Two Alleged Talent Scammers Charged in L.A.

The cases are first use of California's 2009 Krekorian Talent Scam Prevention Act.

The proprietors of two Los Angeles talent-service companies are the first alleged offenders to be charged under a 2009 California law designed to protect performers from representation scams.

Ricardo Macias, owner of ActorsOnSet.com, and David Askaryar, owner of Hollywood Stars Management and VIP Talent Web, are accused of bilking aspiring actors out of thousands of dollars and violating the 2009 Krekorian Talent Scam Prevention Act, the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office announced Wednesday.

Deputy City Attorney Mark Lambert, a driving force behind the 2009 law, will prosecute both cases. "These cases show that the City Attorney's Office will be vigilant in prosecuting talent services in violation of the Krekorian Act," Lambert said.

Macias faces charges on 18 criminal counts, including grand theft, false advertising and failing to post a state bond required by the Krekorian Act. He faces up to 11 years in jail and $53,000 in fines.

The City Attorney's Office received 22 complaints from throughout the country since 2009 concerning ActorsOnSet.com. Each complaint involved a customer paying $98 to register with the site in order to secure acting opportunities that allegedly never materialized. Promises of refunds were rarely fulfilled, according to the City Attorney's Office.

Askaryar, Hollywood Stars Management, and VIP Talent Web each face charges on 16 counts, including failing to post the required bond, failing to provide artists with written contracts that include required consumer protection disclosures, and petty theft. Askaryar faces up to 13 1/2 years in jail and $127,500 in fines.

The City Attorney's Office received complaints in August from three aspiring actors who had registered as Askaryar's clients. The actors claimed to have been charged $300 each in initial fees and a $39 monthly fee for career management. They were also made to sign contracts that included a $100 early-termination fee and an illegal automatic-renewal clause.

"Actors need to familiarize themselves with the California laws before they sign up with any talent-training services or listing services," Lambert said. "Actors who sign up with any manager or agent should know that it's illegal for a manager or agent in California to sell them anything."

Both cases will be arraigned Jan. 24 in Los Angeles Superior Court.

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