Must Be Fraud on the Brain

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GUEST BLOGGER

Hallie Ayres
Contributing Writer

Have you bought your tickets for Rihanna’s 2019 tour? Trick question: though fans have speculated that the pop star will announce a new album soon, the singer has given no indication of a 2019 tour. Some entertainment industry scammers, however, recently attempted to extort millions of dollars from investors to fund fake concerts by celebrities Rihanna, Janet Jackson and Bruno Mars.

Claiming that they represented the artists, fraudsters Kwami Asare, Mark Lamica, James Ganiere and Kevin Carriker purported to work as promoters from Rio Vista Universal, a media company based in California. After July 2018, when a lawyer from a company that represents Rihanna tipped off the FBI to Kwasi Asare’s demands for $19.5 million from investors to fund a fraudulent Rihanna concert, an undercover agent posing as an investor began a series of email correspondences with Asare. Promising a 22% return on the investments, Asare continued to email the agent and even met up in person in California and Las Vegas to garner financial support.

As Asare moved on from his Rihanna scheme, in November of 2018 he attempted to solicit $4 million from the agent for a Bruno Mars concert, and then in February of 2019, he contacted the agent in his quest to come up with $20 million to allegedly fund a series of concerts by Janet Jackson. According to court documents filed by the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, Asare guaranteed a $6.4 million return to the agent. As part of the investigation, the agent wired a payment of $25,000 from New York to Asare, only to be met with further demands from Asare that the agent wire $2 million as soon as possible.

Representatives of all three celebrities in question denied knowing Asare or authorizing him to seek out investments. Additionally, they all confirmed that the concerts Asare claimed to be promoting were fraudulent and had never been agreed to or scheduled.

On May 1, all four men were arrested on charges of conspiracy to defraud investors, and they are to face a Long Island court in June. Court research shows that Lamica has falsely claimed to represent KISS in the past and that Carriker has racked up a criminal record that includes grand larceny, embezzlement, and threatening murder.

This isn’t the first or even the most high-profile scam to plague the concert promotion industry. In 2013, Sylvester Vincent Carroll and Meceo McEaddy were arrested and charged with grand larceny and schemes to defraud investors after they claimed to represent stars such as Rihanna, Lady Gaga and Kesha. According to the Manhattan District Attorney, over the course of three years the two men made off with $2 million from investors in the U.S., Mexico, Brazil and Taiwan.