FBI warns of film production scams

WESTWOOD, Calif. "Over the past years we've gotten a number of complaints that investors in these supposed movie deals have not received their investment back, and have not received any of the profits they expected to receive," said Daniel McMullen, FBI special agent in charge of the investigation.

Wednesday, the feds served search warrants on nine locations, including buildings in Burbank and Encino. No arrests were made, but authorities seized more than 100 boxes of evidence to bolster their investigation, in what they call a growing fraud scheme.

Agent McMullen says most victims received unsolicited telephone calls, and they had been scammed before.

"What we have are what they would use in the industry 'sucker' lists," said McMullen. "And we have victims who are preyed upon over and over again."

Authorities say suspects operated under bogus companies, like one called Cinamour.com. The Web site advertises films like "From Mexico with Love," which is one of many shoddily produced films they say made from investors' money. There have been several dozen victims who have each invested tens of thousands of dollars into the fraudulent company.

McMullen says there are ways to avoid becoming a victim.

"The number one thing is do your homework," said McMullen. "If you're receiving an unsolicited call to invest in a movie production, you need to do your homework. You need to find out who is producing it, who is associated with that company, and with the databases available over the Internet and so forth, it's pretty easy to find out about it."

Indictments could follow and alleged scam artists would face federal charges, including mail fraud and wire fraud.

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