MANHATTAN (CN) – A group of U.S. entertainment agents bilked a Brazilian concert promoter of $435,000 by pretending to book pop star Rihanna for three concerts in Brazil and then pocketing the down payments and “booking fees,” the promoter claims in New York County Supreme Court.
Promoter Unique Sports & Marketing/Ingreso Facil says it got in touch with Araken Barbosa, who was well-connected in the music industry, to help it book a high-profile entertainer for the concerts in Brazil.
Barbosa allegedly introduced Unique to Tony Camillo, a Grammy award-winning composer who claimed he could connect Unique with “agents and promoters that represent high profile musicians.”
Camillo introduced Unique to Adrienne Harris, whom he said he “trusted implicitly,” and her business colleague Vincent Carroll, according to the lawsuit.
Unique says Harris and Carroll gave it a list of possible artists they claimed they could help book, including Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Shakira and Miley Cyrus. Unique says it chose Rihanna because Harris and Carroll claimed she had the earliest availability.
Unique allegedly agreed to pay Barbosa, Harris and Carroll 30 percent of its net profits from Rihanna’s Brazil concerts.
Unique says Harris and Carroll sent it a fake letter, purportedly from Ray Annis, vice president of operations at Rihanna’s label, Roc Nation. The letter authorized Carroll and his company, Vegas Style Entertainment, to act as an intermediary for the deal, according to the complaint.
But Ray Annis didn’t work for Roc Nation, the lawsuit states. Instead, Annis helped Carroll and Harris “perpetrate a fraudulent scheme.”
Unique says it asked Barbosa, who is not a party to the complaint, to enter into a talent binder with Vegas Style, Carroll and Harris, in which they promised to deliver Rihanna for three concerts for $1.65 million, payable in four installments over three months. They further promised to hold the money in escrow and return it “should Rihanna not agree to perform the concerts,” the lawsuit states.
Two weeks later, Carroll, Harris and Vegas Style claimed they had brokered a final performance contract with Rebel One Management, promising that Rihanna would perform concerts in Brazil on Oct. 23, 24 and 25 – two weeks after Unique’s final payment was due, according to the lawsuit.
Unique says it didn’t find out until later that the company actually authorized to negotiate deals for Rihanna is called Rebel One LLC, not Rebel One Management.
Just after Unique made its second payment, bringing the total amount paid to $825,000, the fraud was exposed, Unique claims.
Rihanna’s real agent apparently told a journalist from the Brazilian newspaper O Estado de S.Paolo that Rihanna did not have a fall tour planned in Brazil.
The next day, Unique allegedly confirmed its lack of a contract with Rihanna’s agent, Marc Jordan from the actual Rebel One.
The defendants tried to keep up the charade by claiming that Rihanna’s booking agent, William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, was threatening to pull the plug on the concerts because it was “not happy about losing [its] commission,” according to the lawsuit.
Unique says it sent a representative to New York to investigate, where she discovered that many of the people and places Unique had been “negotiating” were “nowhere to be found” or had no knowledge of the Rihanna concert.
Unique says it demanded its money back, but the defendants only returned $390,000. They still owe $435,000 in deposits and booking fees, Unique claims.
It demands a full refund, plus the millions it would have made from the concerts, about $4.68 million.
Unique is suing Neceo Raymond McEaddy a.k.a. Ray Annis, NFA Entertainment, Rebel One Management, Vegas Style Entertainment, Vegas Style Talent Agency, Carroll, Harris and Camillo for fraud, aiding and abetting fraud, breach of contract, civil conspiracy and unjust enrichment.
It is represented by David Kochman with Reed Smith LLP in New York.
Rihanna is not named as a defendant.