Watch Out For Scams!
Congratulations to Philadelphia for winning the Superbowl. I know this is not a sports blog but you got to admit even in defeat Tom Brady put on a great show. Philly quarterback Foles won MVP honors with 343 yards passing and three touchdowns. Tom Terrific tossed for over 500 yards (a Superbowl record) and three TD’s and has to pay his own way to Disney World. I guess Tom’s wife, Giselle, would let us know that her husband can’t play offense and defense too!
Our first podcast is on the air! The quickest way to find it is to go to our website www.BCEntertainmentGroup.com and the link is on the home page. We spoke last week about finding a film festival that is best for your film and we will follow up this week with what to do when you are accepted by a film festival.
Now for the important part. Scam Artists are alive and well and I thought only praying on seniors. Get this one! I received an email from a person telling me they were the executive assistant to Toby Emmerich and they were looking for a director at Warner Brothers. They had the logo with the Burbank address and everything. I was already suspicious as one would think the CEO of Warner Brothers wouldn’t have to go looking for a director but hey, I had to follow up, right?
I asked a few questions about the project and I was given the logline and told that if I made any changes, I would have to get them approved. The pay would be $1,500/week if I passed a two week evaluation period at $750/week. I never heard of that but they included an application with the Warner logo and address and well, it looked legit but something just didn’t seem right. I’ve been directing for thirty years and never heard of an evaluation period. Most studios call it, “You’re Fired” after two weeks and your work isn’t up to par. I also looked up Patricia Jose’ to see what credentials she had on IMDB. None! One would think she would at least have being the Executive Assistant to the CEO of Warner Brothers on her resume.
There were also a few “tells” in the emails including spelling and grammar errors. If I were Toby Emmerich I wouldn’t have Patricia Jose’ serving my coffee. She was not a good assistant. The email address was JosePatricia@gmail.com. I’m very suspicious but a lead is a lead. They never asked for my social security number or bank accounts so, what the hell. Now comes the fun part. I was accepted based on the feeling that I would do a great job. Even I wasn’t sure I would do a great job as intimidating as the Warner Brothers name is.
I was told a check in the amount of $2,750 would be sent to me. I was to take the $750 as my first payment and use the other $2000 to purchase a list of equipment that Patricia required me to buy. I questioned why would I have to purchase equipment? Doesn’t Warner have their own equipment? I was then given a date and time to meet (with equipment in hand) to seal the deal. The fact that the meeting was at McDonald’s was just another red flag. I called Bull and told them, after conferring with my agent, I’ve decided to pass on the project.
Two weeks later an express mail delivery came to my door. It contained a check for $2,750. At first I couldn’t figure out what it was for as there was no cover letter or statement. Yes, I do receive other checks in the mail. Then it dawned on me that this was the check from Patricia Jose’s people. The check wasn’t drawn on a Warner account but it was a business check. It looked legit but something just screamed this is a SCAM. I went to my bank and asked for the Fraud Division. I asked them if this was a good check? Hey, still wanted it to be true. Immediately the bank executive said “No,” and started citing different reasons why it was a bad check. In my head I already knew it was true. So, here’s how the scam works, you deposit the check and it takes five days for it to be returned. You’ve already bought the equipment and delivered it. Check comes back to your account and you are charged the $2750 plus bad check costs and are stuck. They sell the equipment and live happily ever after.
The first thing I thought was, ‘how many young directors want a gig so bad they would fall for such a scam’? The cost of an Express Mail delivery wasn’t cheap $27. Someone had to have fallen for it because these people aren’t in business to spend more than they make. So, BE CAREFUL OUT THERE! Whether it’s Patricia Jose at JosePatricia@gmail.com or anyone representing themselves from a studio looking for crew, CHECK THEM OUT! These scam artists are good. The only redeeming thing was I liked the log line. I wonder if they stole one from another movie or just made one up on the spot? I might research it or maybe even write that script. could this be the silver lining in the black cloud? Who knows. Until next week….
Podcast @ Next Stop, Hollywood – Podcast