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Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorcese: the two famed directors were among the Hollywood figures that conman agent Robin Price claimed to have had connections to.
Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorcese: the two famed directors were among the Hollywood figures that conman agent Robin Price claimed to have had connections to.
Image: Matt Sayles / Ian West, PA

Fake Hollywood agent conned over £500k from hopeful authors

Robin Price promised his clients film and book deals if they handed over cash up front, and lied about Hollywood connections.
Mar 31st 2011, 3:51 PM 806 0

A FORMER MANAGER at an English cinema has been jailed for six years after he was found guilty of swindling hopeful authors out of hundreds of thousands of pounds, claiming to boast major Hollywood connections.

Devon man Robin Price, 51, had persuaded clients to hand over as much as £500,000 for his time as he assured them that he was working on having their works adapted for the big screen.

He had told his clients that he had connections with well-known Hollywood names like Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorcese, Dustin Hoffman and Johnny Depp – claims ridiculed yesterday in Exeter Crown Court.

Prosecution counsel Andrew Oldland claimed Price was a “confidence trickster” who had set himself up as a literary agent with modest fees, before then charging his clients major upfront payments for getting their works adapted for movies.

He said, according to the Daily Mail:

He maintained he knew well-known names in the film industry both on the production and direction side and acting side in the USA and UK.

He would drop big names such as Spielberg and Scorsese and actors like Sam Neill and Tom Cruise and many others.

The frauds had gone on over a decade, with one writer – OBE recipient Cecil Humphrey-Smith – paying Price a total of 622 different payments, totalling just over £293,000 across that period.

The court heard that Humphrey-Smith, a pensioner in his 70s, had re-mortgaged his house and borrowed money from his friends in order to maintain Price’s “services”.

Another woman – whom Price convinced to give up a career as a teacher, and to work with him unpaid for five years – said she wanted to kill herself, the Guardian adds, when she learned of Price’s true efforts.

Price had insisted that his efforts were genuine, and that his lack of success did not mean he was a fraud. His counsel argued that Price was a “broken, destitute” man who lived off £4 a day in a bedsit with just his cat and dog for company.

The court was told, however, that Price had forged letters from Sky and other TV production companies to convince his clients he was having success.

Telling Price – who pled guilty to six counts of theft – that he had lived a “Walter Mitty lifestyle”, Judge John Neligan sentenced him to six years in jail.

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Gavan Reilly

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