The website for Canvas Media Group is an underwhelming collection of stock images, bland corporate-speak, and no less than a dozen links to its "Contact Us" form. It's also a curious combination of unbelievable claims and unnecessary descriptions, promising that the organization can "book any artist, band, comedian, entertainer, [or] celebrity for your event," while explaining that a radio ad can "have everyone excited about your message." And according to the FBI, Canvas Media Group is also allegedly behind a big fat scam.
The New York Post reports that the two women who run the Georgia company, 51-year-old Nancy Jean and 41-year-old Carissa Scott, allegedly pocketed $100,000 that investors had given to help fund a benefit concert for the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation. Authorities say that Scott and Jean said that the cash would be used as a deposit toward booking Justin Timberlake for the show, but the pair allegedly used some of it to lease a Mercedes, to pay a $1,203 bill at Sax Fifth Avenue, and to make $8,700 worth of cash withdrawals.
"The defendants viewed a fund-raiser for a charity formed to protect children from gun violence as an opportunity to commit fraud and line their own pockets,” Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue said. “Simply stealing is bad enough. This is worse.”
After putting $100 grand toward Justin Timberlake's reported $500,000 fee, the investors started to second-guess the situation when he failed to mention the concert on his social media accounts. The women allegedly hired someone to pretend to be Timberlake's manager, who then contacted the investors to tell them that yes, Timberlake had been booked, but unfortunately his fee had increased to $800,000. The women then said that they could book Bruno Mars...right after they got a $300,000 deposit. That's when the investors decided to call the FBI.
In order to out the women, an FBI agent posed as a potential investor in the concert, and spoke with them twice. Scott and Jean allegedly said that they could add Lady Gaga and Usher to the concert's lineup––for a price, obviously. The authorities also contacted Timberlake's actual management company, who said that neither Jean nor Scott had ever been in touch, but the singer wouldn't have been available on the concert's scheduled date anyway. Bruno Mars' manager basically said the same thing.
Scott and Jean were both arrested on Wednesday at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, and are facing charges of conspiracy to defraud. "It’s discouraging to think these defendants were willing to defraud an investor supporting a charity foundation,” William Sweeney, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI's New York Field Office, said. “Fortunately, the FBI doesn’t entertain such activity.”
Canvas Media Group's website has photos of Usher, Keith Sweat, and Erykah Badu under the heading "Our Loyal Clients," and it still accepts donations for a "Breast Cancer Awareness Pink Event" that supposedly featured Ciara, Monica, and SWV. That "evening of merrymaking" was scheduled for an Atlanta strip club in mid-October––and it's probably for the best if you don't donate $20 today.