August 13, 2021

Scam Alert: TransMedia Agency


Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware®

A quick warning about a new impersonation scam. 

I'm getting reports from writers who've received email solicitations from what appear to be real film companies. Here are a couple of examples:



Note the identical language. 

Roth/Kirshenbaum and Bluegrass Films are real enterprises, with real track records. So if the writer--who may be a bit dubious because of the out-of-the-blue contact and the poorly-written text--does a websearch, they'll learn that these companies actually do exist. There are some odd discrepancies: there's no "&" in Roth/Kirshenbaum, and Scott Stuber left Bluegrass for Netflix in 2017. Still, the realness of the companies themselves makes it easier for hopeful writers to dismiss any niggling doubts.

Of course, the whole thing is a bait and switch. The clue is the "trusted literary firm" that can "furnish" the screenplay that the writer undoubtedly doesn't have. After some back and forth, the writer receives this: 


"Trusted literary firm" TransMedia Agency*--aka the scammer that's running the whole scheme--has what's essentially a placeholder website, providing just enough web presence to deflect the suspicion that might arise if it had no website, but containing virtually no meaningful content. The ungrammatical text and generic, unverifiable "about us" information are both major warning signs.

The writer also receives a "Screenplay Agreement Form" with a lot of legalistic mumbo jumbo about warranties, security, limitation of liability, blah blah blah. It's all window dressing for this:


So TransMedia is guaranteed to get at least $5,000 for a screenplay it will never deliver, even if the writer smells a rat and doesn't hand over the installment payments. Not a bad payday for sending out a few emails and a fake contract.

As is the case for many scammers, TransMedia's Illinois address is a virtual office. Its LLC is registered in the name of Colin Carroll of 1063 Inverness Drive in Antioch, IL; most likely Mr. Carroll is just a beard, and TransMedia is really operating out of the Philippines. I would also guess that Roth/Kirshenbaum and Bluegrass Films aren't the only real companies that TransMedia is impersonating.

Remember, writers: REPUTABLE FILM COMPANIES DO NOT OPERATE THIS WAY. They don't contact you out of the blue. They don't refer you for paid services. You're safest if you treat ANY unasked-for solicitation as a potential scam.

* Not to be confused with this Transmedia Agency.

UPDATE 9/6/21: TransMedia is also soliciting in the name of Todd Phillips Productions. Some of the language is identical to the two solicitations above; note the addition of some fulsome flattery.

5 comments:

  1. Good grief, does it never end?

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  2. Film companies absolutely do not operate this way.

    Anytime an unsolicited email leads to asking for money, it's a scam.

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  3. Thanks for the alert. They used the Todd Phillips Organization on me. You have to do the hard week. Send out to literary agents or movie agents. There are no shortcuts.

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  4. I received the same "form" email from Todd Phillips Production and after I sent an inquiry response, a James Russell called me. He was very professional and said my book had been sent to them by Balboa Press (who had republished it) and was in their archives and that I was one of 13 out of 800 books they had reviewed. He had done his homework and was even on my website as we spoke referring to some of the features of the website. He asked if I had a screenplay and if I didn't he could refer me to agencies that write screenplays and they would pay half of the fees. I asked him to email me a list. He said he'd see if any were available to fit their time constraints and he'd have them call me. Same day, TMA called me - Laura was very informative, professional and believable - B. Johnson, who she said worked on "The Joker" screenplay would be working with me etc. My half of the $20,000 fee would be $10,000 and payments were possible. I didn't have that kind of money and asked her to email me more information. I did not get an email and when I tried texting the number I also got no response. Calling went to a voice mail.
    I am so glad I found this Scam Alert site and read your information. How do we report them and get people to stop preying on self-published authors like myself who love to write, believe in our books, want our work seen on the big screen and are just trying to make a living as an artist? Thank you for your alert.

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  5. Received the sameTodd Phillips Production crap this afternoon. Immediately headed to his blogger.

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