The Fifty Shades Of Fraud In Hollywood
Fraud in Hollywood comes in many different shades, ranging from sharp-elbowed but tolerated business practices (the light grey) to outright criminal acts (the black). Here is a summary of the schemes, broken down by the type of scammer:
1. The Money Finder. This category is the most popular, and it consists of an army of “finders” that know that producers are desperate for cash, so they offer them buckets of cash – as long as the producers pay the finders some cash first. Sometimes it is as simple as fronting the finders a few thousand dollars for their alleged travel expenses, but more often it involves a requirement that the producer “deposit in escrow” a substantial amount (sometimes up to $1 million), and the finder will magically leverage the deposit into a much larger sum with incomprehensible financial jargon. Inevitably, the deposit disappears, along with the finder. These schemes can be rather elaborate; I have asked for proof of the existence of the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and have received carefully forged bank statements. I don’t bother asking the details anymore – if someone is asking for money up front, it is a fraud.