Catch me if you can: UK man sentenced to 20 months in prison on 38 counts of defrauding music professionals worldwide

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gc@2xA 23-year-old man who has victimized numerous musicians, teachers and companies for more than six years was sentenced on Monday to 20 months in prison and placed under a restrictive court order for five years. He has stolen more than £30,000 ($50,000) of money, goods, and services in actions that have affected some of the leading professionals in the music field.

This man, Jack Moore, a British citizen living in Gloucestershire, has defrauded individuals and organizations in the United Kingdom, United States, and possibly elsewhere, operating under multiple aliases. With remarkable cunning, Moore has posed as a music copyist, orchestrator, or conductor, deceiving his victims by stealing their services and accepting money for work he did not perform.

This blog first reported on this matter in November 2013, at which point several investigations were underway. Police authorities had requested that details be withheld from publication at that time.

The projects with which Moore has been involved include musicals and films produced in the UK and continental Europe, including critically acclaimed theatrical productions and recording projects.

Moore has been apprehended by local authorities several times before and subsequently posted bail. However, the scope of his most recent crimes has, this time, led Moore to be sentenced to prison. He has already begun serving his sentence.

Pleading guilty to five counts of fraud by misrepresentation at Gloucester Crown Court, Moore admitted to fraudulently contacting 38 separate victims, and he asked for all of those offenses to be considered as part of his plea as well. He also appeared after using the bank details of one of his victims in order to purchase items fraudulently.

Moore used false names and e-mail addresses to obtain contracted work in the music industry. He then used further false details to contact persons in the music and printing industry to subcontract the work that he had agreed to complete. In his plea proceedings, Moore accepted that, in the majority of cases, he used the false details in order to avoid paying the subcontracted person.

According to the Gloucester Citizen, which reported the news on Monday, prosecutor Janine Wood said Moore had sent around 5,000 e-mails from fake accounts under false names. The investigation showed that while Moore has not made vast money from his crimes, it damaged trust amongst those in the music industry and left many of his victims out of pocket or unpaid.

In addition to the prison sentence, Judge Jamie Tabor authorized a serious crime prevention order against Moore — an action that the judge said was originally conceived by UK lawmakers with drug traffickers and gangsters in mind. To comply with the order, Moore must:

  1. Only use his real name when communicating via the internet and e-mail;
  2. Notify the police of any goods or services acquired via the internet or e-mail above the value of £300 (“services” include the sub-contracting of any work); and
  3. Notify the police of any change of name or address.

According to Detective Constable Mark Johnson of Gloucestershire Constabulary, the police believe that the order will be important in stopping Moore from re-offending. Moore is restricted by the order for five years.

Judge Tabor informed Moore that should he appear before the court again, he will receive a long custodial sentence. “I believe the offenses committed are serious,” the judge said. He told Moore directly, “why you did it I am not sure – and I suspect for the hell of it … you diverted the police from carrying out more important tasks.”

Detective Johnson said, “I truly believe that this is a rogue individual, and hope that with added caution the good faith” can continue among the community of music professionals. The detective and his colleagues have spent hundreds of hours looking into Moore’s crimes.

I became acquainted first-hand with Moore more than a year ago through a routine request received through my web site — but more about that in a bit later in this article.

An early start

Moore’s offenses date back at least to 2007, when he was just 16 years old. At that time, he posed as a producer and contacted composer James Lark. James’s show, “Tony Blair – the Musical” had just finished its premiere run at the 2007 Edinburgh Festival Fringe. As James recalled, “[Moore said] he was interested in producing a West End production [of ‘Tony Blair’].” James sent Moore a partial score in reply to his inquiry, but “fortunately I realized fairly early on that he wasn’t to be either taken seriously or trusted — apart from anything else, he was at that time still a minor.”

Later, “to my horror and embarrassment,” James said, “I discovered that he had sent my music to [professional copyist] Steve Reading to be printed professionally, even though I had given him no permission to do anything at all with it. I was further disturbed to hear that he had sent my music to one of Steve’s American colleagues, this time with his own name appended to it.”

Steve Reading, not realizing that he was dealing with unauthorized material, performed the services requested of him by Moore and billed £1,000 ($1,600) for his work. As Steve told me, “payment never arrived, or the check bounced, so I took him to the small claims court here in the UK. I discovered that he was a minor at the time, and therefore couldn’t be sued. However, I managed to contact the bailiff that was dealing with him, and found out that he was well known to the police, trading standards and the courts.”

In 2009, Steve sued Moore (by this time now a legal adult) and won, although, as Steve said, “It was a hollow victory,” in the meantime having learned of the music’s provenance and of Moore’s true identity.

Stealing from his teachers and employer

In 2011, Moore, who had attended Archway School in Stroud, found himself living with teachers who offered him lodging on an occasional basis after Moore’s family broke up and sold their home. In return for their generosity, the teachers, music instructor Peter Tims and head of computing Craig Sargent, found that Moore had stolen £2,600 ($4,100) using their bank and credit cards.

In addition to stealing from his teachers, Moore posed as various business customers, ordering more than £7,500 ($12,000) worth of Apple Macintosh computers from his former employer, Hardsoft Computers. Having sent invoices to the customers, Hardsoft was informed that the customers had never placed nor received the orders. Moore eventually auctioned the computers at a discount from retail prices. When I reached Craig Sargent to inquire about the case, he said, “I really can’t believe he [Moore] is still at it.”

Appearing in court on December 19, 2011, Moore ultimately plead guilty to the offenses and received a 10-month sentence. The sentence was suspended for two years, and Moore was ordered to complete 240 hours of unpaid community service.

The presiding judge at the time, Judge Jamie Tabor — the same judge before whom Moore has appeared recently — scolded the criminal, saying: “These offenses were not born out of necessity but out of greed. You stole from two people who had held out the hand of friendship to you and assisted you…they were mean, nasty offenses.”

Judge Tabor’s advice to Moore was prescient, but it ultimately went unheeded: “If you let greed overcome you again, you know exactly what is going to happen to you.”

Becoming Rupert Burke

Veteran music preparer Jill Streater told me, “Jack Moore is certainly already known to us in the UK.” She went on to mention that while she hadn’t “personally encountered this unpleasant guy myself,” one of her “younger colleagues in particular lost money to him earlier this year via a third real-life person who had no idea he was even involved, and another copyist was in touch a couple of years back about another case.”

Moore, seemingly, had hit upon a strategy. He would let his youth and inexperience work to his advantage by finding people willing to help him, either with an entrée into the professional music world or by, in Judge Tabor’s words, holding out “the hand of friendship.” Moore ingratiated himself sufficiently to acquire these people’s property (intellectual or physical) or their money.

In part by acquiring this access to people, content and money, he was then able to reasonably masquerade as a more experienced person with something to offer others — whether it was as a producer with a potential show in the West End, as a music preparer with work to subcontract, or as a reseller of computers.

There was just one problem: having been prosecuted and convicted, and having contacted more and more people, word of Jack Moore’s shenanigans began to get out. Janine Wood, the prosecutor on the current case, later said Moore “had not used his real name because nobody wanted to know him and nobody wanted to talk to him because of his convictions.”

So he invented an alias: “Rupert Burke”. Incredibly, Moore was involved with projects using this alias during the same time that he was being prosecuted under his real name for stealing from his teachers and employer.

An award-winning orchestrator I spoke with, whom I will call Henry*, recalls being approached by someone using the alias “Rupert Burke” in 2011. “He was quite young, and said that he wanted to forge a career in the music industry,” Henry recalled. “I decided to give him a shot on a new production” for which Henry was engaged to orchestrate, which was premiering at a well-regarded UK theatre.

“Rupert” provided Henry with work samples — samples that were quite likely someone else’s work product. Henry reviewed them, and on the basis of the quality of “Rupert’s” samples, hired him to perform some music preparation services for the show. “Some music copying, reducing orchestrations into a piano-vocal score, things like that,” Henry said.

“At first, the quality of the work was quite good. Parts were nicely formatted with well-placed cues. But then, as we approached the first band call, he started to become erratic,” Henry said. “I was getting parts back that were very poorly done; only two bars on an entire system, and other similar problems. I couldn’t believe that this work was the product of the same person who had delivered the earlier music. I asked him what was going on, and he made excuses. Once he told me that his brother was suicidal.”

At that point, Henry started to become nervous about getting the music on the stands in time. “I told him, ‘you know what, your family is more important,’ and I let him off of the project. I paid him a sum of money for his work and ended up staying up late nights to finish the work myself. I had initially intended to invite him to rehearsals and the band calls,” but of course that never happened once “Rupert’s” behavior became problematic.

Henry met “Rupert” once more after that. “He gave me some of his music, or what he said was his music, I think, seeking additional opportunities. Several colleagues contacted me to say that he had approached them for work. Apparently he had listed me on his web site, so they asked me for a reference. I never recommended him for anything, and hadn’t heard anything further about him until recently. The name ‘Jack Moore’ was never known to me.”

I told Henry that Moore was being prosecuted at the same time as the run-up to the opening of his new show. “That certainly could explain why ‘Rupert’ was often difficult to get a hold of,” Henry said.

About that web site where Moore had listed Henry’s name: The domain rupertburke.com was registered on May 6, 2012 by the same Stroud-based web design firm that had previously registered jack-moore.co.uk on February 21, 2011. The web site  at rupertburke.com touted “Rupert’s” supposed credentials. (The domain registration, along with the site, expired on May 6, 2013.)

The site said that “Rupert studied Music at Leeds College of Music. Since graduating, Rupert has been involved in many projects, both in the West End and nationally.” Among the credits listed were performances at Theatr Clywd, Crucible Theatre, Landor Theatre, Trafalgar Studios, and the Lyric Theatre.

Screenshot of rupertburke.com taken shortly before it expired on May 6, 2013
Screenshot of rupertburke.com taken shortly before it expired on May 6, 2013

I contacted an administrator at Leeds College of Music to determine if anyone named Rupert Burke had ever attended their institution. She replied: “I am afraid we do not have a record of a Rupert Burke on our system.”

Hitting close to home

Jack Moore first contacted me on February 10, 2013 — although, of course, I did not know it at the time. Impersonating a real, respected orchestrator named David Siegel, Moore contacted me through the NYC Music Services contact page seeking some music preparation and orchestration services. (David and I had not known each other previously, and I do wonder how events would have transpired if he and I had actually been acquainted prior to this series of events.)

From this initial inquiry and subsequent series of e-mails, over the next day I established my credentials and affirmed availability and interest in performing the work required. We agreed on a standard “page” rate for the services and that payment would be made within a specific time after the project was completed and the invoice sent. Potential clients contact me in this manner quite regularly, and in the often-rushed world of film music recording, it is not unusual to complete all of the work before receiving payment.

So I did not suspect anything to be out of the ordinary — and I certainly had no idea that the person with whom I was communicating was not who he said he was, but was later revealed to be Jack Moore. (From here on, I will refer to this person as “Moore”, although it was several more months before I suspected his real identity for the first time.) I had asked for a phone number to contact Moore in case any questions arose, and he replied that e-mail contact was best because he was traveling and working out of the country. I obliged and did not press further.

From then, a fairly ordinary sequence of events unfolded, in which I was invited to a Dropbox folder and completed work on a series of cues. (Much later I deduced they were for a score by an Oscar-winning composer to a French film released in the spring of 2014.) After working on that film I did another rather complicated transcription project involving voice and strings.

Because it was not entirely clear when the project(s) were ending (likely intentional on Moore’s part), there were times were cues were promised but never delivered, excuses made (he said he was ill), and other delays that prevented me from sending a final invoice.

When contact was finally re-established in early March 2013, we started right away on another project, for which I orchestrated 14 cues. (Later I discovered this one was a score to a documentary by an Oscar-winning director that was released just last month in the US.) All of the orchestrations for this and the other projects were completed in Sibelius 7. Shortly afterwards, I sent Moore a bill for more than $5,000.

Moore acknowledged the bill and promised payment within five days. Quite remarkably, Moore maintained contact with me for over a month, replying rather promptly to several inquiries about the status of the payment. Of course, no payment ever arrived, even though he assured me that a check had been sent. (I should note that mail does go missing with some frequency here in New York, so it’s plausible that a check could be lost in the mail.)

In any case, Moore said he would cancel the check and express a new one — but, would I be available for one more short project? The wisdom of my agreeing to be available is certainly debatable, but I did agree, and in April 2013 I made some lengthy but fairly simple string arrangements for a project that I later learned was for a top London music producer. At this point, the total bill for my work reached $6,500.

While being in the realm of the believable up to this point, things now started to take a more bizarre turn. After affirming payment was sent via overnight service, Moore neglected to provide a tracking number upon my request. Eventually he asked that I contact his wife, “Julie” for the tracking information and actually provided an e-mail address for her.

When I contacted “Julie,” incredibly, I received a reply saying that the payment had been sent that day — again, with no actual tracking number provided. This e-mail from “Julie” was the last contact I had with Moore.

Having not received payment, I located a phone number for David Siegel, and called him the evening of May 3, 2013. David, as you can imagine, was genuinely puzzled my by call, having never heard from me before. I, in turn, was astounded at his puzzlement — how could this person not know who I was after all this time?

Of course, the real David Siegel and I had never communicated before that evening. We eventually realized, surreally, that I had been duped by someone pretending to be him.

Once that was established, David told me that some months prior, he had been contacted by someone in the UK who was interested in obtaining his orchestrations for a musical. David got as far as sending some sample files and a contract to this individual. Eventually no agreement was finalized and their contact broke off.

This was quite possibly the first time that Moore crossed the dangerous line from inventing aliases borne of his imagination to impersonating real people. In retrospect, it may very well have tripped him up for good.

Discovering and arresting the culprit

The same evening I spoke with David, stunned, I began to review the files I had worked on over the past several months. Keep in mind: at this point, I had never heard of Jack Moore and had no idea about the actual identity of the person for whom I had been working — only that he had impersonated David, a real orchestrator.

Eventually, by combing through the metadata in the Sibelius, Logic, and PDF files that were part of each project, I identified the names of the projects I had worked on. Working through the night, I was determined to discover the common link among them.

Was it another composer? A music editor? A producer? It was like trying to solve a Rubik’s cube where almost all the squares fit. Just when I thought I was closing in on a match, though, I kept finding outliers which forced me to turn back in search of a different solution.

Eventually I came to learn of a London-based composer, orchestrator and arranger whom I will call John*, and all the tumblers clicked. John’s Twitter feed specifically mentioned the documentary’s recording sessions at precisely the time I had worked on that same project; the file from one of the Logic sessions had John’s first name in it; and other things fell into place.

There was only one problem – from what I could tell, John seemed like a highly respectable individual. His profile was out in the open, he had legitimate credits and credentials, and he had even done a workshop for Sibelius with the British Film Institute a few years ago.

Even in the late hours where anything could have seemed possible, I had serious trouble believing that John was capable of such deception. I contacted a highly respected colleague, whom I thought was likely to know John, to tell him of this still-unfolding story and to ask for a reference. My colleague assured me that John was unquestionably trustworthy.

That left me with a new theory, which ultimately proved to be correct: John had contracted out some of the orchestrations for which he was responsible (an acceptable industry practice). The person he had hired must have been the same individual who had been deceiving me all this time. I further presumed that John had no clue that this individual had been in touch with me, nor anyone else, about these projects.

The next morning (May 4) I contacted John and also spoke by phone to his manager. After a series of exchanges among the three of us, John confirmed that he had indeed hired someone to help him with recent work.

That individual’s name? Rupert Burke.

As John told me the next day after he and I made initial contact: “Rupert first approached me wanting to gain experience as an orchestrator, so on a number of occasions I asked him to provide a MIDI transcription service which involved preparing cues for me in advance by taking the basic MIDI information from a Logic file and transferring it into a Sibelius template that I would provide.”

Of course, John had no idea what had been happening with those files once he had sent them to Rupert. After all, “Rupert” had delivered the orchestrated music to John — the same music I had provided to Moore — and, the tasks having been completed, John paid “Rupert” for his work.

After I communicated with John, he tried contacting “Rupert” to ask him about the discoveries we had made. By this time, though, “Rupert’s” phone service had been cut off, and “Rupert” did not reply to e-mail. John never heard from “Rupert” again.

“Reading it sends shivers down my spine because of the length of deception that he has gone to,” John said to me upon reviewing the complete e-mail trail that I had provided to him. “I noticed on at least one occasion he has actually used the text from an e-mail that I sent to him, but substituted the name ‘David,’ to describe what he’d like you to do [with the music files].”

Moore operated under two aliases simultaneously as the work product got sent around
Moore operated under two aliases simultaneously as the work product got sent around

I began to suspect that “Rupert Burke” might itself be an alias. Soon we began to learn more from colleagues about Jack Moore, a man that had established a pattern of fraud against others in the music industry and was known to the authorities. In particular, music director and composer Francis Goodhand was aware of a number of his colleagues that had been victims of Jack Moore’s activities. Francis proved invaluable, providing information and support at a critical time.

We began to deduce that “Rupert” was actually Moore. Within a week, David, John, and I all gave statements to the Gloucestershire police, eventually leading to Moore’s arrest on May 23, 2013. That set off a series of developments that culminated in his guilty plea and prison sentence one year later for this and all of his other offenses.

The aftermath, and lessons learned

Hindsight is what it is. In the immediate days and weeks after turning the matter over to the police, I felt foolish for so easily being duped. Learning that I was merely one of dozens of victims eased that feeling somewhat, but then I felt sorry for all the others that had been unfortunate enough to be caught up in Moore’s schemes.

I’m grateful for the extensive work that was led by Detective Mark Johnson and Police Constable Rob Bolland, and for the regular communication that they both provided over the past year. And without Francis Goodhand’s doggedness, it’s quite possible that the trail leading to Jack Moore would have gone cold.

I don’t ever expect to recoup a penny of the unpaid invoices, and I was never offered any compensation or credit for the projects in which my orchestrations ultimately appeared. It’s a fate that befell many of Moore’s victims who worked long hours on tight deadlines — some of whom may still not know for whom, or on what projects they had worked — denying them not only earnings, but also an opportunity for legitimate recognition.

Still, it’s heartening to know that Moore was pursued, caught, and sentenced to prison.

What could I have done differently? It’s tough to say. If I had demanded a retainer before commencing work, I likely would have avoided the whole fiasco, but that would have also been uncustomary in the world of last-minute gigs. Still, I’m now more cautious about accepting projects, and indeed have generally insisted on at least a portion of payment upfront, especially with new or unfamiliar clients.

Our industry is one that relies on an individual’s reputation. Any actual person conducting himself in the manner that Moore did would find it difficult to get repeat work. But Moore circumvented that problem by inventing multiple aliases.

Surely Jack Moore could have netted a more lucrative payoff in more “mainstream” hacker activities. So why did he target those of us in the relatively obscure fields of film music and theatre? Steve Young, Moore’s defender, said: “I have asked him several times why, and he has said it was boredom. He will end up losing his liberty, but he has gained very little.”

There’s no doubt Moore is a criminal who deserves to be punished, but I can’t help thinking of Frank Abagnale. He’s the con man whose life was dramatized in (ironically) a movie and musical called “Catch Me if You Can”, and who now works as a legitimate security consultant. Abagnale was enticed by the glamour of pretending to be a pilot or doctor. I suspect Moore was enamored with whatever romantic notion he perceived working in an orchestra pit or on a music preparation desk.

With all the cleverness that Moore showed in forging identities and stealing information, I wonder what would have become of Jack Moore had he focused his efforts on actually acquiring the skills necessary to transcribe and arrange music. He’s still young. Once his sentence is over, maybe someone will accept him as a student – provided he pays in advance.

In the meantime, perhaps the prison library has a few textbooks that can help.

*Certain names have been changed at the request of the individuals referenced herein.

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Comments

  1. Jamsire

    Philip – this is the most amazing entry I have ever read of yours.

    THIS story belongs on a show like “American Greed.”

    OH MY GOODNESS!!!!!!

    Ernie

  2. Neil Sands

    Bloody hell Philip!

  3. Robert Puff

    Wow. What is really intriguing about your story, Philip, is that this turd picked a relatively quiet niche portion of the music industry to defraud, one where there is generally a fairly high level of trust, which allowed him to take advantage.

    Hopefully, this article serves as a word to the wise – a business reminder that with new clients, unless client and contractor have a mutual trusted friend or business acquaintance, regardless of your field, never do more work in advance of payment than you can afford to lose.

    In closing, hopefully a good detective t.v. series theme will bring a smile. Written by Dave Grusin and Morgan Ames, and performed by Sammy Davis, Jr. with the El Chicano band, here is the theme from the mid 1970’s US television show “Baretta”.

    1. Philip Rothman

      Thanks all for the remarks, and Robert, for that excellent 70s TV theme :-)

  4. Danny

    Wow, what a story.

    Something very similar happened to me in 2011. Reading this, I am shocked by how similar the details are, though I am almost completely sure it could not have been the same individual.

    Here’s an account of it that I posted at the time: http://www.trumpetherald.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=108717&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=22

    I have since written a musical about the whole ordeal.

    Oh and what a coincidence–the last project he claimed to have worked on as an orchestrator was the Broadway musical version of “Catch Me If You Can”.

    1. Philip Rothman

      Danny: That is stunning. I just read through the thread. There are eerily similar details, yet it seems to be someone operating entirely from within the US. Wow. I’m sorry you had to go through that.

  5. Leo Nicholson

    Philip, thanks for sharing your personal experience of Jack Moore. I haven’t heard from Mark Johnson for a while, but wasted a fair few hours preparing transcriptions for a “Will Salthouse” who turned out to be Moore.

    Let’s hope that’s the end of that…

  6. Simon

    My arranging experience with Moore was with ‘Sarah Smith’ in 2008. Once I located the media group who had used him through an obscure character name in the script for the show, they were happy to give me all his details and following a threatening call from the Musicians’ Union he paid me my invoice (about £500 I think) with interest. Unfortunately while I thought he’d learn from the experience being young, it seems it just spurred him on (: I’m afraid there may be more out there like this…

    1. Philip Rothman

      Simon: Thanks for sharing. I’m sure there are many more affected beyond the 38 whose cases were ultimately brought before the court.

  7. Anonymous

    I was in the same year at secondary school with this guy. He always seemed friendly and nice to peoples faces but there was always some sort of darkness in him. He bullied people in such a way that they didn’t even realise it. He was an expert manipulator, always turning people against each other, to get him what he wanted. Somehow he made a whole group of people bully this one person in his friendship group. It was almost like he enjoyed watching other peoples unhappiness.

    I think the school could have done more with stopping people like this. Our head of year loved him, and always let him get away with anything. He was a golden boy in her eyes.

    1. Philip Rothman

      Thanks for sharing this info.

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