A 32-year-old man, who posed as a photojournalist to gate-crash page 3 parties or PR events at five-star hotels in Delhi and Mumbai was nabbed by the police on April 25.
Ashish John would carry a camera and hang a fake press card around his neck while gate-crashing the parties and events. He would also click a few photographs ostensibly “for the front page of a lifestyle publication”, have food and take selfies with celebrities before quietly slipping out with valuables of the visitors, reported TOI.
John was caught while attending one such programme at a hotel near Janpath in New Delhi. DCP New Delhi Madhur Verma said an impersonation case had been registered against him adding, “We are inquiring into his other involvements as well.”
John reportedly claimed that he is a graduate and he was inspired by the Hollywood movie, Catch Me If You Can, and imitated its protagonist, Frank Abagnale, played by Leonardo DiCaprio. John used to upload his photos on Instagram to impress his targets.
John’s Instagram bio reads, “Bollywood Fashion photographer.” It also mentions that he is a photographer with the entertainment supplement of a reputed newspaper.
Apart from photos of celebrities, John can also be seen posing with some of them including famous Bollywood actor Ayushmann Khurrana.
John would present himself to PR companies as a reporter, editor or a photographer with a top lifestyle publication and approach his targets with story ideas and the way he planned to display them. According to the report, he would convince them to fund his travel for various programmes, including product launches. In addition, he would also attend after-parties of movie launches to click photographs. However, in reality, John was reported to be jobless and was staying in an apartment owned by his father in Moti Nagar.
Following a tip-off from a staffer of a five-star hotel, a team led by the station house officer of Parliament Street police station, Ved Prakash had found John’s photos on social media.
John’s photos were then circulated among the security agencies operating in all hotels and on Thursday the police caught him after receiving a call from a security officer about John’s presence in a hotel. Initially, he tried to pose as a journalist who was being harassed by cops. However, he later admitted that he had never worked anywhere.
John reportedly would dupe one agency and switch off his phone when the agency would put pressure on him for the story. He then would use a new number to get in touch with another agency.
The police found a camera and are looking for the fake press ID cards that John used to get access to the parties. In the latest, John was produced before a court and has been sent to Tihar Jail on 14 days’ judicial remand.