allegedly with Bo and Ryan | Season 2 Episode 9
Allegedly… with Bo and Ryan Podcast S2E9| Transcript
Ryan: [00:00:00] Welcome to Allegedly with Bo and Ryan, the only entertainment and law podcast that brings you the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth … allegedly.
Bo: [00:00:09] I’m Bo Bowen.
Ryan: [00:00:11] And I’m Ryan Schmidt.
Bo: [00:00:13] And you’re listening to Allegedly with Bo and Ryan. We’re coming to you from our law offices in beautiful, historic Savannah, Georgia, where we’ll be chatting about pop culture, hot legal topics in the news, and doing our best to change the way people think about the law and lawyers. But first, a little about us. Ryan can communicate with squirrels through interpretive dance. They say he’s the only human who truly understands them.
Ryan: [00:00:41] And when Bo dines at a restaurant, the waitstaff tips him. Together we’re Savannah’s consummate renegade legal titans.
Bo: [00:00:50] And the only corporate and Entertainment lawyers in the free world who have never lost a single case …
Ryan: [00:00:55] Allegedly.
Bo: [00:00:57] Welcome to Allegedly with Bo and Ryan. Now, Ryan, if there was ever an episode that got us canceled and or hacked, this is probably going to be the one.
Ryan: [00:01:10] Absolutely.
Bo: [00:01:11] So we are unapologetically going to call out one of the most prolific music scammers online right now. So, Ryan, why don’t you tell us a little bit about today’s episode?
Ryan: [00:01:24] Absolutely. So as a lifelong musician, my greatest passion is protecting fellow artists. At our firm, I’m fortunate enough every day to work with many talented musicians, producers and writers. And lately there’s been a number of potential new clients who have wanted to hire us to review a record deal from this company called Stream Records Canada. Pretty quickly, however, we discovered that this was an elaborate scheme to steal people’s identities. Now, there’s a reason this episode is called very bluntly “Stream Records Canada is a Giant Scam.”
Bo: [00:01:57] Okay.
Ryan: [00:01:58] The first thing anyone is likely to do after being approached by this company is Google them. If this episode can be the first thing that pops up and we prevent countless artists from losing everything, I’ll consider that a tremendous win. So we are going to go through everything that we found about this fake company and we don’t want to hide the ball. If you have been approached by this fake record label, run, don’t walk, block them and move on.
Bo: [00:02:22] I mean, it really is crazy. And unfortunately, it’s increasingly common to see things like this. You know, creatives and musicians especially are so often targeted by scams due to–I mean would say their vulnerability–but it’s really their passion for their craft, you know, and wanting to get their art out there to the world and just, you know, having that burning drive to be successful and well known. So that desire to achieve their goals and their eagerness to share their work can sometimes cloud their judgment when it comes to evaluating opportunities.
Ryan: [00:03:01] Oh, absolutely.
Bo: [00:03:02] You know, obviously, no one wants to miss out on their big break. Right? So, I mean, that’s that’s true in pretty much all industries, but especially when you’re talking about the music industry. Scammers know this, so they turn around and prey on people’s dreams and aspirations. They offer them all of these false promises, you know, fame, recognition, success, money, all these things.
Ryan: [00:03:26] Oh, for sure. And we’ve seen it before with both labels, and actually you’ve seen it with fake film productions, but it’s typically some sort of cash grab. It’s like: “We’re affiliated with Sony Records. We’re going to offer you $1 million if you just come to our corporate offices in New York and we’ll give you this money, All you got to do is give us 600 bucks. We’ll book your flight and whatever.” You know, as you can imagine, though, once that money is sent, you never hear from them again.
Bo: [00:03:51] Yeah, of course. I mean, you know, I experienced something similar recently with somebody claiming to be affiliated with the Netflix show. A screenwriter had contacted me a few months ago and said, “Hey, you know, I just got offered this contract from Netflix. Will you take a look at it?” And you know, the red flags–and we’ll kind of walk through what those red flags are–but they start popping up immediately. And it’s it becomes very evident. This is not really from Netflix, but it’s convincing enough that if you’re not savvy, you know, I mean, you could absolutely fall for that. And one of those situations where, you know, look, you know, we’re very interested in this script, You know, all we need you to do is pay this copying and processing charge. And then, you know, we’re going to take it to the bosses, Et cetera, Et cetera. And, you know, classic scam.
Ryan: [00:04:44] Absolutely, Well, that brings us to [the] Stream Records scam that we’re unpacking today. It’s not a cash grab. You know, these scumbags want your Social Security number and a photocopy of your passport. You just don’t stand to lose a few hundred bucks. You could actually lose everything.
Bo: [00:04:58] Oh, absolutely. And. You know, it kind of is a good first rule of thumb to remember is if they are asking you to send them money first, then it’s almost certainly a scam because the way it works when your project is getting purchased, they are paying you, not the other way around.
Ryan: [00:05:18] Absolutely.
Bo: [00:05:19] So and then, of course, until that contract is ready to be actually executed, no one needs to be getting your Social Security number and all those types of things. You know, that’s just, again, a huge red flag.
Ryan: [00:05:33] Oh, for sure.
Bo: [00:05:33] Well, Ryan, obviously, there’s a lot to unpack here. And, you know, we had our crack investigative team of Bo and Ryan go full MTV’s Catfish on this episode. Let’s get into it. So, Ryan, how did this particular music scam, how did it first pop up on your radar?
Ryan: [00:05:53] Like I said, we talked to potential clients every day about how we can represent their interests in a film, television or music matter. And I started noticing that my calendar was filling up with artists wanting us to review their record label contracts. Now we do this all the time for legitimate opportunities, but there was a huge increase in volume all of a sudden. And that is where I heard about Stream Records Canada, a Canadian hip hop label that claims to have ties with Sony Records. Now, every artist I talked to had a very similar story. They received an unsolicited direct message on Instagram by an executive at a label who wanted to make their dreams come true and sign them right away.
Bo: [00:06:33] Well, let me stop you right there. Okay. First of all, just what you just said. I mean, how common is it for labels to reach out with major opportunities via an unsolicited, direct message?
Ryan: [00:06:48] Yeah, well, I’m sure it has happened. It’s not very common at all. This is generally something that, especially for an artist that isn’t blowing up on social media and Spotify, an artist generally will put out music and gets some good buzz and traction. Their manager starts shopping around to see if there’s a label opportunity. That’s when these deals start happening. Now, I’m not here to knock anybody who believed that this company was real because the people behind this were very intentional and sophisticated in their approach. For somebody who doesn’t deal with labels every day, this is going to look like a good deal.
Bo: [00:07:23] Well, so, you’re saying like if someone doesn’t have a background in the law, this very well could have just looked extremely legitimate to them?
Ryan: [00:07:30] Oh, absolutely. And even me, I’ve looked at these these different types of scams and they immediately are apparent. But this one was way more sophisticated.
Bo: [00:07:40] So what is Stream Records Canada doing that these other record label scams don’t? I mean, how are they going kind of above and beyond and fooling so many people?
Ryan: [00:07:49] Well, for starters, they’re online presentation is very clean and professional. They have a nice looking website. They have a list of executives with pictures. Each of those executives has their own Instagram account. But the number one thing that this has that other scammers don’t have is legitimate looking email accounts.
Bo: [00:08:08] Yeah. Rule number one. I know exactly what you mean. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had a client, let’s say a screenwriter forward me an email saying, Oh, look at this amazing offer that I just got. And invariably it’s from BobNetflixCEO@gmail.com or you know, Spielberg@hotmail.com. I mean if you’re being offered $1 million contract, chances are it’s not coming from a Gmail or Hotmail account. It’s going to be, you know, @Sony.com or @Netflix.com.
Ryan: [00:08:44] Absolutely. Exactly. So the first thing I asked these artists to do is forward me a copy of any email correspondence they’ve had with Stream Records Canada. And to my surprise, each one of them had an @StreamRecordsCanada.com email for each executive they talked to.
Bo: [00:09:01] Wow.
Ryan: [00:09:02] That’s a tremendous amount of work for a scam.
Bo: [00:09:04] Yeah, no joke.
Ryan: [00:09:04] Building a website, hosting an email server, creating and monitoring accounts for every quote unquote executive at the company. No, no wonder why people thought this was real.
Bo: [00:09:14] All right. So you got kind of that rule number one, passing the sniff test. You know, it wasn’t the super generic scammy username at Gmail or Hotmail, but what else about this particular scam look legitimate?
Ryan: [00:09:27] Well, the official website itself, StreamRecordsCanada.com. It’s the very first thing that pops up when you Google Stream Records Canada. The [search engine optimization] was strong. The search engine’s index it and trust it. The design looks very nice and professional. The domain name is also very simple, professional. It’s not a second tier domain like.biz or.info. Then I did something and I checked to see whether the company was officially registered with the Canadian government. And it turns out that Stream Records Canada Corporation is a valid company registered to conduct business in Ontario. I was shocked.
Bo: [00:10:03] I mean, everything that you have said, and sounds like you’ve researched so far, I mean, it’s kind of checking out. So what made you start to actually question this label? It seems like they had done really gone the extra mile to portray themselves as this very real, very successful business. Why did they not get past Ryan Schmidt, the catfish hunter?
Ryan: [00:10:27] Well, honestly, my entire time in the music industry has made me very skeptical. Right. And there are a lot of people trying to screw you over. So I view every potential client opportunity the same way. I don’t trust any deal until I have irrefutable evidence that it’s genuine. Where things fell off the rails for me here was that contract. We look at these things every single day and we know how much money a new artist might be able to get. We know what should and should not be in there. And this contract was a disaster. I actually printed out a copy of the contract from an email thread, and so you and I could actually look over it together. So we’ve got this thing pulled up and the first thing you’ll notice on this cover page is it says, quote, This document is not legally binding.
Bo: [00:11:11] That’s a nice touch.
Ryan: [00:11:14] Typically you’re signing contract. You want it to be legally binding. [Laughter]. But the next thing is that the contract itself is completely blank. The artist name the date aren’t even filled in.
Bo: [00:11:26] Well, yeah. I mean, if you’ve got a real deal. Come on. I mean, the. The label’s lawyer is obviously going to draft a first draft and then send it to your lawyer to review and make proposed changes. A first draft in a legitimate transaction, at a minimum, is going to have the date and the name of the parties.
Ryan: [00:11:45] Oh, for sure. And then the term, the duration of the contract was all jacked up. You know, it says that it lasts as long as 35 recordings, the delivery of 35 recordings, which could be tomorrow or it could be 30 years from now, usually a label deal is going to have like a one year or two year term. I mean, it just doesn’t happen like that.
Bo: [00:12:07] That’s absurd.
Ryan: [00:12:08] But then, you know, here’s here’s really where where it breaks down. If the Instagram direct message isn’t enough, the money is just way too good to be true.
Bo: [00:12:18] So what would they offer?
Ryan: [00:12:20] They’re offering $40,000 just as a, you know, pre-signing bonus. Right. And then you get to you get to Canada and you sign the deal and you’re going to get another $200,000. And then when you deliver all the recordings, you’re going to get another $1 million.
Bo: [00:12:40] Oh, come on.
Ryan: [00:12:41] So that’s $1.2 million to a brand new artist with no sales track record that they’ve just found on Instagram.
Bo: [00:12:49] Wow.
Ryan: [00:12:50] I mean, that’s it’s not uncommon these days for artists to get $0 advances in exchange for a higher profit return. I mean, these new artist deals aren’t given that type of money away.
Bo: [00:13:01] But again, I mean, unless you’re in a position like you, Ryan, I mean, and you see these actual deals every day, I mean, you could be excused, I think, for thinking this is real, especially because, again, they’re kind of preying on those hopes and dreams you have and the belief in yourself that you are $1 million artist.
Ryan: [00:13:21] Yeah, absolutely. And they definitely did find a sample record label deal because there are some legitimate sounding terms in there. Just the the specifics of it, the industry norms just aren’t being met. But the contractual terms are actually surprisingly common. But when you look at the email that accompanied it, that’s when the true scheme reveals itself. So why don’t you take a look at that and read it for everybody?
Bo: [00:13:48] All right. Just the one right here. Yeah, right. “Congratulations, artist. On behalf of Stream Records Canada, we are glad to choose you to be a part of our huge family. We believe that there is an impact you’re about to make in the world. There’s something you have that the world has been waiting for, and we are willing to give you all the support you need to bring this to reality. We hereby confirm your interview, and below are the details of the interview. Wednesday, April 12th, at 1 p.m.. The estimated duration of the interview is 45 minutes 111. Princes Boulevard, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.” So. Uh, you know, I guess my my first question obviously is, is that a real address?
Ryan: [00:14:36] It is a real address, but it’s an address to a lobby in a downtown Toronto hotel.
Bo: [00:14:44] Okay.
Ryan: [00:14:45] Not their corporate headquarters. That’s weird, right? And what else is an email say?
Bo: [00:14:49] Well, yeah. And I’m also looking at, you know, you know how my, uh, my OCD kicks in when it comes to things. You’ve got, you know, words that are capitalized that should not be too many spaces between I mean, it’s just it’s not a well drafted email at all. But but let’s keep going. All right. So we would also be conducting a demo review for ten more of your songs that you will be performing. This is as a result to Astroworld tragedy to prevent any violence or “loppy” concert. Okay. Uh. What exactly is a “sloppy” concert?
Ryan: [00:15:26] Yeah, I’m guessing they meant to write sloppy concert. But again, you’re right. If there’s any type of typos or formatting looks weird, it’s a good indication there’s a scam. But here’s what’s weird. You know, if. If they’re offering you a $1.2 million deal, sight unseen on Instagram, we’re going to sign you. Why is there going to be a 45 minute interview and then a ten song tryout and then you sign the deal?
Bo: [00:15:53] Yeah. I mean, the whole thing just simply doesn’t make any sense.
Ryan: [00:15:56] But read. Read the next page of the first sentence. This is where it gets real sketchy.
Bo: [00:16:02] Okay. Compulsory requirements. Please bring along your police clearance certificate for obtaining of Canada visa ID and your social for verification.
Ryan: [00:16:15] Right. And then they sign off “To greatness, much success.” So there it is. I mean obviously you don’t need to get a visa as an American citizen to visit Canada and you definitely shouldn’t hand over your ID or social to someone you just met on Instagram. So I told each of these artists that this was not something I thought that they should pursue and they should stay far away from. But clearly here, this isn’t a cash grab. They are looking for you to get a work visa, provide a copy of your passport and provide your social, and then it’s going to be some type of like immigration scam or, you know, identity theft or something like that. So this is bad. This is really bad.
Bo: [00:16:59] It’s infuriating.
Ryan: [00:17:01] And so and exploiting starving artists hopes and dreams just to steal their identities is just simply pathetic. So once I saw this, I was pissed off enough to dig deeper into the scam and expose these a**holes.
Bo: [00:17:14] Ryan Schmidt on the warpath. I like it. So. Well, what are some other things you did to confirm that Stream Records Canada was a scam. And. And more importantly, you know, what are some things that musicians can do to protect themselves? And, you know, when they’re faced with things like this.
Ryan: [00:17:32] Well, you know, trust your gut. You know, if something comes to you via Instagram like that, you know, first look at that. Do the things that Catfish teaches you to do. The reverse image search in Google and kind of trace down and verify. But first thing I did is I went back to their website, which at first blush looked really good. But on closer examination, the cracks in the seemingly perfect facade started to appear. You know, the website claims that Stream Records address is 190 Liberty Street, Suite 100 in Toronto. Well, Google that address, and that’s actually the address for the old corporate headquarters of Sony Music Canada. Right. So these people simply listed a random record label address in Canada that they could find. And they’re like, good enough. Nobody’s going to check it out. Under that same principle, the address listed in their contract is 955 Queen Street in Toronto. This is actually an address for another record label, Paper Bag Records. So they’re just like, oh, you know, Canadian record label good enough. We’ll just use their address.
Bo: [00:18:34] Well, I mean, just the fact that the address itself was different from the website to the contract is a little bit of a red flag.
Ryan: [00:18:41] Oh, for sure. And then you remember how I said that there was all these executives that were listed on the website, their names, their photos and whatever. Okay. So there’s no actual online bio of these people. You Google each of their names and no results pop up except for their mention on this one website. Right. Nobody has a LinkedIn. Nobody’s ever been featured in, you know, a trade publication. They’re just complete ghost. So whoever set up this website just ripped off random photos off the Internet. Well, what I did is I did a reverse image search on the CEO. Her name is Michelle Bailey. They claim to be right. I did a reverse image search. The photo was posted on Instagram. It was ripped off by some Russian fashion blog. And like her profile picture is her like holding like a Fendi bag. And in the background there’s like a billboard and Russian.
Bo: [00:19:34] And that’s that’s the CEO.
Ryan: [00:19:36] That’s the CEO. Yeah. In Canada [Laughter]. I don’t think so. So then there’s if you scroll down on the bottom of the website, you see it gives you the impression that Stream Records is affiliated with a bunch of different brands. There’s one called Mobi and TRKTR and ∏ (Pi) Music and E3Sounds, and the logos and names all look legit. But guess what? None of them are real companies.
Bo: [00:19:59] Yeah, I had a feeling that’s where you were going. Yeah.
Ryan: [00:20:01] Instead, they are just mock logo placeholders used by the website’s building platform, and then the site itself, you scroll all the way down, it says that it’s made by this certain site. And you click on that, and that website is just there, like standard template, like this is like a record label template site. So they had, they only changed their names and some pictures and you scroll down all the way to the bottom and guess what? Those four logos of the affiliates are there in the mock page.
Bo: [00:20:30] Wow. Yeah.
Ryan: [00:20:31] And you click on each of those links and the mock page in one of them, you click on Mobi, you click on it, it’s Google, you click on TRKTR. It’s like LinkedIn. They just put in fake links because it’s a placeholder. But again, it looks very legit.
Bo: [00:20:46] Man. So guess what was the idea there? Just the thought that no one would ever check.
Ryan: [00:20:52] Yeah. Think that on on first appearances, again, it looks really good and people aren’t going to dig too deep into, you know, who they’re working with.
Bo: [00:21:01] Damn, Ryan. You really did go full Nev and Max on this one. Mean had help.
Ryan: [00:21:06] I mean I had help. Our colleague, Olivia, performed some world class internet sleuthing.
Bo: [00:21:10] Well, but now you also said that there was a legitimate business entity incorporated in Canada. So there was. Yeah. So. So what’s up with that?
Ryan: [00:21:19] It gives you the best idea of who might actually be behind the scam. When you Google the corporate address of stream records, what’s listed with the Secretary of State in Canada, it’s none of the addresses that are posted on the website or the contract. It’s this location called 8 Falstaff Drive in Brampton, Ontario, which is a residence, right? So the officer listed there is Ramandeep Aujla. However, there is two other businesses that use that same address. One is Canada Inc., And and that was dissolved for non-compliance with Canadian corporate laws in 2015, a supposed scam. And then there was two other businesses 14507282 Canada Inc, you know, sounds legit.
Bo: [00:22:07] [Laughter] Exactly.
Ryan: [00:22:08] And then Deep Jandu Entertainment Inc., and it had two officers, Deepjot Singh and Parminder Singh, both at the same address. And each of those individuals are corporate officers of over a dozen other entertainment companies listed to the exact same address. So, yeah, it doesn’t look so great. It’s my sincere hope that this episode is the very first thing that shows up when artists Google this fake label so that no one else falls victim to their scam.
Bo: [00:22:38] Well, I can tell you that we will also be forwarding our findings to the Ontario Business Registry, the government agency that oversees business licensing, with a request to open an official investigation into this company. I mean, I know exactly how I’m going to start that email to, “Hey, neighbor, we have something you might want to take a look at here.” Yeah, for sure.
Ryan: [00:23:00] Kind of how, like we tell potential clients to take a look at our five star reviews because our clients just love us so much.
Bo: [00:23:06] Exactly, Ryan. Which is why we are the most successful lawyers in the history of human jurisprudence … Allegedly.
Ryan: [00:23:14] Well, that’s our show for today. Thanks for listening to the legal mastery of the highly intelligent and easily most attractive true legal outlawyers in Savannah, and remember, the only lawyers in the free world who have never lost a single case … allegedly. To continue to receive free edge of your seat legal anecdotes, mind blowing takes on hot topics, and a general masterclass in lawesomeness, please head over to bowenschmidt.com/podcast and see …
Bo: [00:23:34] Dude, enough scamming. Just click subscribe already.