A scam artist pretending to represent
Paradise Artists’ Steve Schenck, who represents Yankovic, said another agent in the company alerted him to the phony rep.
"The buyer had a relationship with one of my agents. He knew we represented Al and smelled a rat," Schenck told Pollstar. "[He] sent us all these e-mails that were sent by the guy purporting to be selling personal appearances for Al."
Paradise Artists learned that another club had been scammed when an ad for Yankovic appeared on its Web site.
The problem is, Yankovic isn’t on tour. The next scheduled outing is in March when he heads overseas.
The apparent con artist used the name Tom Porter to book a January 13th concert at FitzGerald’s in Berwyn, Ill., for $5,500, before the owner contacted Paradise.
Then, the Goose Island Brewery in Chicago thought it had a January 27th "Weird Al" show for $4,000 and sent Porter a $2,000 deposit.
That wasn’t the end of it, Schenck found out.
The manager at the Rain Restaurant & Lounge in Geneva thought she had also booked a January 27th concert with Porter for $3,000 and started to promote the event.
Porter and the manager corresponded via e-mail, detailing the advance work for sound and lighting, ticket prices, print and radio, plus in-house promotion.
Porter called the manager January 6th, apologizing that his computer had crashed and he couldn’t get in touch with her sooner. Unfortunately, "Weird Al" had to cancel his "tour" because somebody was ill, he said. The venue would be overnighted its $1,500 deposit.
The restaurant is still waiting, and a report was filed with the local police department, outlining the negotiations.
Two days later, "Tom Bennett" pitched Yankovic to the Country Club Dance Hall & Saloon in Augusta, Ga., but this time the talent buyer called Paradise. At press time, the imposter attempted to get a $3,750 deposit from Club Dada in Dallas, but the club called Paradise before sending the check.
Each impersonator used the same generic contract. Tom Porter Management came from Anaheim, Calif., and Tom Bennett Management set up shop in Redding. The phone numbers had Los Angeles area codes.
"It looks like it’s about to become an epidemic," Schenck said. "We want it stopped."