A man has been charged after allegedly conning at least 34 pizzerias in New Jersey into making food that wasn’t needed, using the pandemic as a guise, according to police.
Police said that Sudeep Khetani, 34, targeted several pizzerias and restaurants, many in the South Brunswick area, saying he was placing orders for area hospitals and first responders.
He also allegedly told establishments in three separate counties that he would pick up the orders, but never did.
“Many of the impacted pizzerias have either donated food or received calls from residents willing to pay for food to be donated to area hospitals or first responders to thank them for all they are doing,” the South Brunswick Township Police Department said.
When a restaurant would call to check in on pickup, police said Khetani would “make statements about Italians and wished they would be afflicted with the coronavirus,” police said.
South Brunswick police alleged Khetani used “a voice override service to mask his real phone number,” but police were eventually able to track him down. Several thousand dollars were lost because of the alleged fraud, police said.
“It is incomprehensible that a suspect would play on the goodwill of so many during these difficult times,” Chief Raymond Hayducka said in the press release. “The suspect once placed an order saying it was coming to South Brunswick Police. We have had several residents send us food, which I appreciate tremendously, but this suspect has gone to a new low. Our businesses are all struggling and every dollar matters.”
Khetani, who police believe is currently in Florida, has been charged with theft. Police are investigating to determine if the alleged crimes were bias in nature.
Khetani is on probation in Florida for selling fake Disney World tickets, police said.