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Man accused of scamming restaurants, exploiting their goodwill amid pandemic

Man accused of scamming restaurants, exploiting their goodwill amid pandemic
Posted at 1:56 PM, Apr 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-13 17:45:39-04

SOUTH BRUNSWICK TOWNSHIP, N.J. – A Florida man is facing charges after he allegedly placed thousands of dollars’ worth of orders at several New Jersey pizzerias, but never paid for the food or picked it up.

Police in South Brunswick Township say 34-year-old Sudeep Khetani exploited the goodwill of more than a dozen restaurants during the coronavirus pandemic.

“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,” police wrote in a press release.

Over the last month, police say Khetani targeted restaurants in three counties. Each time the suspect called, he indicated he would pick up the orders or they were intended for local police.

In follow-up calls made by the pizzerias, police say Khetani would make statements about Italians and wished they would be afflicted with the coronavirus.

“It is incomprehensible that a suspect would play on the goodwill of so many during these difficult times,” said Chief Raymond Hayducka. “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. I will not tolerate someone trying to take advantage of our community in these difficult days. I will pursue the strongest of charges and make sure our businesses get their money back.”

Khetani reportedly used an override service to mask his real phone number, but detectives were able to track him down in Orlando. Officers are working with authorities in Florida, where police say Khetani is on probation for selling fake Disney World tickets.

Khetani is currently being charged with theft and authorities are looking at the series of cases as potential cyber harassment. An additional investigation is being conducted to determine if the crimes were biased in nature.