Ottawa

A chance to star in the next Spider-Man film? Not so fast

A fake Instagram account is offering the opportunity to audition for a pair of Hollywood blockbusters — and is doing so by impersonating a local actor.

Local talent agency warns of online scam preying on aspiring actors

Catherine Mensour of the Mensour Agency is warning that aspiring actors seeking their 'big break' shouldn't fall for an Instagram scam promising an audition next month for two Hollywood blockbusters. (Jean Delisle/CBC)

A local talent agency is warning aspiring actors that an offer to audition for a pair of upcoming blockbusters is a scam.

The Mensour Agency recently discovered a fake Instagram account claiming the Ottawa company was recruiting actors for two Hollywood movies — but that big break would come with a price.

Catherine Mensour said she was settling in to watch the Oscars on Feb. 9 when another agency contacted her about the announcement, which appeared to have been posted by Xavier Sotelo, an actor she represents.

The announcement said the agency "has been tasked with bringing in fresh actors for new roles in the upcoming SpiderMan 3 and Tomb Raider 2," with auditions slated for next month.

Mensour knew the post was a lie because her agency doesn't cast movies. She soon learned from Sotelo that someone had copied his Instagram account and was impersonating him online.

The audition offer was the first step in a scam designed to draw personal and financial information — along with cold hard cash — from actors with stars in their eyes.

Some took the bait and responded to the fake account's pitch, receiving public replies first asking them to fill out detailed background forms and then shell out $500 US for the fictional audition. 

Ottawa actor Xavier Sotelo says someone copied his Instagram account to circulate the fake audition notice. 'You read about scams that happen all the time,' he said, 'but you never think it's going to be you.' (Jean Delisle/CBC)

Mensour said a legitimate agency will never ask for money from any actor.

"It's terrifying, because people want to be in the business, " said Mensour.  "People want to get a big break, and [they'll] think this is it."

Sotelo said at first he was stunned someone had used his identity to set up a scam.

But then he got mad.

"I was angry that this was happening, and especially with the younger talent," said Sotelo. "It's taking advantage of of people's dreams."

Xavier Sotelo has posted warnings about the scam on social media. (CBC)

Sotelo said he's contacted Instagram about the fake account and has posted warnings on social media.   

Mensour said she's filed a complaint with Ottawa police and alerted TAMAC, the association overseeing Canadian talent agencies.

About the Author

Sandra Abma

Journalist

Sandra Abma is a veteran CBC arts journalist. If you have an event or idea you want to share, please do at sandra.abma@cbc.ca.

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