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A Tom Petty scam by a real-life heartbreaker tricked a wealthy Amazon.com executive out of $165,000, a criminal complaint asserts.
Amazon senior vice president Brian Valentine, 52, went online (where else would an Amazon executive go?) to book Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers to play at his wedding last month, The Smoking Gun website reports. But instead, Valentine got played himself.
When Valentine discovered the alleged fraud, he apparently decided "I Won't Back Down," as Tom Petty himself might say. So Valentine called in private investigators and the FBI.
The Tom Petty scam allegedly conned customers with a website that claimed to book various artists like Petty, Kansas, and Ludacris, The Smoking Gun reports.
A man named Chad Christopher Lund ran the site called "LundLive," and allegedly wrote up a $330,000 contract for Petty's performance at Valentine's wedding. Valentine coughed up $165,000 as a deposit.
Lund then told Valentine to "work out the logistical details" with Petty's production manager, according to The Smoking Gun. But Lund gave Valentine contact information that turned out to be fake.
Lund was arrested and charged with three counts of federal wire fraud, according to the complaint. Wire fraud charges can involve any fraudulent scheme that uses interstate "wires," such as phone lines, the Internet, TV, or radio.
In wire fraud cases, prosecutors must generally prove that wires were crucial to the unlawful scheme. Lund's three charges are based on his alleged use of email to negotiate and to procure a contract, and his use of fax transmissions to wire Valentine's $165,000 to himself.
If convicted of the Tom Petty scam, Lund could potentially face decades in federal prison. As for Brian Valentine, he eventually got the real Tom Petty to play at his wedding; Petty even called Valentine and his new bride "the nicest people in the world," The Smoking Gun reports.