HOLLYWOOD—The Los Angeles Police Department arrested Johnny Ray Gasca on multiple accounts of grand theft on July 17. Gasca was accused of scamming renters by pushing back move-in-dates and refusing to fully refund security deposits and first month’s rent.
Gasca posted an advertisement for a room for rent on Craigslist. When interested renters contacted him, he would ask for and collect a security deposit and the first month’s rent. Citing a death in the current tenant’s family, Gasca would tell renters that the room would not be available on the contracted date.
The LAPD Blog reported that Gasca would come up with various excuses until the victims demanded their money back. Many of the victims never received a full refund. Detectives have reason to believe Mr. Gasca continued to similarly defraud victims in the Hollywood area.
Before his arrest in July, Gasca was sentenced in 2010 to seven years in prison for sneaking camcorders into movies and selling pirated films. According to Variety, he was convicted in June 2005 on three accounts of copyright infringement. He calls himself the “Prince of Piracy.”
The FBI reported on its website that Gasca has a long criminal history including petit larceny, assault with intent to cause serious injury with a weapon after shooting someone in the face with a handgun, and spent time in a New York prison. When he arrived in Hollywood in 2002, he’s pirate movies by hanging around theaters where advance screenings were scheduled. He would pose as a movie industry insider and “rig his camera to the arm rest for stability…and start filming when the lights went down.”
Gasca noted in a diary that he was able to earn close to $4,500 a week from pirating movies including “The Core,” “8 Mile,” and “Anger Management.” He was charged in 2003 and became the first person ever indicted on federal charges of movie piracy, states the FBI.gov website.
LAPD officials are seeking additional victims of Gasca’s renting scam. Additional victims who may have not reported the incident are asked to contact Hollywood Detective Aluotto at (213) 972-2929 or Detective Childs at (213) 972-2930. During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (877-527-3247).
Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call the LA Regional Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477) or go directly to www.lacrimestoppers.org. Tipsters may visit ww.lapdonline.org, and click on “Anonymous Web Tips” under the “Get Involved-Crime Stoppers” menu to submit an onlinetip. Tipsters may also download the “P3 Tips” mobile application and select the LA Regional Crime Stoppers as their local program.