Two women are accused of posing as booking agents for Justin Timberlake and Bruno Mars and defrauding investors for a concert to benefit the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation.
Nancy Jean, 51, of Riverdale, Georgia and 41-year-old Carissa Scott, of Fayette, Mississippi, were arrested Wednesday at John F. Kennedy International Airport, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.
An investor contacted Jean and Scott in September about organizing a concert at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, to benefit the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation, an organization that families of the victims of the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown founded to provide programs and practices to protect children from gun violence.
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The criminal complaint the U.S. Attorney’s Office posted says the defendants falsely claimed to be able to book entertainers, including Justin Timberlake, Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga and Usher and Jean and Scott entered into a contract with the investor for a fee of $500,000 that purported to commit Timberlake to perform.
According to federal authorities, one of the investors wired a $100,000 deposit to the defendants. But when there was no mention of the concert on Timberlake’s social media account, the investor asked for confirmation that Timberlake was booked.
Scott’s response was that Timberlake was reluctant to post about it because he hadn’t received the full $250,000 deposit, according to the complaint.
Then someone who falsely claimed to be Timberlake’s manager called the investor and said Timberlake would perform, but the fee would have to be raised to between $800,000 and $1 million, federal officials said.
Then, in November, Jean and Scott sent the investor an agreement stating that Mars would perform at the concert as an alternative to Timberlake for $600,000 and the investor agreed that Mars could be the headliner, but didn’t send an additional deposit, the complaint says.
The complaint goes on to say that the two defendants did not pay the musicians and instead kept the money or misappropriated it.
Investigators looking into the case spoke with Timberlake’s manager, who said he’d never heard of the concert, that Timberlake was unable to perform on that date and he’d never spoken to the woman or anyone from the company the woman were supposed to be with, the complaint says.
And someone from a major talent agency that represents Timberlake, Mars and Usher said that none of them were ever booked to perform at the Sandy Hook Benefit concert and that there was no way for any of the performers to be booked for an event without his knowledge.
He went on to say that he was not familiar with either Jean or Scott, the complaint says.
Within a month of receiving the original $100,000 deposit, the defendants used around half it for personal expenses or withdrew it as cash, federal officials said.
The complaint says the two women spent around $4,000 to lease a Mercedes, withdrew more than $8,700 in cash and made a $6,000 payment through a cash app to a “Carissa” as well as around $1,200 in payments to a Saks Fifth Avenue store.
“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,” United States Attorney Donoghue said in a statement. “Simple stealing is bad enough, this is worse.”