Former Wedding Photographer Indicted in Pornography Fraud Scheme
Dozens of KC-Area Women Duped into Rehearsing for Fake Pornography Movies
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a former wedding photographer in Raymore, Mo., has been indicted by a federal grand jury as part of a federal investigation into a fraud scheme to dupe dozens of women into having sex – which he recorded – under the guise they were rehearsing for a pornography movie.
Mario Ambrose Antoine, 33, of Raymore, was charged in a 21-count indictment returned under seal in the U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Mo., on Oct. 12, 2016. That indictment was unsealed and made public following Antoine’s arrest and initial court appearance today. Antoine remains in federal custody pending a detention hearing on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016.
The federal indictment alleges that Antoine created a succession of various online aliases in which he posed as a talent manager, photographer and videographer for fictitious companies such as “Playboy Worldwide,” “Playboy Asia,” “Dash Agency,” and other companies that he claimed managed private overseas pornography websites. Beginning in August 2011, Antoine allegedly “auditioned” dozens of victims throughout the greater Kansas City area as models for prospective employment with these fictitious businesses by inducing them to engage in sexual and pornographic activity.
Antoine allegedly promised to pay his victims tens of thousands of dollars for entering into contracts for these modeling shoots and engaging in this sexual activity, which entailed auditions in which the victims performed various sexual activities with Antoine, which he recorded.
Antoine presented his victims with forged and false documents to add an appearance of legitimacy to this scheme, the indictment says, including falsified and forged checks issued to other “models,” IRS tax forms, Department of Homeland Security employment forms and various other documents. Antoine falsely registered several Internet domain names, the indictment says, and created false Facebook profiles.
After many of these victims complained they had not been paid as promised, Antoine allegedly forwarded images of this sexual activity with these victims to their employers and significant others.
On Nov. 12, 2015, Antoine allegedly conducted Google searches for “rape by deception,” “rape by deception kansas,” and “illegal to trick girls into sleeping with you,” and viewed websites and law journals regarding the criminality of committing rape by fraud or deception.
The federal indictment charges Antoine with 12 counts of wire fraud, two counts of cyberstalking, two counts of online enticement, two counts of making false statements to federal law enforcement agents, one count of obstructing justice, one count of extortion and one count of the false registration of a domain name.
The federal indictment cites six victims of the alleged scheme (identified as Victims 1 through 6).
The indictment alleges that Antoine promised to pay Victim 1 $1,000 per shoot and produced numerous images and videos of their sexual activity in 2011 and 2012. However, Victim 1 never received any payment from Antoine. In April 2015, Antoine allegedly told her that, in exchange for not selling or distributing the previously produced images and videos of their sexual activity, Victim 1 could either pay him $9,000 or she could come to Antoine’s house and have sex with him. On April 7, 2015, the indictment says, Victim 1 drove to Antoine’s residence to have sex with him in lieu of the payment of $9,000 to avoid the distribution of the pornographic images and videos.
According to the indictment, Antoine sent approximately 15 photos of Victim 1 to Victim 2 in March 2015. Using the alias “Nikki,” he told Victim 2 that the images instead portrayed “Nikki,” who had been paid $24,000 for three 30-minute photo shoots. “Nikki” also told Victim 2 that the images would be sold overseas “so nobody here even knows about it.” Antoine allegedly promised to pay $2,000 to Victim 2 for an “audition” and she engaged in sexual activity with Antoine, which he recorded.
Victim 3 engaged in sexual activity with Antoine in May 2015, the indictment says, which he recorded by taking photographs and making a video recording. When Victim 3 complained to Antoine in August 2015 that he she had never received the payment for her modeling activity, Antoine allegedly sent some of the nude images of Victim 3 taken during the recorded sexual activity to her employer.
According to the indictment, Antoine promised to pay Victim 4 $2,000 for “auditioning.” On April 24, 2015, Antoine allegedly produced and retained images and video recordings of his sexual activity with Victim 4. Between April and July 2015, Victim 4 contacted Antoine numerous times to receive payment, which never occurred. Beginning in June 2015, the indictment says, Antoine (assuming the online alias as “Nikki”) engaged in flirtatious communications with Victim 4’s ex-boyfriend and informed him that Victim 4 and Antoine were now in a relationship. Antoine also allegedly sent messages through the Facebook alias “Dalton Wayne” to Victim 4, referring to her pornographic photos being released and attaching a nude image of Victim 4 to one of the messages.
On May 26, 2015, Victim 5 traveled to Antoine’s residence for sexual activity, which the indictment says was recorded and retained by Antoine, after communicating with Antoine using the Facebook alias of “Nikki.” On Oct. 30, 2015, Antoine, as “Nikki,” sent a series of messages via Facebook to Victim 5’s boyfriend. Antoine informed Victim 5’s boyfriend “she does porn” and suggested that was how she was able to pay for her car. On the same day, Antoine, as “Nikki,” sent images of Victim 5 engaged in sexual activity with Antoine to Victim 5’s boyfriend.
In June 2015, Antoine communicated with Victim 6 using the Facebook alias of “Nikki.” Antoine allegedly sent Victim 6 some of the pornographic images of Victim 1 and claimed that the images instead depicted “Nikki” and that she received thousands of dollars for the photo shoot. On June 18, 2015, Antoine allegedly promised to pay Victim 6 $2,000 as “base compensation” and $8,000 as “special compensation” for “additional productions.” Antoine allegedly produced and retained images and video recordings of his sexual activity with Victim 6.
According to an affidavit filed in support of the original criminal complaint (also filed under seal and made public today) Antoine was released from state custody in a separate and unrelated criminal matter on Sept. 10, 2016. Since that time, the affidavit says, he has actively worked to obstruct the due administration of justice in the course of this ongoing criminal investigation. The federal indictment charges Antoine with the obstruction of justice related to this conduct.
On Sept. 27, 2016, Antoine contacted a detective with the Raymore Police Department, according to the affidavit. Antoine allegedly told the detective that a federal agent told him he should be able to retrieve the equipment seized by law enforcement because the FBI was not pursuing this matter any further. Antoine also allegedly claimed that his attorney had reviewed the search warrant and told Antoine it was “improper” and Antoine’s equipment should not have been seized. Antoine provided the name of a specific Kansas City criminal defense attorney, who later told investigators that he doesn’t have an attorney-client relationship with Antoine and had not spoken with him in years. The affidavit also states that Antoine may have created and used a fictitious e-mail account to impersonate the attorney.
The investigation is ongoing as authorities are still identifying additional victims. Anyone who believes they have been victimized by Antoine is urged to contact the FBI at 816-512-8200.
Dickinson cautioned that the charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Patrick D. Daly and David A. Barnes. It was investigated by the FBI, the Raymore, Mo., Police Department and the Office of the Missouri Attorney General.