Tag Archives: scams

Fraud Alert: ECCENTRIC STORIES Claims Another Victim!

About a year ago, I posted an article about my suspicions over an ad found on Craigslist from a “John Alexander” of Eccentric Stories. He advertised various screenwriting services, including adapting books into screenplays and ghostwriting. At that time, I placed a call into Mr. Alexander, and within a few short minutes of time, it was fairly obvious he knew very little about the craft of screenwriting. He didn’t seem to have a grasp on the common terminology often used in screenwriting, and was less than forward with his pricing schedules and due dates, etc. It was clear to me this was a scam, and said as much in the article.

Then, I was contacted by Kenny Wilson, a customer of Mr. Alexander’s, who expressed his sincere regrets of not having seen my article prior to signing on with Eccentric Stories and paying a hefty sum for a screenplay adaptation of his novel. Now, there were many red flags along the way, as Mr. Wilson now admits, but at the time, he was a bit more trusting of the man. As with many con artists, they have a skill to win people over and convince them they’re on the level, which is why they are so successful, after all. Mr. Wilson paid John Alexander the sum of one thousand dollars ($1000) to adapt a 700+ page Action novel into a screenplay, and this transaction took place at the end of 2014. As of March 2016, he had not written a word of the script. Mr. Wilson has managed to get a hold of Alexander during much of this time, and he was strung along, being told the project was coming along fine. Towards the end, when Mr. Wilson had had enough, and demanded his screenplay, he received a call from a “family member” of Mr. Alexander’s, claiming that he had a heart attack. Mr. Wilson was able to speak with him later still, when he was told that the script was done, and he (Alexander) was flying him (Mr. Wilson) out to Los Angeles- all expenses paid- where he had scheduled a number of meetings with various studio executives interested in purchasing the script. Mr. Wilson was highly skeptical, but he did re-arrange his work schedule to be on the safe side.

He never heard back.

 

Now, fast forward to April 2017, when I had written an update on the on-going “Eccentric Stories” fraud. I was contacted by Jackie Bohacek, who had retained John Alexander’s services after reading a Craigslist ad. She was hoping to get an original short story written about a boy coming to America from her homeland in the mid-19th Century. They agreed to a sum, of which she paid $500. She provided Mr. Alexander with many of her original documents and research. After several months of not hearing from him, she finally, she got a hold of him, and was told that his residence burned to the ground. After further unfulfilled promises of updates, he told her that his car was stolen and all of his writing- as well as her original documents and his cash- were in the car.

First, a heart attack, then a house fire. Now, his car was stolen, along with all of his writing, her documents – and $4000 cash.

What a string of bad luck- or is it?

Ms. Bohacek wasn’t taking these excuses lying down. She did her own investigation, and learned that NO vehicle was reported stolen by Mr. Alexander. The fire department also stated that there was no reported house fire in the past year from Mr. Alexander’s neighborhood.

 

It was during this investigation, however, when she discovered my articles reporting “Eccentric Stories” as a suspected fraudulent writing service. She contacted me, thanking me on the previous articles, but saddened that she wasn’t aware of these articles BEFORE she paid him some money. They have exchanged multiple texts regarding him completing the assignment- of which I have possession of- and he keeps insisting he is sending what he had written- and saved- to Ms. Bohacek. He keeps insisting on more funds, which she refuses to send, and although he claims to have sent the material back to her, he cannot produce a tracking number or receipt.

Ms. Bohacek requested that write another article exposing this crook, in hopes that it will prevent additional victims. She is following up with Craigslist to have him banned from advertising there, and is following up with her State’s Attorney General to have them investigate him for mail fraud.

If anyone has additional information or reports regarding “Eccentric Stories”, or John Alexander of Portsmouth VA, 23703, please contact us right away.

Now, some important points to consider when you’re looking to hire a screenwriter or a ghostwriter:

– To read a 700-page book and then adapt it into a viable screenplay beyond a first draft is, at the minimum, a four-to-six month job (length of time varies depending on the writer, of course). No one of any real skill level is going to charge $1000 to do that for you. That’s less than $1 an hour.

– You should ALWAYS get a written contract, outlining EXACTLY what you’re going to get for your money. I will give you an idea of what I always provide in my contracts:

A) The start and end date(s);

B) The hourly rate;

C) The number of hours expected for the project;

D) Payment terms; down payment; balance payment schedule, if any;

E) Guaranteed first forty pages for review;

F) One (1) FREE rewrite

Note: While THE SCRIPT MENTOR does provide a money-back guarantee based on a specific expectation of success of the final screenplay, as outlined in the agreement, NO ONE can guarantee an option, purchase or production. Anyone who makes promises like that- take your money and RUN, because that’s what they’re going to do!

ARE YOU PAYING $100 FOR A SCREENWRITING JOB NEWSLETTER?

blue reel As many of you know, I’ve been sharing the results of my investigations exposing many of the unethical businesses and services in the screenwriting industry, chief among them are “screenwriting job” newsletters (and there are several) that charge $100 per annual subscription. They promise “paid” writing jobs, and if you have any interest in these jobs, you MUST pay $100 for the “contact information”.

Recently, one such ad was quoted as follows:

“This will be our 2nd job advertisement with (paid jobs newsletter). Back in March/April 2014 we found 2 (paid jobs newsletter) writers. I am looking to collaborate with a screenwriter who would be passionate about creating brilliant scripts based on actual historical facts and accounts. We can negotiate a suitable pay option that will be based on an agreed payment within 7 days of the production being financed. Pay will be structured on an overall basis of producing a script with revisions, but it will be under agreement signed by both of us to ensure we work together to create an outstanding script. Contact (name withheld)…”

Well, we contacted the original poster of this ad to find out the truth. The fact is, this ad was NOT exclusive to this (paid jobs newsletter) as it was found on Mandy.com. While he admits to granting (paid job newsletter) permission to post an ad in their newsletter, this was his response:

“It’s not exactly correct…what does puzzle me is why they would place the Facebook links, but that said, I have more faith in the applicants from Mandy.com, they’re always my first option anyway…The charge of $100, though, that is extreme, I’m against anything like that and if this is true, I would be honest enough to say “screw (paid jobs newsletter)”! Why post to a site like that when Mandy.com is free unless I have more posts within a specified time, so again, cannot thank you enough for the info.”

So, it’s apparent; not only are the cutting and pasting jobs ads, without accreditation to the original site, but they also alter the ad to make it appear that they are in exclusive contact with the client (they are not), while also making up a fake endorsement by the unsuspecting client, promoting their services! Little did they know, charging money for ads that are FREE on other websites happens to be a major pet peeve of this client- and he admonishes them for doing it. Not exactly a “praise-worthy” endorsement!

The client DID add, that his company gave them permission to re-post the ad, as they feel the more people know about the search the better- and we couldn’t agree more with them on that point.

Still, if there is ANY doubt about the validity of such claims against (paid jobs newsletter), we took a moment to trace back a few of their posted jobs leads. The asterisk signifies that, as of 2/06/15, these jobs are “less than 1 week old”:

Newsletter Posting Charging $100:
* COMPELLING FEATURE SCRIPTS. We will read ANY and ALL feature scripts, but we are MOST interested in strong female lead scripts. We are a collective group of film-makers, so you must be willing to see your script revised to fit our needs – this is crucial. We will discuss a reasonable fee for your script, if we choose to move forward. Send us your pitch (no scripts yet). SIGN UP FOR PREMIUM FOR DIRECT CONTACT.

Script Jobs FREE Posting: (02/06)
Employer: Ok Films
Salary: Fully-Paid
Apply to: Obaid
We are an International production company looking for full length feature film scripts. If we like your script we can pretty much guarantee that it will be made in a cost effective way. Your name will be attached and we can assure you it will open up new doors. The screenplay should be non-culturally specific. It should contain strong female protagonists and the story must be a romantic comedy.
Serious inquiries only.
Ad: http://www.mandy.com/1/jobs3.cfm?v=62727828

Newsletter Posting Charging $100:
* HIRING SCREENWRITER(S) TWF has over 15 feature, episodic and animation projects in need of writing . We know what it’s like to be a great talent and not have a resume that reflects your skill level so we are open to hear from all writers despite your level of expertise, experience or resume and are willing to pay according to skill level. Genre: Comedy, Drama, Thriller. SIGN UP FOR PREMIUM FOR DIRECT CONTACT.

Script Jobs FREE Posting: (02/06)
Screen Writer Jobs
Employer: TFW Endeavors
Salary: 680
Apply to: TEHANA F WEEKS
I am producing a feature film in the vein of Juno, Napoleon Dynamite, Moonrise Kingdom etc. and need the help of an experienced screenwriter. Compensation will be fair (at or around the average rate for such a project). The time frame is flexible and will depend on the writing process.
Ad: http://www.mandy.com/1/jobs3.cfm?v=62676846

Newsletter Posting Charging $100:
* TV DRAMA PILOTS. PWFP is seeking completed, hour-long pilots ready for production. Pilots need to be DRAMA. Scripts that take play in WW11 are preferred. We will also look at web-series concepts too. Send pitches and/or online reels. Payment TBD. SIGN UP FOR PREMIUM FOR DIRECT CONTACT.

Script Jobs FREE Posting: (1/26)
ISO SCREENWRITER-FOR-HIRE; TV DRAMA SCREENPLAYS- PAID!
Script Writer Wanted
Compensation: TBD
Perry William Film Productions – Seeking TV Drama Pilot Scripts
We are looking for completed, hour-long television pilot scripts/Screenplay We are particularly interested in material that could be done as either a pilot or a web series. Submissions should be for material that has drama elements. please email us your RESUME or online REEL with your name on. Perry Munoz
Ad: http://chicago.craigslist.org/chc/cwg/4859381063.html

Newsletter Posting Charging $100:
* CRIME/FILM NOIR SCRIPT. PM is seeking crime/film noir feature screenplays. Screenplays should be character-driven. We are keeping the budget low, so looking for scripts that ONLY feature a few characters and locations. Scripts where plot takes place in just a few hours or days are preferred. Principal photography will be done in Asia. SIGN UP FOR PREMIUM FOR DIRECT CONTACT.

Script Jobs FREE Posting: (1/26)
CRIME/ FILM NOIR SHORT SCRIPTS NEEDED!
Script Writer / Screenplay Writer Wanted
Status: Development
Type: Short film
Genre: Crime • Film-Noir
Plumeria Movies
About the job:
Script Writer / Screenplay Writer wanted for an upcoming Indie-Film project to be made of no-to-low budget. The script should be focused on less-number of characters and locations. No other requirements. The film will be made in India, with the help of few sponsors and donations.
If interested, contact at the earliest.
Thank You.
https://www.stage32.com/…/Script-Writer-Screenplay-Writer-W…

Newsletter Posting Charging $100:
* ANIMATION SCREENWRITER, ENGLAND. ONLY apply is you are have experience writing animation TV drama. The animation is a spoof of the characters based from a drama, taking a humorous and satirical angle on modern gang/youth culture. We are looking for experienced screenwriters for a two week period to write scripts for ten 26 minute episodes. Payment will be discussed with those we are interested in. SIGN UP FOR PREMIUM FOR DIRECT CONTACT.

Script Jobs FREE Posting: (1/22)
EXPERIENCED SCREENWRITER NEEDED; U.K. – PAID!
Experienced Screenwriter
Employer: SDMC Productions
Salary: TBC
More Info: http://http://www.sdmcproductions.com/
Apply to: Christopher Kenna
Payment is on a low paid basis.
SDMC Productions are looking for experienced screenwriters to be involved with the writing of a new animation series based on the popular drama series ‘The Endz’. The animation is a spoof of the characters based in the drama, taking a humorous and satirical angle on modern gang/youth culture. We are looking for experienced screenwriters based in Manchester for a two week period to write scripts for ten 26 minute episodes. Please get in touch if you feel interested in the project and you have experience that could contribute to the series.
Ad: http://www.mandy.com/1/jobs3.cfm?v=62581680

As you can see, some of these ads were posted by us over two weeks ago on “Script Jobs and Searches” (https://www.facebook.com/groups/scriptassignmentsandsearches/) and in our LinkedIn group of the same name. We also tweet these posting out to our Twitter followers @scriptjobs. So join and follow us today, and stay on top of the better PAID screenwriting jobs advertised. In doing so, you will eventually help force these newsletter companies to crawl back under the rocks where they came from.

02/07/15 Addendum:

It was brought to our attention that we failed to receive expressed permission to re-print portions of, what was believed to be, a private exchange between TSM and the client. The Script Mentor wishes to apologize for this oversight on our part. We’d also like to further explain that there was NO indication of the (paid jobs newsletter) having “lifted” this client’s particular ad, and no implication of such was done purposefully. We now understand that they were given permission to do so, although no permission was granted in the altering of the ad, or providing contact information through a Facebook page. The client’s feelings regarding the charging of $100 to obtain contact information readily available FREE through Mandy.com are accurate, as are their plans to continue to use Mandy.com as method of choice for advertising future script searches.

TSM apologizes for any confusion.

The Script Mentor

WILDsound Owner Matthew Toffolo: “We Made Mistakes…and I Sucked!” PART I

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Last week, out of the blue, this blogger received a lengthy email from Matthew Toffolo, the current head of WILDsound Festival and website. You might be familiar with WILDsound, if not through their endless spamming, or their multiple LinkedIn and Facebook “employee” profiles, but perhaps through several articles written here, and elsewhere, describing some of their shady practices in operating screenwriting contests. The list of complainants about this company is practically endless, and many of those have chosen our various threads to air out some of those complaints.

Now, I haven’t had any contact with Mr. Toffolo for well over two years- and never on a personal basis- so his email did take me back.

“Hi Geno. Just wanted to reach out to you…but I wanted to talk with you before a column is posted about this site and yourself.”

A not-so-veiled threat, I see. What is this all about? As the email continued, he explained how he was contacted by Jacob Stuart of Screenwriting Staffing Utopia – someone he described as wanting “revenge” – and was asked to join forces with them to have his WILDsound “website traffic to help respond to you”. This is SSU’s weak attempt to have as many “bad reports” out on the internet, so anyone wishing to Google me or my various companies will see fake reports and claims of rip-offs and complaints. They’ve tried this several times in the past, and continue to fail epically. Matthew added that he’s heard how “polarizing” I am, yet in the same breath, he called me “amazing”.

He also admitted to having heard/read all of the things I, and many other people, have been saying about WILDsound- presumable about their sleaziness, lies and questionable business practices- and stated, unequivocally “Your opinions of WILDsound have some validity.”

BINGO!

WILDsound has made its mark by operating over twenty contests (24, to be exact), which can easily be considered “money mills”. You’d be hard-pressed to find ANY announced winners of their “Poetry Contest”; their “First Ten Page Contest”; their “Best Novel Contest”. Yes- they have come up with a contest for just about every writing format.

We anxiously await the “Best Sanskrit Contest”.

While they promote these contests through a series of heavy spamming via emails, tweets and Facebook posts, one could assume they have professionals on staff who are “experts” in each of these formats. You can’t really verify this through their website; hell, you can’t even find a contact email on their site other than general information. They do expect the writer to submit their payment (from $10-$60 on up) depending on the contest, and await some results.

These results would rarely come, unfortunately.

After I began writing about my personal experience with WILDsound and my email exchanges with Mr. Toffolo, many, many people began speaking up, and I soon realized this wasn’t an aberration, but more of a pattern; a sleazy, disgusting pattern of scamming screenwriters.

As Matthew and I exchanged emails, I explained my original situation with their organization, which he quickly side-stepped, claiming that he did not come into control of WILDsound until May 2012. Now, here is where the confusion starts: my email exchange with him took place in February 2012. He quickly back-tracked and said that previous employees, who he claims were doing some “sketchy things”, including attaching HIS Twitter handle on all of their fake profiles (ahem), was now responsible for attaching his email signature on these communications, which he had never seen until now.

Where I come from (law enforcement), we call that “implausible deniability”- in other words, “the bullshit meter is off the chart”!

He sadly admitted also that winners of his various “contests” were not announced for as much as six months at a time. He ended this first email with a request for us to bury the hatchet, as he was “wondering if we could come up with some sort of arrangement”.

Tune in for the next posting to see EXACTLY what this “arrangement” entailed, as well as my very detailed and specific response to his letter.