An Antelope Valley woman has been charged with fraud for allegedly deceiving seniors by telling them they could appear in remakes of the 1981 films "On Golden Pond" and the 1985 movie "Cocoon" and using their personal information to pocket unemployment benefits.
Dena Peterman, 32, of Littlerock, is named in an eight-count indictment, accusing her of stealing Social Security numbers and other personal data from seniors to commit unemployment insurance fraud, according to the U.S. attorney's office.
Federal authorities believe Peterman defrauded about $500,000 from the California Employment Development Department.
She faces conspiracy, aggravated identity theft and mail fraud charges. Peterman's arraignment is set for Friday.
Peterman allegedly targeted seniors in Oregon and California by obtaining their personal information after telling them they had an opportunity to be cast in the two Hollywood movies.
One of her victims told authorities he interviewed with a movie company representative, who visited a senior center in Sweet Home, Ore., looking for actors, according to an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court.
The company offered $60 to seniors who supplied them with personal information to star in the remake of "Cocoon."
After gathering their information, she created Nine Maid Movie Production, Western Film Animation, High Desert Productions and 13 other film businesses – all of which were sham companies with alleged dealings in the movie industry, the document stated.
She submitted bogus wage information and unemployment insurance claims for the seniors, claiming they had worked for her companies.
Believing the seniors were unemployed, the state provided benefits. But the senior never received any benefit. Instead, unemployment insurance benefits were mailed to Peterman, according to court documents.