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Two women who allegedly orchestrated a sham concert for Sandy Hook victims and scammed an investor out of $100,000 appeared in court this week.
Nancy Jean, 51, and Carissa Scott, 41, were arrested at John F. Kennedy Airport in Queens on Jan. 9 on federal charges related to a scheme to defraud concert investors, prosecutors said. They appeared in Brooklyn federal court on Thursday.
The scheme allegedly unfolded in September after Jean and Scott were contacted by an investor who was organizing a concert for the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. At the time, prosecutors said the two women operated Canvas Media Group, a purported Atlanta-based entertainment booking agency. Jean and Scott allegedly told the investor they could easily book highly acclaimed musicians, including Justin Timberlake, Bruno Mars, and Usher.
Jean and Scott allegedly claimed Timberlake would headline the concert for a fee of $500,000 and for weeks strung the man along, discussing other logistics for the performance, according to a criminal complaint obtained by Oxygen.com. They even allegedly promised Timberlake would “make a social media post” about the benefit show.
But after the man wired the two women $100,000 deposit to secure Timberlake, authorities claim the pair never followed through with the booking and instead went on a massive spending spree at Saks Fifth Avenue, leased a Mercedes Benz, and withdrew $8,700 in cash.
“The defendants solicited hundreds of thousands of dollars from victims, based on false statements that the funds would be paid to the musicians in exchange for the musicians’ performance at concerts,” the criminal complaint against Jean and Cross stated. “Instead, the defendants failed to pay the musicians as they had promised, and either retained the victim’s funds for themselves.”
When the investor observed that Timberlake failed to promote the Sandy Hook concert on social media, he became suspicious and demanded confirmation of the booking from Jean and Cross. Investigators said the man was then contacted by an individual claiming to be Timberlake’s manager, who stated the pop star’s fee had to be raised to between $800,000 and $1 million in order for him to perform.
On Nov. 19, Jean and Scotta allegedly sent the investor a contract stating Bruno Mars could alternatively headline the concert for $600,000. The investor agreed, prosecutors said, but didn’t wire the two women more money.
Jean and Scott allegedly later told an undercover FBI agent, posing as a Brooklyn financier and concert investor, they were having trouble and “Timberlake and Mars were frustrated and worried the concert was a joke,” the criminal complaint stated. They also boasted they could arrange for Drake, Flo Rida, or Ed Sheeran to perform instead and confessed they would collect 10 percent of profits from “the back end” after the show, authorities claim.
Timberlake’s manager and a talent agency representing both Mars and Usher denied being contacted by Jean and Scott, or having any knowledge of the San Antonio concert.
“As alleged, the defendants viewed a fundraiser for a charity formed to protect
children from gun violence as an opportunity to commit fraud and line their own pockets,” U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue said in a statement. “Simple stealing is bad enough, this is worse.”
Jean and Scott are expected to be indicted in the coming weeks, John Marzulli, a spokesperson for the Eastern District of New York U.S. Attorney’s Office, told Oxygen.com. No court date has been set as of yet.
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