Police raid Zoom party after passers-by thought cardboard guests were real

Police raided the lockdown Zoom party of a super-rich socialite because they were convinced the cardboard cut-out guests were real.

Steve Varsano, 64, said around ten officers turned up at his door in Park Lane, London after reports he was having a party.

Mr Varsano, an American private jet tycoon, had organised an elaborate do for his girlfriend Lisa Tchenguiz’s 56th birthday, the Daily Mail reported.

As part of the festivities he ordered 70 cardboard cut-outs of friends and placed them around the room while the real guests took part virtually.

But six people called the Met Police to report the party, including one who is thought to have spotted things being set up from the top floor of a London bus.

Mr Varsano told the Daily Mail the officers refused to believe the party was online-only and searched the building for any guests who may have been hiding.

‘They went to all the rooms in my offices like I was some criminal,’ he said.

‘Someone must have called and said I was having a party because they saw trucks delivering lights and balloons and images.

‘They quickly understood that it was not attended in real life by people but by 70 cardboard cut-outs and Zoom people. I had an operator for lights and he was behind a glass, had a mask and was doing social distancing.

‘I went through unbelievable efforts to adhere to the rules. The police were surprised that there were no people that they could issue a fine to.’

He said two officers were back at his door later to double-check it was still an online-only occasion.

Guests at he virtual party are believed to have included restaurant tycoon Richard Caring, the Marquess of Bath and his wife, former Strictly Come Dancing star Emma Weymouth, top model Christina Estrada, and property developer Bruce Ritchie.

Mr Varsano added: ‘It was a little bit funny, but we had to take it seriously. They were very nice and realised there wasn’t anything illegal. They bid us farewell, but it was a bit alarming.’

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: ‘Police received six reports about a gathering of people at premises in Park Lane. Officers attended the premises. No further action was taken.’

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