Queenstown police are warning the public about a mother-and-daughter talent agency which has triggered multiple complaints in New Zealand and Australia.
Police intelligence analyst Sean Drader says cops from outside the Wakatipu have contacted him about Australians Sandi Alexander, 43, and daughter Courtney Elice, 20.
Court papers reveal they are living at a Dalefield address.
“It’s been brought to my attention that our community might be susceptible to the kind of scam that’s alleged,” Drader says.
“I’ve got a concern that there might be a scam going on with them because of the number of complaints.
“At this stage it’s unclear [if] what they are doing crosses the line into criminal activity but we’re interested in knowing about any dealings people have had or are having with them – and not just police here [are interested] but police throughout the South Island.”
Alexander and Elice first came to media attention in Australia after allegations they’d fled to NZ leaving disgruntled parents and businesses out of pocket.
The Sunshine Coast News reports that it has had 17 complaints about the pair’s jointly-owned Tabitha Talent Manage-ment since its first story last October.
Aussie allegations include outstanding bills ranging between $2000-$4000 and angry parents stumping up hefty registration fees – only to find Tabitha difficult to contact afterwards.
The Tabitha two turned up on Kiwi soil last August, operating from a Christ-church base but also placing adverts for aspiring star talent in Nelson, according to The Press.
Kiwi parents and wannabes soon became suspicious of Elice and Alexander after they claimed little was being done once they’d coughed up $255 for photos and profiles for a casting website.
Complaints were laid with media and police.
After a barrage of bad publicity, Elice and Alexander are now believed to be going under the name “TV New Zealand Talent Management”.
Early this week the Tabitha website said this business is now being run by one Phil Asher and has nothing to do with Elice or Alexander. As of yesterday, neither the Tabitha nor the TV NZ Talent Management websites can be accessed.
At least one complaint has been made to NZ’s Commerce Commission, and Australia’s Office of Fair Trading is also investigating.
Police in this country have received talent agency complaints linked to Elice and Alexander from people in Dunedin, Christchurch and Nelson – but again no criminal charges have been laid.
Dunedin detective Neville Aiken has been quoted elsewhere saying it’s unclear whether laws have been broken.
“People have their concerns, they went to auditions and paid money up front,” he says.
“It’s always buyer beware.”
However, Alexander faces charges of forging an Australian passport in September 2009 and appears in the Christchurch District Court on Monday – she’s pleading not guilty. Passport forgery carries a maximum sentence of seven years jail or a $100,000 fine or both.
On January 20, Elice and Alexander were nabbed in Queenstown for alleged drink-driving and failing to stop. Police believe the pair had both been driving the same vehicle at some point in the night so both were breath-tested.
They turned up to Queenstown District Court on Monday to request their cases be transferred to Dunedin where they’ll appear on February 11-12.
Mountain Scene left several messages for Elice and Alexander but neither woman called back.