By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)
Thieves hit a camera rental facility, according to a post on REDUser Forums. Not that long ago, Blackmagic’s Freemont, CA HQ was broken into, and nearly $2 million in cameras was stolen. This time, the victim is the OFFHOLLYWOOD rental house, who rented a set of expensive ARRI Primes out before they realized the culprits were using stolen IDs.
“Recently OFFHOLLYWOOD was the victim of fraud – and sadly, we had 5 Master Primes and an Alura 30-80mm Zoom stolen by folks using identity theft. Be careful out there folks.” – Mark Pederson, CEO OFFHOLLYWOOD on the REDUser Forums
Having just recently become an authorized RED dealer, OFFHOLLYWOOD has been stocking up on higher grade camera lenses to rent as part of bundled camera packages for the RED Weapon camera platforms. OffHollywood doesn’t go cheap on their glass either, with rentals on various ARRI primes and Fujinon zooms. That’s where the thieves scored.
But they didn’t break into the facility like the previous Blackmagic job. This time, the thieves used identity theft to create bogus IDs in order rent a set of five ARRI Master Primes and a Fujinon Alura Zoom. By the time OFFHOLLYWOOD figured out the scheme, it was too late. The lenses were gone.
Here’s what they got away with …
- 18mm Arri Master Prime
Serial Number 8952845
OFFHOLLYWOOD Barcode Number 6832
- 35mm Arri Master Prime
Serial Number 8953840
OFFHOLLYWOOD Barcode Number 6833
- 50mm Arri Master Prime
Serial Number 8952498
OFFHOLLYWOOD Barcode Number 6834
- 75mm Arri Master Prime
Serial Number 8953215
OFFHOLLYWOOD Barcode Number 6835
- 100mm Arri Master Prime
Serial Number 8928040
OFFHOLLYWOOD Barcode Number 6838
- 30mm-80mm Arri / Fujinon Alura Zoom
Serial Number 6370304
OFFHOLLYWOOD Barcode Number 6838
According to Pederson, OFFHOLLYWOOD believes that the lenses aren’t in the country anymore, and have made their way to the United Kingdom. They have hired a British private investigator who has managed to track them down through a series of shell corporations including one called “Broadcasting Shield” based in the UK.
“There has been a MASSIVE rise of thefts by folks using fake production companies,” said Pederson on the REDUser Forum thead. “(They) secure legit insurance policies (that don’t cover fraud) and then use identity theft.”
Pederson then stated with this kind of crime wave hitting rental houses, it becomes even more important for companies to vet their new clients if they aren’t known entities, with a reputation in the community. Users are wise to solicit trade references, and other information with which to verify the renter’s identification is legit.
“For everyone’s security, we require all members to have a valid state photo ID, a mobile phone number, as well as pass automated identity verification.” – ShareGrid.com
It certainly is a scary proposition, especially when you consider the recent trends towards the shared economy, where filmmakers are listing their gear through sites like CameraLends and ShareGrid, which I use. They have launched an automated identity verification system. This includes second factor authentication, and the keeping of all relevant documents on file including scans of your driver’s license, passport, and even the last four digits of your social security number.
Meanwhile, OFFHOLLYWOOD is asking anyone with a lead to contact them through email at Aldey (at) offhollywoodny.com. You can also follow the story on the forums here. It’s stuff like this that makes it just that much harder to rent the gear we all need for our projects. And it makes it more costly, too. I hope they find the bad guys quickly and get their lenses back. Man it sucks that this happens.