CALIFORNIA (ABC News) – A Los Angeles man has surrendered to the FBI after he allegedly collected $14 million in a scam from investors for a fraudulent Netflix feature film involving several notable Hollywood figures.
Adam Joiner, 41, allegedly used fake documents and forged people’s signatures to raise millions of dollars for a movie called “Legends,” which he described as “an anachronistic mash-up of legendary and historical figures from nineteenth century America, such as Davy Crockett, Calamity Jane, Paul Bunyan, and John Henry.”
According to a press release from the Department of Justice, the scheme allegedly began in 2015 when Joiner met with the director of a Korean investment firm and gave him a script for “Legends,” which he said was written by his brother. Joiner is accused of falsely telling him that Netflix had agreed to distribute his film in an effort to secure money from the investment firm, and supported this claim by showing him a falsified distribution agreement that appeared to be signed by a Netflix executive.
As a result, the investment firm agreed to invest $8 million in the project and transferred the first half of the money in April 2016 to Dark Planet Pictures, Joiner’s production company.
Not long after Joiner received the first $4 million from the Korean firm, he did the same thing again with a Chinese company, this time securing $6 million in June 2016, authorities said.
Having secured $10 million, Joiner updated them with the claim that prominent Hollywood figures, including producer Don Murphy, known for films like “Natural Born Killers” and the “Transformers” series, had agreed to work on the “Legends” project.
While Murphy had in fact been retained to produce the film and secure a distribution deal, he allegedly terminated the agreement in 2017 with Joiner when he saw that no talent had been secured and no director had committed to the film.
Joiner then told his foreign investors that he had terminated the agreement with Netflix, and, instead, made a new deal with Amblin Partners — all of which was bogus, according to executives at Netflix and Amblin.
The false Amblin Partners agreement, however, was enough to secure the second half of the $8 million investment from the Korean firm, and that money was wired over to Dark Planet Pictures in early 2017, according to the Department of Justice.
When Joiner’s investors began inquiring as to why the “Legends” project was not going as planned, he reportedly gave them a series of excuses, according to the criminal complaint filed Aug. 13. Joiner also allegedly showed his Korean investors a forged bank statement to prove he could pay them back in full.
However, when the FBI began investigating Dark Planet Pictures, the agency discovered $5 million had been used to buy Joiner’s Manhattan Beach home and another $4.3 million had been moved to a separate bank account that could have links to a different film in development by Joiner.
Joiner is now facing charges including wire fraud, money laundering and aggravated identity theft. If found guilty, he could serve up to 32 years in prison.
Joiner is expected to make his first court appearance Wednesday in Los Angeles.
(This story was originally published on August 28, 2019)