The Con Queen of Hollywood: The Hunt for an Evil Genius

Harper. Jun. 2023. 256p. ISBN 9780063036932. $30. CRIME
Award-winning investigative journalist Johnson (The Wolf and the Watchman) expands on his Hollywood Reporter story about a manipulative and abusive con artist who impersonated women Hollywood executives in order to scam people in the entertainment industry out of millions of dollars. Central to the investigation is K2 Intelligence employee Nicoletta Kotsianas, who documented cases of mostly men lured into flying to Jakarta for phony film-related jobs, only to be bilked out of the money they paid for transportation. Kotsianas discovered that the mastermind was not a con “queen,” as many thought, but an Indonesian man named Hargobind Tahilramani. The author tracked him down in an English hotel and interviewed him at length before he was arrested in 2020. The book adeptly discusses the psychological trauma that Tahilramani inflicted on his sisters and his victims, some of whom lost their life savings or were enticed into phone sex. While the cast of characters and events can be confusing at times, readers looking for a unique international true crime story likely won’t be disappointed.
VERDICT A chilling study of deception and evil.
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