
Actor and writer Eoin O’Brien, 45, told the PA news agency he was left 15,000 dollars (£12,000) out of pocket after he was contacted by someone posing as Hollywood producer Deborah Snyder – who is known for working with her director husband Zack Snyder on films including 300 and Watchmen.
Convinced he was in the running for a “breakthrough role” in a DC Justice League film, Mr O’Brien, who is from Dublin, said he was pressured to “go all out” in a one-way video audition.
“I was coerced into performing simulated sex acts over Skype by the con queen in the guise of an audition,” he said.
“When I discovered it wasn’t who he claimed and also a male I felt violated.”
Mr O’Brien flew to Jakarta at his own expense having been promised a 5,000 dollar (£4,000) fee before handing over thousands of dollars for “shooting permits”, which he was assured would be reimbursed.
But after four days of being driven to remote locations, Bangkok-based Mr O’Brien realised he had been scammed and fled Indonesia in the middle of the night.
He has now written an upcoming film, Kiss Of The Con Queen, based on his experience, which is currently in production.
Directed by Tom Waller, Mr O’Brien stars alongside Sleeping With the Enemy star Patrick Bergin and Ravi Patel as the con queen.
“This guy would just crush people for fun and sexually harass people, including myself, for his personal gratification,” said Mr O’Brien.
“Posing as a female Hollywood producer, the con queen used my dreams as bait, defrauded me of thousands, coerced me into simulated sex acts over Skype in the guise of an audition, and got me to sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement).
“Ironically, by overcoming this experience I’ve earned what he used as bait – my dream of playing a lead role in a big film.”
Tahilramani was arrested following an FBI investigation in November 2020 in a £60-a-night Aparthotel, in Manchester, where he had allegedly claimed to be a “writer for Netflix” and said he needed 10 rooms because he was working for The Bourne Identity director Doug Liman.
He faces an eight-count indictment in California including conspiracy to commit wire fraud, two counts of wire fraud, which each carry a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment, and five counts of aggravated identity theft, carrying a maximum penalty of two years each.
Chief magistrate Paul Goldspring this week approved his extradition to the US and sent the case to Home Secretary Suella Braverman for a formal decision following an extradition hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.
Tahilramani entered the UK in late 2016 and has claimed asylum, having lived in the country illegally after his entry visa expired, and his claim will have to be determined before he is extradited.
The court heard there are a “large number of victims”, including “some UK victims” who are not subject to the US indictment or prosecution and his lawyers claimed a substantial amount of the alleged conduct took place while he was in the UK.
But he has not been charged with any offences in the UK and Mr O’Brien said: “I want him to face justice for what he did to all of his victims, not just those in the US.
“He was living in Britain and committed a lot of his scams there, so why is he only being tried in the US for US victims?
“What about all the British and Irish victims?
“Once he had been arrested in Manchester I thought he would be charged.
“But the British authorities have washed their hands of fraud and sex crimes by sending him to the US.
“The one thing I agree with him about is that a UK courtroom would be a great place for us to meet and see him face justice for every victim he abused, especially in the UK from where he ran his operation.
“The Home Secretary must hold him to account here first.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “We do not comment on individual cases.”