Beware of Scammers: IMDB Posers Looking to Steal Credit Card Information

Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 11.36.20 AMShockingly, the road to Hollywood is not paved solely with the sated dreams of stars of yore, nor lined with billboards offering helpful tips pointing the way to a secure and illustrious acting career. And occasionally, on this whimsical path we call a career in the arts we even encounter those bridge-dwelling trolls, the scammers.

These are the so-called “agents” that demand exorbitant fees up front, the faceless managers and services that promise stardom in return for costly (and unnecessary) concessions on your part. Hopefully, when we do encounter these disreputable characters, we have heard enough from other actors and performers to raise some red flags in our minds. So today, we aim to plant a permanent red flag on the doorstep of the scammers that contacted Deana Falco and her family.

When I spoke to Mrs. Falco, she told me she had actually started managing her daughter’s career, but when her daughter decided show business wasn’t for her, Deana’s young son Frankie got the bug. “I just submitted a picture of my son, no speaking role, and he got the part….” Deana remembers. “I took it from there.”

Naturally, there were pitfalls, but Deana and her family persisted. “I submitted pics to agents, no one was responding…It just depends on that one person.”

Luckily, Frankie’s natural charisma began to get him attention. “My son is not your ordinary 8 year old, he’s very mature for his age,” Deana explains. “It’s the most important thing that they follow directions…that’s what I get a lot of.”

Deana is diligent about managing her son’s accounts on breakdown services. Actor’s Access, Backstage, the works. It was as she was checking up one of Frankie’s video submissions to Cast It Talent that she started talking to our very own Anthony De Santis about an alarming recent development in her son’s career. “I just happened to tell Anthony what happened about IMDB and he took it seriously…he was just, like, blown away when I told him my story.”

It’s a story we should all take seriously. One day Deana got a call on her cell from a man calling himself Jason and claiming to be from IMDB. Deana was overwhelmed by the amount of personal information Jason seemed to have about her son and her family. He knew Deana by name. “He knew everything about my son…everything,” Deana recalls, “A to Z…he even described him.”

Jason said his contacts were very interested in Frankie. That they wanted to put up bolster his account, put up pictures, that she would get innumerable benefits by managing Frankie’s account through Jason as opposed to doing it online. And then the kicker—he needed her credit card information to make it all possible. Wary, Deana put him off by saying she needed to consult her husband. Jason offered to call back at a better time. And he did. “This guy called me back like 10 times.” And he was reliable. If he said he would call at a certain time, he was punctual and polite. “I didn’t want to hurt his feelings,” Deana admits. Finally, in an effort to forestall further contact, Deana told Jason that her husband had surprised her with an IMDB Pro account for Frankie. “He didn’t like that,” she remembers of Jason. Again trying to be polite, she assured him she was willing to put in a good word in with his employers, and Jason got his manager on the phone. This so called manager said Jason worked on commission, and…guess what? (Bet you got it). The only way Jason would get his commission was if they ran Deana’s credit card information.

It was at this point that Deana’s husband thankfully put his foot down. Unfortunately her troubles were only beginning. She went on IMDB and discovered that now, on her son’s account, his resume was no longer functional. Now when she clicked “resume,” it linked to “DeanaFalco.” Deana called back Jason’s number and, drum roll…he said he needed her credit card info to fix it.

Here’s the really scary thing. Deana never gave them her information. She never agreed to their terms. And they still were able to hack her son’s account (which had to be cancelled) and get enough information on Frankie that a less watchful mother might have been conned into handing over damaging amounts of information. “I lost my son’s advertizing because of two scam artists,” Deana concluded at the end of our interview. “[Jason] was a professional, I can tell you that. He was good.”

Right now the best we can hope for is to expose this scam and others like it, in an effort to protect unwary actors. Share this article and this story with your friends. Keep each other safe. No one should be calling you from IMDB. No one should be asking for your credit card information over the phone. If you feel the faintest hint of suspicion about a potential scam, take a step back and do your research. And let us at Cast It Talent know, so that we can help plant more red flags on duplicitous ground.

 

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Rachel Rachel Frawley is an actor living in Atlanta. She holds a B.F.A. in Theatre from Michigan State University (with cognates in Music and Professional Writing) and is an Apprentice Company graduate from the Atlanta Shakespeare Co. She also works as an education artist for local theatres, which have included the Shakespeare Tavern and Aurora Theatre. For more information, visit her website at www.rachelfrawley.com