Zweck Troubled By Imposter

An imposter is trying to con promoters into paying deposits for bogus Depeche Mode shows, according to Sensible Events managing director Andrew Zweck.

For the past month, someone appears to have pretended to be Zweck and tried to pass him or herself off as Depeche Mode’s agent.

The scam came to light just before an Israeli promoter was due to send the imposter euro 150,000 as pre-payment for a May 9 show in the country’s Caesaria Amphitheatre in Kessaria.

“It was pure luck that he didn’t send the money because we only found out when someone from Israel commented on the fact the band was doing a second show there, and my staff knew there wasn’t a second show,” Zweck explained.

A May 10 show at Tel Aviv’s Ramat Gan Stadium, a co-operation between Marek Lieberberg and Israeli promoter Shuki Weiss, is already on sale.

Zweck said the fraud was of an extremely high quality in terms of the language used in the correspondence. The contract and invoice also looked genuine.

“It would have fooled anyone apart from myself and my staff,” he told Pollstar.

He said he believes someone either had access to some of his correspondence and studied it or successfully hacked into his computer.

The identity of the suspected fraudster is a mystery that’s currently evading police on both sides of the Atlantic, but the person is known to have used [email protected] as an e-mail address.

The correct address for Zweck is [email protected]. Sensible Events is a Live Nation company.

Zweck is worried that the apparent fraudster may have duped others. He’s already learned of a Latvian promoter who received an e-mail from the bogus address offering a list of acts including Gotan Project, Manu Chao, Tina Turner, Britney Spears, Joe Cocker, Jay-Z, Vanessa Mae and Whitney Houston.

The last correspondence the Baltic promoter received from that address came Dec. 10. At press time, the e-mail address was no longer receiving mails.

“I’d like to find out what other activities this person has been carrying on in my name, so I can warn people,” Zweck said.

The Depeche Mode scam appears to have started about seven months ago, when Wigan-based agent Alan Cottam was contacted – via a middleman – by Cut t.g. Production, an Israeli promoter with an interest in booking the act.

Cottam, who is head of Alan Cottam Agency and works with acts including Nazareth, The Animals, Spencer Davis and Ten Years After, made inquiries and ended up speaking to the band’s management company in New York.

Cottam said he was told Depeche Mode wouldn’t be touring until 2009, but his interest had been noted and he would be kept informed.

On Nov. 7, 2008, he received an e-mail from someone he believed to be Zweck. The sender claimed a colleague had told him of Cottam’s interest in booking Depeche Mode.

“Alan, I have received your inquiry regarding DM show in Israel from Mark Zander. Let me know following details,” the message read, “Offer, Venue, Capacity, City, Ticket price, Promoter, Contractor, Nearest Airport, Distance To The Venue.”
It was signed by someone using the name Andrew but no surname was given.

The so-called Andrew appears to have been prompted to contact Cottam by an e-mail he received from a Mark Zander earlier in the day.

“Contact Alan Cottam regarding the show in Israel,” it said.

It appeared to come from [email protected], but that address is no longer in use. Zweck and Cottam say they’ve never heard of a Mark Zander.

Having received the Nov. 7 mail, and still believing he was dealing directly with Depeche Mode’s agent, Cottam was quick to cut a deal with the mysterious Zweck impersonator and soon his Israeli clients were on the verge of sending the deposits.

Then the show came to the attention of Sensible’s office.

Zweck reported the matter to London’s Metropolitan Police, while Cottam informed his local Lancashire constabulary. He’s also warned the U.K.’s Agents’ Association.

Cut t.g. Production, or one of its associates, was due to pay the deposit money in favour of Arana Group Ltd., a company that appears to be based in Auckland, New Zealand.

The deposit was to be paid by swift transfer to Arana’s company account at Aizkraukles Banka in Latvia.