July 15, 2019 (San Diego) -- The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is seeking victims who may have traveled to Indonesia under the promise of a potential job offer from individuals purporting falsely to be well-known entertainment industry professionals. This ongoing transnational fraud scheme targeting U.S. citizens began in approximately 2013. Today, the FBI launched a victim page and form, available at www.fbi.gov/IndonesiaShowbizScam, to identify additional victims of the scam. Below is information provided by Special Agent Davene Butler, Public Affairs Coordinator for the San Diego FBI.
The scheme involves the use of the names of well-known entertainment industry professionals in furtherance of the fraud and targets those working in the entertainment industry. Victims to date have included writers, stuntpeople, make-up artists, security providers, and photographers.
The unsuspecting victim is typically contacted and made to believe that they will receive a lucrative job in the entertainment industry that involves traveling to Indonesia, typically Jakarta, in order to complete a trial run of their services. The initial contact is typically received via email and progresses to telephone calls and text communication. The imposter typically uses vanity email domains, provides realistic “scope of work” documents and non-disclosure agreements, and sets itineraries that appear legitimate and typical for the industry. The imposter also uses information, likely obtained from social media and other open sources, about the entertainment executive and the victim’s previous work to provide a sense of legitimacy and authenticity. Often times, the imposter will indicate the victim’s name was received on referral. Upon acceptance of the job in Indonesia, travel itineraries are set up by the imposter and the promise of a quick reimbursement is made. When reimbursement monies are not received by the victim, the imposter provides various explanations for failure to pay.
While in Indonesia, the victims are met by a pre-arranged driver and are pressured into providing U.S. currency for their services that greatly exceeds the normal rate. The victims are convinced to continue to provide further sums of U.S. currency until the trip is completed or they realize they are the victim of a scam. The victims are not reimbursed for the cost of the travel, the money provided to the drivers, or the cost of their services while in Indonesia.
Beware of this Scam
The FBI is releasing this information to prevent individuals, primarily those who work in the entertainment industry, from becoming victims of this scam. Please be advised this is an ongoing fraud scheme, and individuals who have plans to travel to Indonesia for a job opportunity in the entertainment industry should perform additional research and proceed with caution.
Report Information to the FBI
If you lost funds from traveling under false pretenses during the time period listed above, please complete the brief questionnaire accessible at www.fbi.gov/IndonesiaShowbizScam.
Your responses are voluntary but would be useful in the federal investigation and to identify you as a potential victim. Based on the responses provided, you may be contacted by the FBI and asked to provide additional information.
The FBI is legally mandated to identify victims of federal crimes that it investigates and provide these victims with information, assistance services, and resources.
Website address for the Seeking Victims Page and Questionnaire: www.fbi.gov/IndonesiaShowbizScam
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