Every parent thinks their child is a star. So it’s no surprise that well-meaning folks continue to line up year after year for casting calls set up by bogus agents, only to find out that their five-year-old can sign exclusively with Stars of Tomorrow Talent Agency for the low annual fee of $500. Some parents are gullible enough to pay that sort of money in the hopes of making triple the amount on one print ad, only to be told their child “just isn’t right for anything right now.”
Viral and Sejal Patel, however, were conned by a casting notice on a wholly different level. The Patel’s brought their 1-month-old baby in for what they thought was a role in a Bollywood film, only to have their infant daughter stolen by a model/singer who posted the phony casting call on Craig’s List.
According to The Globe and Mail, the listing, created by 24-year-old model Michelle Marie Gopaul, promised “$15,000 for an Indian baby girl needed for a local Bollywood movie shoot.” Gopaul had been telling friends she was pregnant – even announcing her expectancy on Facebook. It turns out, though, the native New Yorker spread that lie in the hopes of justifying the child abduction she was planning.
The Patels were instructed by a friend who’d arranged the “audition” for them to bring their daughter, Roma, to an office space at 9:30 pm on December 30. They did, and when Gopaul – calling herself Diane Miller – saw the baby, she said, “She’s perfect.” Gopaul then took Roma into her arms, telling Mr. Patel she was taking the child into the audition room, and walked right out the front door. After several minutes, Mr. Patel exited out the same door Gopaul did, discovering it led outside. Mr. Patel asked Frank Berti, who was working in the space, if he’d seen Gopaul. The two men quickly realized Gopaul had kidnapped Roma and called police. Thanks to a friend of Gopaul’s who turned her in, Roma was brought safely back to her parents around 3 am. Gopaul faces charges of abduction of a person under 14 years of age and is being held without bail. She is due in court tomorrow.