LOS ANGELES – Warning that unsuspecting aspiring young actors and models could be victims of unscrupulous talent schemes, City Attorney Mike Feuer today announced that his office has filed multiple criminal charges against the operators of an unlicensed talent agency for allegedly unlawfully charging the parent of an underage child for fees and photographs.
“The promise of Hollywood has lured thousands of people from around the globe to pursue careers in television and movies. Unfortunately, that promise also attracts unscrupulous individuals who would take advantage of those hopes and dreams,” said Feuer. “My office will hold accountable those who prey on aspiring performers to the full extent of the law.”
Patrick Arnold Simpson, 48, Paul Atteukenian, 51 and their business, P&P Boyz, lLC dba “Network International Models & Talent” were each charged with seven criminal counts including violating the Krekorian Act (advance fees for talent services); operating without a “Child Performer Service Permit”, falsely representing that the business was a licensed talent agency, petty theft, attempted grand theft and criminal consipiracy. If convicted, Simpson and Atteukenian could face up to four years in jail and $33,500 in fines. Arraignment is scheduled for January 25, 2017 in Department 48.
“When I wrote this law eight years ago, I wanted to create a tool to protect budding performers from being exploited by seasoned scammers,” said City Councilmember Paul Krekorian, author of California’s Talent Scam Prevention Act of 2009. “I applaud City Attorney Feuer for boldly enforcing the law as I intended. This prosecution should put all dubious talent businesses on notice that, if they break the law in Los Angeles, they will face the consequences.
In April 2016, Network International Models & Talent (NIMT), a Beverly Hills talent agency, signed a teenage girl from Inglewood to a contract for representation. While the contract stated that NIMT was licensed by the State Labor Commissioner, the businesses agency license had expired in December 2015 and was not renewed until September 2016. NIMT also failed to obtain a “Child Performer Service Permit”, a condition for representing minors without state licensing.
The artist’s mother was allegedly charged $560 by NIMT for photographs and a portfolio for her daughter. After the photo shoot at a Los Angeles studio, the mother allegedly paid an additional $184 to NIMT for photo services. The mother was later allegedly informed that NIMT selected her daughter to attend an IMTA Convention in New York costing $8,245, and that she would need to pay NIMT. The mother began researching the company and the law and ultimately made a complaint to the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs, who launched an investigation. Feuer’s office and the Department have been working together to combat alleged talent scams.
Under the law any talent agency providing an artist representation is prohibited from charging advance fees or requiring artists purchase photographs, lessons, or attend seminars as a condition of that representation.
Any individuals who believe they may have been victimized or wish to file a complaint, should be made to the LA County Dept of Consumer and Business Affairs at (323) 881-7095, Attn: Investigator Karine Israelyan. Deputy City Attorney Mark Lambert is prosecuting the case.