Craigslist Booking Scam Fail

A post on Chicago’s Craigslist in January warning bands about an alleged booking agent con carried out using the name of a late music industry vet has some similarities to another scam that’s been reported in the last year.

A source, who asked to remain anonymous, told Pollstar the initial contact was via e-mail from a rep calling himself “Perry Cooper II,” claiming to be the son of music industry vet Perry Cooper who died in 2005. He claimed to book bands for festivals or corporate engagements.

“[A band member] came to practice and said he’d been contacted by a booking agent claiming to manage festivals,” the source said. “[Cooper II said] he’d been steered to us by ‘clients from the past.’”

Documents obtained by Pollstar include Cooper II’s introduction document, with a North Racine Avenue address in Chicago, which states “Perry’s son [sic] has developed a twenty year plus career working with industry giants on bookings and corporate buyers for festivals and fortune 500 companies…Festivals are mandatory, we book about 400 a year.”

The pitch to the potential client is this: For a $50 “good-faith” payment sent to a Moneygram account, Cooper II would set up band gigs and take a percentage off the top of each toward fulfilling a $500 retainer for his services. What the band gets for that $500 is “numerous and grueling hours and dedication to the artist that he is representing. You are also guaranteed 12 shows with binding contracts, plus over contract expenses paid, travel, food, lodging and all ground transportation if needed,” the paperwork said.

“It sounded like bullshit to me, so I texted him first [and] told him I needed to ask some questions,” the source told Pollstar. “I asked him for references for three bands he currently worked with. Cooper II claimed to have told [the initial band member] about Eric York, a Garth Brooks tribute act. That was the only band reference he would give us.

“I grilled him and he started talking faster and faster. When I got to rehearsal that night, the [initial band member] handed me an e-mail [from Cooper II] full of four-letter words … [he] came off the hinge.”

It was shortly after the $50 was sent to Cooper II’s “secretary Donna Henderson” that the story began to unravel, the source said. Questions to Cooper II about bookings that didn’t materialize were met either with a belligerent response or no response at all.

Online research into Cooper II’s background claims uncovered a 2005 obituary for Cooper Sr., which stated he was survived by three daughters – no son. Attempts to verify Cooper II’s “business” info were also to no avail. So the source took to Craigslist and posted a warning to all bands nationwide detailing how the alleged scam was presented and to spread the word.

The source said the Craigslist warning drew an email from a Chicago-area musician who’d had a very similar experience about a year ago. But, in that instance, the imposter used a different music industry vet’s name – Joe Fletcher. The two musicians compared notes and found there was a common thread.

Fletcher, who left the music industry to concentrate on films, was alerted in January 2010 that an imposter using his name had tried to “shop” a concert by Boston founder Tom Scholz, who doesn’t tour as a solo artist.

That alleged scam was connected to a man named Carey Zermeno, who’s been linked to several alleged promoter and booking agent scams that Pollstar has investigated since 2006.

Prior to January 2010, the man calling himself Zermeno attempted to “sell” a Ronnie James Dio appearance in 2008 to the “Ride For Dime” charity motorcycle ride in Texas. The charity tripped up that attempt by making some calls and confirming the offer was bogus.