It sounds like something out of a Hollywood blockbuster, but for some of the most powerful women in the industry -- including Lucasfilm's Kathleen Kennedy and former Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chair Amy Pascal -- being impersonated by an unknown woman who is scamming people out of thousands of dollars is anything but entertaining.
A new investigation from The Hollywood Reporter has brought to light details of a long-running grift in which a woman has been impersonating a long list of powerful entertainment executives in order to manipulate freelance creatives into fronting the costs of travel and transportation for projects only to swindle them out of thousands instead. In the most common version of the con, the mystery woman sends the victim -- among who are hairstylists, stuntmen, military advisers, photographers, cinematographers, and more -- to Indonesia where they have to pay thousands of dollars with the promise of reimbursements that never come.
The woman is believed to be part of a larger organization, as several victims recount being connected to the impersonator by a third party. One such case of this was Rudy Reyes, an actor and former Marine who was called by someone claiming to be Rampage producer Beau Flynn calling on behalf of Kennedy. Reyes and his manager, Adam Handelsman ended up speaking to the woman who claimed she wanted to cast Reyes in Indiana Jones 5 before requesting to speak to Reyes alone. What happened from there is disturbing.
"The first 30 minutes of the conversation was extremely professional," Handelsman said in an email to THR. "Then it started to get extremely sexual. She discussed how her husband Frank Marshall was never around, and that Rudy could stay in her Los Feliz home. She told Rudy that the role was his but asked over and over 'what was he going to do for her?' She was explicit in her request. Rudy repeatedly said no. She said she made Harrison Ford and Tom Cruise and will make him a star. This was against his morals, his warrior ethos — all he wanted to do was work. He fully rebuffed all of her sexual advances. She hung up."
A few days later, the man claiming to be Flynn attempted to blackmail Reyes, claiming to have tape of the conversation but was shut down by Handelsman noting that California requires two-party consent to tape phone calls.1comments
According to the report -- which also included audio recordings of the impersonator -- when Kennedy learned that she had been impersonated she notified Disney's internal security and a spokesperson said that she refers all cases of fraud to law enforcement. Others have retained high-end corporate investigations firm, K2 Intelligence, to track and hopefully expose the scammers who have been operating for over two years. However, for those victimized and those impersonated the nightmare continues. The impersonations sometimes stop for long periods of time before starting up again, as has been the case for Lesli Linka Glatter, a director and executive producer on shows including The Walking Dead.
"It's horribly upsetting that someone is making promises and behaving badly in your name," Linka Glatter said. "It would go quiet and I would think it was over, and then suddenly it would start all over again."