Recently, our LinkedIn group was hacked into by an associate of Jacob Stuart- a “Ms. Allison Miles”- who deleted many of the group members, the forum posts and changed the title of the group page and email address. We know there isn’t a real “Allison Miles”, but this is, in fact, Jacob’s fiance, Sarah Stutsman, as she has done the exact same thing before to our Facebook and Twitter accounts after she was caught stealing $1600 from us. We believe the time has come to alert everyone about these two individuals.
Sometime last year, Mr. Stuart asked for an investment in a new business venture- a newsletter designed to provide original screenwriting-related paid opportunities to a network of screenwriters. After discussing the purpose and procedure of such a newsletter, I offered to buy in for $1000 investment, with a title of V.P. and a ROI of 10% of the profits every month.
During the first several months, I was more of an “advisor” to him, personally, and to the company. He generally accepted most of the advice and implemented many of my ideas. He ORIGINALLY told me, when asked directly, that he cultivated these leads through “friends” from various production crews.
This was later proven to be untrue.
He shared the idea of an on-line pitch fest, and decided, on his own, to implement it- against my better judgment- right before the Christmas holidays. I know he took $15-30 each from participants, and none of the “pitches” were ever viewed by any producer of merit.
He instituted a “screenwriting contest”, even advertising me as one of the three final judges, and I know several people paid a lot of money to enter. I did not read a single screenplay. None were ever forwarded to me, and no winner or placements were ever advertised. Just another scam.
Concurrent to these happenings, and while I became more and more suspicious of his activity, I developed a friendship with his girlfriend, Sarah Stutsman, who calls herself a PR and Marketing expert. I know they were struggling together financially after some hard luck events (karma, I suspect), and we worked out an agreement where she would be The Script Mentor’s public relations professional. I outlined a rough agreement as to what was expected, and she agreed to accept $1300 for working our account for one year. I made the payment in three stages; the last of which she begged for, since she had bills to pay- including rent. She confided in me at this time that Stuart had taken all of their rent money AND my previous PR services payments- and lost it all at the craps table in Las Vegas. It should be noted that, during this time, I had received abut $45 of the ROI on the initial $1000 investment, so clearly things were NOT going well.
After hearing about the gambling problem, I decided to end the relationship. I requested my full reimbursement of the $1300, which the final payment ($300) was forwarded to her via Pay Pal less than 24 hours earlier. After she balked at writing a contract, I was, in fact, terminating our agreement. Well, wouldn’t you know- she didn’t have the funds to repay me, after accepting the funds less than 24 hours before.
After many exchanges between myself and them- all of the emails accusatory, insulting and unprofessional for the most part (on both ends), they eventually agreed to a repayment plan. I rounded off what they owed from the total of $2600 down to a mere $1000, willing to accept it in five payments of $200 each; I have all of the documentation to support this agreement, including comments written by them on one of the Pay Pal payments. After the initial payment of $200- nothing.
We have retained an attorney and have filed a lawsuit for theft of services and fraud.
Since that time, however, Ms. Stutsman gained access into my Facebook account, deleting “friends”, spreading lies, and changing my profile. In one comment, already knowing my wife was battling breast cancer, she wished cancer on us, hoping we would die.
Sweet. Her parents must be proud.
In the meantime, Stuart has embarked on his own scorched earth campaign of filing fake rip-off reports under various names (none of them were ever actual clients, mind you) and group emails filled with vile hate and venom.
The theft of money and services aside, Stuart has also received payment from at least nine other people for his annual newsletter subscription, and all nine have been refused delivery. He took the money fast enough, though. Repeated emails and attempts at phone calls from every one of these clients have yielded no results.
You see, what this scammer does is he cuts-and-pastes jobs from other well-known job sites and claims them as his own leads. He begs his subscribers to advise the job to which they apply to to lie to them and tell them they got the lead through him, even though it originated somewhere else. He goes one step further; he not only doesn’t cite the originating site, he plagiarizes the ad itself. This is a “company” that encourages other to send in their loglines and screenplays for reviews, yet he plagiarizes on a regular basis for profit.
We keyed in on his activities and have been promoting many of the same posts in our LinkedIn group, “Script Assignments and Searches”. We scour the same sites and promote many of the same ads, but herein lies the difference: we do not charge anyone anything for this information. More importantly, we provide the link to the original ad and website, thereby giving the job site credit for filling the advertised position. In doing so, apparently it’s had the wonderful benefit of not only helping fellow screenwriters immensely, but must be having a severe affect on his company’s bottom line to resort to hacking into a group, deleting it’s membership and sending off libelous emails. We’re not worried, as a team of attorneys at this very minute, along with LinkedIn security personnel, are ultimately going to shut him down for good.
If you have any stories you’d like to share about SSU, or any other fraudulent screenwriting service out there, please send them in. Getting the word out is our best defense against these predators.