Hollywood hopefuls discover they could be among hundreds who’d been conned: Part 1

People in the film and TV industry discovered they were potential victims of the so-called “Con Queen,” who posed as Hollywood executives and scammed them into going on expensive trips.
9:56 | 04/03/21

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Transcript for Hollywood hopefuls discover they could be among hundreds who’d been conned: Part 1
Hollywood, the town where dreams are plentiful but rarely come true. welcome to Hollywood Reporter: When you think the one lucky break has finally come your way, you have to take it, right? Hollywood So I was in Crete on holiday when I received the first email about this project. It was called "The master." They were looking for someone who was looking to step up into a design role. Reporter: Makeup artist Heather had worked in film and television before. But this was her chance of a lifetime. The film was being produced by a woman named Leslie chow and a big Chinese production company with a $70 million budget. She said, I'm impressed with the work you've done, I'd love for you to come here. One person with power, one person with money, can turn your world around. Every time I went back to them with a question, they came back to me with absolute, definitive reasons why they wanted me for the role. They even quoted people I'd worked with in the past. This person was doing their research and reaching out to people with just enough familiarity to make them think it was a legitimate opportunity. Reporter: Heather would be getting a huge paycheck and other amazing perks, like a research trip to Jakarta, Indonesia. She had to arrive as soon as possible. We needed to cover flights, because as far as they were concerned, the Chinese film companies work that way. Reporter: $5,000 spent on a ticket to Jakarta. Leslie, the producer, had arranged for a driver to pick her up. I was asked to bring some money with me, in U.S. Dollars, to give to the driver. You know, $1,000. And I was told by the production company that this was the local Heather had worked in Asia before. So the night that she landed, she immediately contacted all of her friends and all of the people that she had previously worked with, old colleagues, to see what was up. Reporter: The next morning, the same driver picks her up for a meeting with the director. I know that I fell asleep at one point. With my pillow, in the back seat. When I was sort of raised up again, I was way out of Jakarta. Reporter: Five hours later, they'd arrived to the first location, and Heather felt something was off. The driver in his broken English said to me, take photo, take photo. And so I kind of realized at that point that my job wasn't to meet the producer or the director at that stage, but that I had to go and take lots of photos as research. So obviously I start to think it's a bit odd. And eventually I got a call from Leslie saying, hey, how are you, what's going on? And I was like, well, I haven't heard from I arrived in Jakarta, what's going on, where are the people I'm supposed to be meeting? It was at that point that she started to sort of try and manipulate me into thinking that I had somehow caused the missing of the meeting. And I was like, right, take me back to my hotel right now. Reporter: When she finally gets back to her hotel, she receives an alarming email from the friend. There was the message saying, there is no film, it's a scam. And she was like, get out of there. And I was -- oh my god -- I was like, how could I let this happen? I went straight downstairs to talk to the manager, the hotel and I said, I've been a victim of something, I don't know what, I feel like my life might be in danger, please help me. Reporter: The hotel manager got her a car, and she went straight to the airport. When she arrived back home, her agent called Leslie the producer to ask about payment, thinking it might all be a scam. They recorded the conversation. I'll give you my word, it will be solved by Wednesday next Sheet promised the money, and that never turned up, obviously. Such a weird crime. Because it's a story of someone who just picks on your hopes and dreams and then leaves them for And that's part of the con. The idea that, you don't know how it really works. Reporter: Or who else is a target. I was living in Hawaii. I was working in film and television. Reporter: Conlin castle dreamed of being an action star, but so far had only gotten small roles. My first movie was "Jurassic world." After that, I booked speaking on "Hawaii 5-0." Then stand-in for Ben Affleck on "Triple frontier." Reporter: It was on that set he met producer Andy Horowitz. Some of the movies I've produced and worked on, "American hustle," "Suicide squad." Reporter: Three months after working together, Conlin got a call from a man pretending to be Andy. The man said he had a big producer named Deborah Snyder on the other line and wanted to connect them. I'm Deborah Snyder, I'm a producer on "300," "Watchmen," and "Zach Snyder's justice league." For Conlin, this is a huge break, this could lead to something really important. She goes, I have a role we think you would be perfect for. I'm like, I'm a no-namer, so I'm skeptical. But I go along with it. Reporter: The Deborah Snyder impersonator on the other line says she wants Conlin to audition over the phone. I've never heard of anybody doing a phone audition. She kind of lays out the scene. And I'm supposed to flirt with this woman at a hotel bar. And she made like a weird kissing noise. She said, kiss me back. So I did this whole, mwah, whatever, light peck, nothing like too much. Then she wanted more. And I said, you know, this is sexual harassment. She goes, a real actor would do this. She said, our time is done. And I'm like, okay, I just blew this amazing, huge opportunity. If you're auditioning for a movie, the producer isn't calling you and running lines with you over the phone. I think two days later I got another call. Reporter: It was the same woman wanting to run more lines. A lot of moaning. I'm not moaning back. I'm just like doing these kissing noises. I'm like, this is so nasty. That's how it goes for the next three weeks. There was no financial payoff for the con artist. It was just the sick kicks of hearing it over the phone. To have my name used for phone sex is disgusting. Especially when I'm perceived to be the person wielding the power over another person, who's trying to get this job. Reporter: Then the woman wants Conlin to fly out to los It was, if you want to get what you want, you have to sleep with me. I would watch these "Me too" movements and the Harvey Weinstein interviews and stuff like that. I was like, I would never do that, I would never sleep with somebody for a role. My opinion changed when I got put in that situation. I didn't know what to do. I was torn. And the whole time she's like, you need to walk off that job and come here and sleep with me, and I'll give you a better opportunity. Reporter: But Conlin never received any flight info, so he texted one of Andy's friends, hoping he would know something. He said, hi, I just got a message from Conlin, and he's expecting his travel information? Do you have any idea what he's talking about? Reporter: Andy thought he might. He had been hearing rumblings of a mysterious woman dubbed "The Hollywood con queen." I said, listen, conlip, there's a scam that's been going on in Hollywood. And unfortunately, you have been a part of that now. So at that point, I had reached out to a private investigator. Reporter: The info she had for Andy was jaw-dropping. It's not a woman, it's a man. I could hear how humble and excited you were to get calls from us. Reporter: The Hollywood queen turned out to be no queen at all. The overall idea seems to have been humiliation. And to revel in their desperation, in their ambition, and eventually in their crushed dreams. I realized we had to do something. We couldn't allow this to continue any longer. Reporter: In true Hollywood form, Andy takes a meeting with investigative journalist Josh Dean and Vanessa Gregory Ottis about working on a podcast together. All right. They played some of the Hollywood con queen scamming different people. We thought it was a really cool we knew it was going to make a good podcast. Reporter: They named the podcast "Chameleon" and hired a digital investigator to find the scammer. The scammer did an impressive job covering their tracks with rathers to burning anonymous email accounts, shutting down websites. Reporter: Eventually, hundreds of potential victims started to come forward. The story behind the tinseltown con gets even more bizarre. There's no question it was seven years and hundreds of Coming up -- He got his passport. He pretended he was filming a Netflix show. It was bananas. Every aspect of the con was sophisticated.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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