Marvel Studios EVP of Production Victoria Alonso has become the victim of a Hollywood con artist's elaborate scam.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Con Queen of Hollywood has previously impersonated other producers and studio executives. Over the past several years, her targets have included major studio heads like Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy and former Sony head Amy Pascal. After assuming these identities, the Con Queen contacts actors, photographers, stunt performers, military veterans, make-up artists and more for potential sexual or monetary exploitation.
Alonso's trouble started in April, around the time of Avengers: Endgame's release. Disney, Marvel Studio's parent company, launched an investigation when the Con Queen used Alonso's identity "to conduct lurid fake telephone auditions with aspiring actors." She discovered this to be the case when an Endgame star told her a stunt person received a call from "Alonso" claiming Marvel sought to replace Jeremy Renner and needed a new stunt actor.
Alonso wasn't the only Marvel Studios employee affected by the scam. Longtime casting director Sarah Finn, who was responsible for casting almost every Marvel Cinematic Universe film, was also impersonated by the Con Queen. The Con Queen sent out emails claiming to be Finn, then followed up with phone calls in which she impersonated Alonso.
In one such call, the Con Queen instructed actor Brandon Wengrzynek to "audition" with a sexually explicit role. When the process became "uncomfortable," he stopped and contacted a friend, who confirmed the audition was fake. "She was absolutely convincing," Wengrzynek recalled. "It just blows my mind how professional the whole thing is."
The Con Queen uses these "auditions" and fake offers of work to convince victims to come to Indonesia. Despite promises of reimbursement, she has victims pay upfront costs for services like translation, driving and logistical help, then likely pockets the money herself.
"I want my name to be loud and clear," Alonso said in response to the incident. "This is not how we work. This is not who we are. We would never ask people to do that."
"People need to understand that this is not what Marvel or I would ever do," Alonso shared. "It's a horrible, horrible thing. I've had an unimpeachable 30-year career. That somebody is claiming I have done these things -- I’ve spent many, many sleepless nights."
"This person is preying on people's dreams. If something happens to you, report it. If it feels wrong, it is. Walk away," she added.
The FBI has been investigating the Con Queen since late last year. "Please be advised this is an ongoing fraud scheme and individuals who have plans to travel to Indonesia for a job opportunity in the entertainment industry should perform additional research and proceed with caution," the organization said in a statement. The FBI has set up a website for victims to share their statements and any details about their incident.