A year ago a story surfaced that sounded like something out of a Hollywood thriller, but was unfortunately and horrifyingly all too real for some of the most powerful women in the entertainment industry. A mysterious con artist, the so-called Con Queen of Hollywood, had been impersonating women such as Lucasfilm's Kathleen Kennedy and former Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chair Amy Pascal, scamming people out of thousands of dollars in the process. Unfortunately, the twisted story is getting a sequel of sorts with Marvel executive Victoria Alonso being impersonated.
In a new piece from The Hollywood Reporter, new details of the long-running con operated by the Con Queen have emerged with the FBI seeking out more victims of the scheme that has taken a bit of a darker and more lurid turn in recent months. According to the report, Alonso discovered the Con Queen was impersonating her back in April, using her identity to carry out fake telephone auditions with actors, "auditions" that frequently took a sexual tone.
Per the report, the imposter used a fake email account in mid-March to reach out to roughly half a dozen people pretending to be casting director Sarah Finn whose real-life credits include working on Avengers: Infinity War and Black Panther. Once trust had been established, the impersonator then switched to phone calls, pretending to be Alonso. It was an act that one victim, actor Brandon Wengrzynek said was absolutely convincing.
"She was absolutely convincing," Wengrzynek said. "It just blows my mind how professional the whole thing is."
For Alonso, the tip-off that she was being impersonated came just ahead of the April 26 debut of Avengers: Endgame, when one of the film's stars told her that a stunt performer friend had been contacted from Alonso who told them they were planning to replace Jeremy Renner. Alonso corrected the false information, but that was far from the end of it. A month later she was contacted by lawyers hired by Disney to further investigate the incident.
"Disney never said we think you did this," Alonso said. "They just said, 'We need to corroborate that you didn't.'"
Alonso then had to account for various elements of her professional life in order to clear her name, but the whole situation has left her struggling with the situation.
"People need to understand that this is not what Marvel or I would ever do," Alonso said. "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."0comments
As for the investigation into the Con Queen, it is ongoing. The impersonator remains at large and the FBI has issued a warning for future potential victims.
"Please be advised this is an ongoing fraud scheme and individuals who have plans to travel to Indonesia for a job opportunity in the entertainment industry should perform additional research and proceed with caution," the agency noted in a release.