The FBI is searching for victims of the “Con Queen of Hollywood,” who has been offering bogus jobs in entertainment across the country.
According to the New York Times, around 100 victims have been spoken too, with losses of between $3,000 and $150,000 being revealed. The perpetrator impersonated the likes of Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm, offering fake jobs to people that often would require up front payments.
The scheme has apparently been ongoing since 2013, with the FBI stating in a press release that victims included stunt performers, writers and makeup artists, all of whom were contacted by text, email or phone, and were told the job would require travel to Indonesia (typically Jakarta) for a trial run of their services to be evaluated.
The FBI have asked those who have fallen for the scam to submit a questionnaire about their experiences in the hope of finally finding and prosecuting the perpetrator.
“When they arrive in Indonesia, the victims are met by a driver and are pressured into providing US currency for the driver’s services. The victims are asked to continue to pay for other services and fees until the trip is completed or they realise they are the victim of a scam.
“The victims are not reimbursed for the cost of the travel or paid for their services while in Indonesia.”
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the con artist(s) has also been leading people into sexually charged phone conversations with no apparent/immediate financial motive.
Victoria Alonso, executive vice president of production at Marvel, discovered a scammer was attempting to use her identity last April, to conduct explicit telephone auditions with aspiring actors.
She expressed to the Hollywood Reporter: “People need to understand that this is not what Marvel, or I would ever do.
“It’s a horrible, horrible thing. I’ve had an unimpeachable 30-year career. That somebody is claiming I have done these things – I’ve spent many, many sleepless nights.”
Actor, Brandon Wengrzynek, also spoke to the trade paper, stating that he was lured to engage in sexually explicit role-play in order to convince the con artist of his acting ability.
On this occasion, the “Con Queen” was pretending to be casting director Sarah Finn, who worked on Avengers: Infinity War and Black Panther.
He explained that he went along with the conversation until he became too uncomfortable and the alarm bells started ringing.
“She was absolutely convincing,” Wengrzynek told the Hollywood Reporter. “It just blows my mind how professional the whole thing is.”
Wengrzynek contacted a friend to try to verify the job offer and discovered it was fake. With so much pressure in the industry already, the deal of a lifetime can often seem all too good to be true, and in these cases, this is certainly what is happening.
The FBI’s search will continue, with people in the industry trying to remain as vigilant as possible to avoid further scams taking place.