He goes by many names: Gavin Ambani, Gobind Lal Tahil, Harvey. But his real name is Hargobind Punjabi Tahilramani, and he’s currently wanted by the FBI on charges of wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and more—partially because he tried to pass himself off as a powerful food influencer.
The Guardian recounted the whole tangled saga. Tahilramani spent years grifting people in and out of the high-powered London dining scene. He persuaded lauded portrait photographer Pål Hansen to shoot images for his “Pure Bytes” Instagram account, then never paid up. He told people he was close with food world higher-ups, that he was from an extremely wealthy Indian family and worked for Netflix in the UK. He walked into trendy restaurants and demanded immediate seating and threatened the managers when he wasn’t accommodated. He also threatened PR reps in an attempt to get exclusive treatment like invites to restaurant openings.
Meanwhile, The Guardian reports, Tahilramani was allegedly working a separate scam in Los Angeles, luring behind-the-scenes workers to Indonesia by impersonating film executives and demanding they travel to Indonesia for some “major project” that never happened. The scam apparently totaled up to $2 million over the course of several years as Tahilramani charged his victims daily costs for “driving fees” or “photo permits.”
Late last year, Tahilramani was arrested by Manchester police in relation to an extradition request and FBI interest stemming from his antics in Los Angeles. According to the extradition request, Tahilramani is wanted on eight charges, including wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft. The biggest question: beyond the occasional promise of free food, what did the scammer have to gain from leveraging a fake presence in the London dining scene? Take a look at the full article in The Guardian for the whole story.