It’s a cruel scam that dashes the hopes of thousands of writers and self-publishers to see their book turned into a film. But now there is a GoFundMe campaign and soon a book and film that tell the story of ten writers who lost over $150,000 – up to $20,000-40,000 each, and some really did have potential blockbusters.
Instead, the scammers entrapped them into spending money for an offer that turned out to be fake.
How did the scammers reel them in? They offered the writers what seemed like a great deal – $80,000 to $180,000, even $1.5 million in one case, to adapt their book into a film. All they had to do was pay money to prepare various types of materials which would be of interest to a producer or agent, such as a logline/synopsis, script, treatment, show bible, and sizzle reel, or invest in other marketing activities.
Yet, it was all a sham with an offer that used the names of real executives from real companies. In the end, after the financially drained writers stopped paying, the offer disappeared, and the scammers were onto the next victim.
The scam was discovered by a ghostwriter who was hired by the scammers to write what she thought were legitimate materials which would help to sell the book to real producers and agents.
The fraud continued until the ghostwriter happened to speak to one of the victims after a mix-up about payments.
The victim told her that several payment platforms were refusing money transfers to the company due to suspicions of fraudulent activity. This led the ghostwriter to recognize the company’s exorbitant markups and to discover they were using the names of real executives at real companies to lure the victims to a deal that disappeared once the victim stopped paying.
So now, due to a scam built upon fraudulently using legitimate names and reputations to take thousands of dollars from writers, a GoFundMe campaign has been set up at https://gofund.me/eab763a9
It is designed to provide funds to compensate the victims and to help fund the documentary film The Big Con that tells this story, with half the proceeds going to the victims. In addition, to prevent others from being conned, the funds are being used to share more information with law enforcement and the media about the many scam companies now offering writers various types of direct marketing and phony deals.
The ghostwriter who organized this campaign has done so after discovering the scam in mid-May and realizing that she was a victim, too. The scammers used her good name and reputation to lure in customers, since she had published about 200 books and produced 14 films, which are featured on her websites.
Throughout the scam, she even spoke to some clients describing the writing and work she would be doing for them. But she knew nothing about the scammers’ financial arrangements, since she was an outside subcontractor hired to do the work for the company.
When the ghostwriter discovered what the scammers were doing, she was appalled and outraged, and started this investigation, film, book, and GoFundMe campaign to make things right by helping to expose the scam and the scammers.
Though the campaign does not use the name of the company or the victims to protect the victims’ confidentiality and not provide public information that can interfere with any investigation, the ghostwriter and some of the victims are available to speak to the media.
Since she has learned more about the scam and discovered more victims and other scam companies, she can also share in confidence more details about the investigation, including reports to PayPal, updates to the victims about the investigation, and letters to law enforcement.
For more information and to set up interviews
Jones & O’Malley
Toluca Lake, California