URGENT: INDUSTRY-WIDE SCAM ALERT
Updated: Aug 15, 2021
WARNING: Resurgence of scam activity by imposters using The CREATV Company brand
Since late 2018, a person (or persons) unknown to – and in no way affiliated with – The CREATV Company has been targeting industry professionals in the United States. The scammers have been posing as members of The CREATV team, giving out spoof email addresses, and are using our stolen company logo and this very website to lure in victims.
Unfortunately, we’ve learned of a massive revival of scam attempts these last few weeks. The following announcement is therefore of utmost urgency to US-based persons working in film, television & digital media production. Furthermore, as the scammers frequently catfish as production houses from Southeast Asia, their misdeeds threaten to tarnish the hard-earned reputations of all production entities based in the region.
To make public any information that could lead to the scammers being thwarted, stopped, or apprehended, we will regularly update this post to include contact information and names/aliases used by the suspected perpetrators. If you are aware of additional phone numbers, spoof email addresses or names to be added to the list below, please reach out to us via our contact form, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or via one of our official CREATV platforms.
The CREATV Company (a.k.a. Créa TV - Vietnam) is based out of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. We are not engaged in any production activities in the US, nor do we have any business entities incorporated there. If you have received an unsolicited email or text from someone claiming to represent “The CreaTv Company,” “CreaTV,” “THE CREATV PRODUCTION CO. LTD.” about a job in the US, it’s an attempt to lure you into a wire transfer scam.
The names most frequently used for spoofing CREATV representatives are Chris Kuwon or Donald Chan. The CREATV Company has never employed -- at any time, nor in any capacity -- a Chris Kuwon or Donald Chan, nor do we or any of our past or present employees have relations with or knowledge of such persons. We are not claiming the named individuals are the actual perpetrators. Whomever they are, DO NOT PROCEED with any type of production work, artist work, hair & makeup work offered by them.
The scammers are increasingly following a pattern where they initially contact potential victims via SMS, using unregistered US mobile phones, most frequently with a Reno/Carson City, Nevada area code. 15/08/21 We have been informed they are using a new number with an Austin, TX area code. Some of the numbers that have come to our attention are:
After establishing contact, they will then give out a bogus email address. The CREATV Company emails from our domain -- email@example.com. We have no ownership or access to the following emails:
Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do to claim email addresses that do not belong to us. We have alerted the relevant agencies of the scammer’s activities and urge you to report these emails to your provider’s spoofing/phishing departments.
How does the scam work? By taking advantage of a loophole in US banking regulations that require banks to release funds from personal checks to customers within two business days when, in fact, it can take weeks for a check to clear. Typically, the victim receives funds from the perpetrator via check, is asked to cash it and buy equipment allegedly needed for the upcoming job. Victims are then asked -- usually pressured -- to disburse funds to other people said to be associated with the production via bank transfer. Eventually, the check will turn out to be void, the bank will declare it check invalid, and the account holder is liable for the money they’ve already paid out.
While these types of scams are nothing new in the international conman’s playbook, this particular group has sunk to an even lower level. They’ve been using the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to go on a mass fishing expedition. We’ve heard first-hand from several victims and would be remiss not to share some of what we’ve learned from them.
A text or email will usually start with a greeting like “How are you dealing with the Covid situation," or "Hope you are well and staying safe", creating a pretence of caring about the victim's well-being and livelihood. Questions about vaccination status are also asked.
The scammers will then use COVID to explain away any question raised about the legitimacy of the offer. For example, if the intended victim raises questions about why they should be the one to wire money to people they don’t know, they will be answered with a story about an accountant who got infected and can’t do it and further pressured to send money at once or else jeopardize the progress of the whole production.
Finally, the economic stress of the pandemic has led to people lowering their guard and asking fewer questions in their eagerness for work opportunities.
While activities involving remote purchases, exchanges of personal information, and other non-face-to-face interactions have become commonplace to the point of nearly dominating social exchange during the pandemic, we’d like to remind everyone of the persistence of these bad actors. As vigilance weakens, the risk of fraud victimization increases.
We too are victims of this scam. But in no way can we compare what these scammers have done with our company brand to their stealing of money, time, and hope from their primary victims. Our hearts go out to you. The CREATV Company thanks the many of you who have taken the time to alert us, update us with information, and share your stories. We remain hopeful that, together, we can put an end to this.
The CREATV Company
August 13th, 2021