I got involved in investigating this scam because I was hired by one company when I worked as a ghostwriter creating the materials the scammers claimed the authors needed for their phony deals, such as loglines/synopsis, treatments, scripts, show bibles, and sizzle reals. I thought I was doing legitimate work, because these are materials that real producers and agents might want to review to decide to produce a film or represent and author. I even advised the company on some of the things that authors might need to pitch their books.
But I didn’t realize it was all a charade until I happened to speak to one of the victims and discovered how she was being scammed. Then, I called other clients I had done work for and discovered other victims. I feel like a victim, too, since the scammers used my good name and reputation to lure in customers, since I have published about 200 books, about 50 with traditional publishers, and have written and produced 14 films, featured on my websites. I even spoke to some clients describing what I would be doing for them. But I knew nothing about the scammers’ financial arrangements, since I was a subcontractor and they hired me to do the work.
When I discovered the scam from talking to one victim in mid-May, I was appalled and outraged and started an investigation to help expose the scam to PayPal which handled much of these payments. Then, I began reporting the results of the investigation to other victims, and advised them to contact their local law enforcement, the FBI, and other interested organizations. Also, I sent a letter to law enforcement agencies all over the country and internationally, because these scammers operated out of another country while claiming an LA address. Then, I began discovering many other scam companies targeting writers and self-publishers with various direct marketing and book to film frauds.
A few weeks ago, the idea was born for a book about the scam and the investigation and a documentary featuring interviews with some of the victims. Both will be called The Big Con. The book is half-completed, and I am using the advance from the publisher to help fund the documentary, as well as a feature film The Big Scam based on this story and an expanded investigation to expose other scam companies and victims. All of these efforts will also help to compensate the authors who lost money in the scam, and some funds might help the authors with good books for film adaptations realize their dreams with real producers and agents. Half of the proceeds from these projects will go to the victims.
I am not using the name of the company or victims in this announcement to protect the victims’ confidentiality and not provide public information that can interfere with any investigation. But I can share the information about the investigation, book, and film in confidence, including my reports to PayPal, my updates to the victims about the investigation, and my letters to law enforcement, as I learned more about the scam and discovered more victims.
We can use the funds now to support the investigation, contribute the additional funds needed for film production which starts in September, and help compensate the victims.,
I hope you can help us in compensating the victims and making the film about the scam a reality. We will all be very grateful for any support you can provide, and we will be including a thank you section for all our supporters in the film, on the website we create for this project, and in other information we share about our supporters in the media.
- robert hecker
- Dave Rohee
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