LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Prosecutors are bringing down the curtain on Hollywood scam artists who target aspiring actors and other performers.

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer along with members of the SAG/AFTRA talent union and members of the Department of Consumer Affairs announced Friday the prosecution of alleged perpetrators behind a talent scam that prosecutors say cost victims over $100,000.

KNX 1070’s Margaret Carrero reports as part of the effort, Feuer announced charges had been filed against talent manager Debra Baum, who is accused of illegally charging six-figure fees for representation and other services.

Baum, 53, is charged with four counts of violating the Talent Scam Prevention Act. If convicted, Baum could face up to two years in jail and $20,000 in fines, prosecutors said.

In March 2012, Baum allegedly solicited a 19-year old singer in a hair salon to sign a $10,000 per month management contract to handle her vocal career, according to Feuer. Before terminating the contract in September 2012, the victims’ family allegedly paid $70,000 in management fees to Baum as well as thousands of dollars in third party expenses for vocal training, stylists and recordings.

The victim’s sister was also allegedly solicited for a contract and paid an additional $40,000 to Baum in management fees for acting, Feuer said.

A complaint was subsequently made to the City Attorney’s Office and investigated by the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer Affairs.

Paula Dorn, co-founder BizParentz Foundation, said such scams are “aimed at parents of children who have little or no knowledge of how the industry works.”

“The costs are great in dollars and in emotional fall out on the children and their families,” Dorn added.

As part of the education campaign, Feuer’s office released a flyer (PDF) for aspiring entertainers on how best to avoid being bilked by similar schemes.


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