A funny thing, which is only found in Hollywood scripts, just happened in Hollywood. A woman, or organization, with the alias “con queen” has… impersonated most of the powerful figures in the Light Capital to commit large-scale fraud. The FBI got involved.
One morning, the 27-year-old photographer (unnamed) received an unexpected call from Amy Pascal. He was quite surprised, because he had known the reputation of the former president of Sony Picture for a long time. This is not something that happens every day. The female president suggested an interesting project, which included flying to Indonesia on business. Previously, this photographer worked in more than 16 countries, including Indonesia. Apparently, Amy Pascal had studied his profile very carefully.
Talking on the phone, Amy was full of praise for his works. “You can’t imagine it unless you talk to this person in person,” he later described. “She has a very believable voice.” Amy sent the contract with the terms via email, quite professional. She will arrange the hotel, other expenses paid by the photographer first and will be refunded. Six months later, losing $65,000, the photographer realized he had been scammed.
It was one of hundreds of letters sent to The Hollywood Reporter. Of course, the person who called the other photographer every day wasn’t Amy Pascal. Not only novices, even Hollywood veterans such as producers, directors, actors… are also among the victims. Ho all believed he spoke to the most powerful women in Hollywood. In addition to Amy Pascal, there are Disney producer Kathleen Kennedy, Paramount director Sherry Lansing, and television series director Linka Glatter. Homeland, The Walking Dead and Mad Men…
“What a terrible thing,” said Glatter. “I was shocked when I saw my name being used.” Glatter has left the film industry to focus on philanthropy. But one or more imposter used her name dozens of times throughout 2017. Several victims reached out to Glatter and it took her long to explain. The scammers “pardon” Glatter for a while, then move on again.
The tricks of the scammers are very simple. After trapping the victim to fly to a distant country, she will ask for a small amount of money to cover travel expenses, hire interpreters, guides… In the case of that photographer, the amount is 3,000 dollars. To increase trust, a local “representative” will collect money in person, not by wire transfer. Over time, the small amounts continued to add up. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been stolen this way. Once placed in a foreign country, the victims had no choice but to comply with the requests.
The central figure of this organization, according to the Hollywood Reporter’s investigation, is a mysterious woman with a knack for impersonating voices. More than that, she knows how to manipulate her target with her voice, the ability to grasp psychology and emotions. This organization may not be large, but it has roots on all three continents, including the Americas, Europe and Asia. Victims have been sending letters from around the world, describing the same character and style.
The newspaper also received two recordings, though different accents, but clearly the same person. People are surprised at the fluency and persuasion of the scammer. “She did the research and knew everything about the target,” said Nicoletta Kotsianas of investigative firm K2 Intelligence. “The ability to fake voices is great, just like the real character. That’s why she fooled so many people.” Even complex voices like Amy Pascal’s, a mix of New York and Midwest accents, are perfectly imitated. Of course, many people have looked to the Internet to compare voices, before accepting the contract. All were deceived.
Clip fake voice of “Queen”
Currently, the FBI has opened an official investigation to find the “scam queen”. The story that made Hollywood hotly discussed was like a blockbuster. An unnamed source has revealed to the press shocking information that the queen could be… a man. The source said that FBI agents are scouring Hollywood for male impersonators. Another industry insider confirmed the queen is not American, based on voice analytics… During that time, two more victims reported fraudulent behavior by this woman, or this man. . Looks like the scammer is trying to challenge the police.
The real problem, however, is that Hollywood is forgetting. Upon further investigation, the victims all confirmed that the queen knew almost all about them. From personal relationships to work histories, sometimes confidential information is stored only in company accounts. “There is an important factor related to information security,” says K2 Intelligence director Snezana Gebauer. “In addition to popular information such as on websites or social networks, many details about the victim’s private life are captured. We don’t know how they did it.”
Rudy Reyes, an actor and former US Navy SEAL, recounts a rather frightening detail. When he offered a high-paying job as a security guard, the woman also asked him to invite his close friends from his time in the army and tell them their names. “Like a family was what she said,” Reyes recounted. “As if knowing how close we were.” To the young photographer, while in Indonesia, the woman said that she knew his parents now live on the East Coast. During that time, he had her “play with his mind” with calls in the middle of the night. Even when he had no money left to cheat, the queen continued to torture him for the next fortnight.
Things are still heating up in Hollywood. A lot of people, not just victims, are eagerly waiting for the scammer to be brought to light. “I know a lot of people wanted to slit her throat,” said former US Navy SEAL Reyes. “But there are also people who show admiration. It’s possible that in addition to a scammer, she’s also a psychopath.” After returning, Reyes thought for a long time and suddenly felt stick with scammers. “She knows everything about me. To realize that she has the same connection with so many other people is truly amazing.”
Historically, there have been similar cases in Hollywood, albeit on a smaller scale. The most famous is Christophe Rocancourt. In the 90s, while hiding from the French police, he disguised himself as many celebrities to infiltrate Hollywood. Rocancourt even made friends with stars like Mickey Rourke or Jean-Claude Van Damme.
The culmination of this scammer was the transformation into billionaire Christopher Rockefeller, tricking a prestigious family into investing money. During his “career” Rocancourt has earned more than 40 million dollars. In the end, he was caught while hiding in Canada and is currently serving a prison sentence in France.