Man cheats parents of child artistes, held

Spinning lies: Aspiring actors’ parents filed a complaint against Sandeep Vharambale alias Sandy (right) for cheating them by promising roles in ad films.  

The Thane Police Crime Branch has arrested an alleged serial conman who would dupe people by promising to get their children roles in television commercials. Seventeen cases have been registered against the accused across the State, and police suspect that he has cheated around 150 people.

According to Crime Branch officials, investigations were initiated into the matter after Ravindra Kulkarni, a Dombivli resident, submitted an application to the Crime Branch Unit 5 last week.

“Mr. Kulkarni’s son has acted in three Marathi serials and the accused approached him saying that he could get the boy well-paying roles in television commercials. He then took ₹11,000 from Mr. Kulkarni saying he needed the money to get a proper portfolio made but never got back to him, ” police inspector J. Ranaware, Crime Branch Unit 5, said.

Man cheats parents of child artistes, held

The police, using technical and human intelligence, picked up the accused from Ghodbunder Road on Tuesday. They said he would give different names to different people, and has over the years been known as Sandeep Vharamble, Sandeep Mahajan, Sandeep Patil or simply ‘Sandy’.

‘Experience in industry’

“The accused used to work as an art director in the film industry earlier and was aware that a lot of people often try to get roles for their children. This gave him the idea for the racket, which he started in 2014. He would contact institutes that teach acting to aspiring child artistes and take contact numbers of the artistes or their parents from them, after which he would contact the parents using the name of the institutes as a reference,” Mr. Ranaware said.

The accused also contacted actor Vikas Mahajan, who stars in Marathi teleserial Sambhaji, and runs an acting institute in Thane.

“I received a call from him around two months ago, and gave him contact numbers of some of my students’ parents. However, they later called me to tell me they smelled a rat as he was asking for money on my behalf. When I called him to ask him why he was doing so, he blocked my number,” Mr. Mahajan told The Hindu.

The police have so far found cases registered against ‘Sandy’ in various police stations in the Kolhapur, Ratnagiri City, Ratnagiri Rural, Pune City, Navi Mumbai and Goa police commissionerates.

“While we have found victims who have collectively been cheated of ₹4.5 lakh so far, we expect the number to rise in the coming days. Prima facie, the accused is suspected to have cheated around 150 people of over ₹15 lakh since he has been active,” Mr. Ranaware said.

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Printable version | Dec 4, 2021 7:07:59 PM |

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