R. Kelly Scam Grabs $37K

A Utah promoter is seeking legal help after two apparent scam artists pretended to book a March 16th concert featuring R. Kelly and Akon and disappeared with more than $37,000.

Bob Tuttle of Voodoo Entertainment told Pollstar there were no "red flags" during his negotiations with Cathy Harrison of Bookings Unlimited in Las Vegas who was recommended to him by a colleague.

"I spoke to Cathy on the phone a couple of times. She sent over contracts and riders and everything looked legitimate," Tuttle said. "We’ve seen these a number of times for different artists. I was familiar with how the contracts should look and what types of things there would be."

Tuttle said the alleged con artist booked R. Kelly for $75,000 and Akon for $27,500 for a show at The E Center in West Valley. Harrison told Tuttle he needed to wire $37,500 right away to lock in R. Kelly because the artist had "other offers" but Tuttle could hold off on wiring Akon’s $15,000 deposit for another week.

The deal went sour after the promoter arranged the January 12th wire transfer to a Bank of America account number that Harrison had given him.

"That afternoon I got a phone call from a guy named Darrell McDaniels. He was supposedly R. Kelly’s business manager and he said he was back in Chicago. He wanted to find out if we’d initiated the wire transfer," Tuttle said. "The last time I spoke to Cathy, she wanted to make sure [the money] was there. Both of these people were very articulate and well-spoken."

When Tuttle tried to contact McDaniels and Harrison about sending over the signed copy of the contract and re-confirm his wire transfer, reality crashed in: Both cell phone numbers and an office number were no longer in service. Further investigation revealed that "Bookings Unlimited" didn’t exist in Las Vegas or anywhere else.

After calling his bank and Bank of America’s wire fraud division, Tuttle filed a report with the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Department detailing the elaborate fraud. He also called the FBI’s Las Vegas office and gave the information to a representative.

Meanwhile, all Tuttle and his partner, Ken Bowman, could do is wait.

"Time is of the essence. I’ve done as much footwork for them that I possibly can," Tuttle said. "Somebody had to give them identification to open [the Bank of America account] and somebody had to give them identification to pick up the check

"That should be on the bank cameras but as more time goes by, that stuff eventually gets erased."

Copies of the R. Kelly contract obtained by Pollstar show a "Bookings Unlimited" logo with a Las Vegas address and phone number. Also listed on the contract as a "Bookings Unlimited artist rep" is the name Richard Murphy.

The R. Kelly rider has "R. Kelly Management" and "Rockland Entertainment" at the top of the page. There’s no record that either company exists.