While Hollywood is busy cooking up a Netflix version of the scammer story that kicked off the summer, it's actually been dealing with a con artist of its own. A wild story in The Hollywood Reporter documents an unknown woman who, for the past two and a half years, has been impersonating top female industry professionals and swindling her victims out of more than $50,000 — and she still hasn't been caught.
Believed to be the same woman in part of a larger organization, the culprit has impersonated people like producers Amy Pascal, Kathleen Kennedy, and executive Stacey Snider and convinced victims to front the cost of travel and transportation for made up creative projects with the promise that they'd be reimbursed. They never were.
In one instance, a freelance documentary photographer says he received an email from someone impersonating Pascal asking if he'd be up for traveling to Indonesia as part of a pair of short documentary films she was working on. They went on to speak on the phone about it, and the photographer ended up signing a contract and traveling to Indonesia. His interaction with the person pretending to be Pascal was limited to phone calls, but they occurred pretty much every day. It took six months and $65,000 for him to realize he had been tricked.
Many other victims had similar stories. They were approached by big names and went on to have repeated phone calls with someone who turned out to be an extremely talented imposter. THR obtained audio of some of the calls, showcasing how the woman could convincingly adopt a number of accents. For instance, American:
However, K2 investigators who have been hired by some of the women who have been impersonated believe that she might be Asian based on some of the aspects of her diction.
Victims also report severe emotional manipulation, with instances of the imposter sexually harassing the victims, berating them, and depriving them of sleep with her incessant phone calls and demands.
The woman and whatever organization she works for have managed to elude discovery thanks to their wide variety of tactics. She speaks in the multiple voices, conducts business with victims in multiple territories, and only ever deals with a few thousand dollars at a time, which isn't enough for the FBI to consider getting involved. Many victims made phone calls to the FBI to no avail.
As for now, both those being impersonated and the victims on the other end are still waiting for justice. No doubt this tale will become its own sort of movie. A real one, though, please.
Pascal, Kennedy, and Snyder did not immediately return Refinery29's request for comment.