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Independent source tells Variety Media that 'Doe' defendant has been sought by FBI

Variety Media said on Tuesday that an anonymous online impersonator of Variety editor-at-large Peter Bart is the subject of criminal complaints and has been pursued by the FBI.

The company sued the impersonator last week in Los Angeles Superior Court, listing the figure as a “Doe” defendant. The impersonator had been sending email messages under the name of Bart using the address “peter@peterbartproductions.com.” Some of the emails announced press conferences and placed requests for advertisements with Variety vendors, none of which were legitimate.

Variety also has received email messages using the email address “itsjustsomebodysomewhere@gmail.com,” and the alias “Chris Hepburn.” Variety Media said that sources have informed the company that the same person has used the aliases “Patrick Austin,” “Jonathon Blair” and “Chris Kell.”

Variety Media also said that it received information from an independent source that the impersonator was the subject of criminal complaints and an FBI investigation for harassing others.

“We have no reason to believe any of the statements that this person has made either on his websites or in the email messages regarding Variety, Mr. Bart or any other public figures,” said Variety publisher Michelle Sobrino. She said that messages from the e-mail addresses used by the impersonator should be disregarded and that Bart’s valid e-mail address is Peter.Bart@variety.com.

Here is the complete press release from Variety Media:

Variety Media, LLC (“Variety”), a leading digital media and publishing company, announced today that it received information from an independent source regarding the anonymous online impersonator who was named as a “Doe” defendant in a lawsuit that Variety filed last Tuesday.  Variety is informed that the impersonator has been the subject of criminal complaints and has been pursued by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Michelle Sobrino, Publisher of Variety, said, “It is unfortunate that Variety’s Editor at Large, Peter Bart, has been impersonated online.”

Variety’s complaint, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court last Tuesday, alleges that the online impersonator sent e-mail messages to the media, under the name of Mr. Bart using the e-mail address peter@peterbartproductions.com.  The complaint also alleges that some of the e-mail messages purport to announce press conferences to be conducted by Variety and purporting to place requests for advertisements with Variety’s vendors.  Variety has received e-mail messages from the perpetrator using an additional email address: itsjustsomebodysomewhere@gmail.com and the alias “Chris Hepburn.”  Variety has learned from sources on the Internet that the same person also has used the aliases “Patrick Austin,” Jonathon Blair,” and “Chris Kell.”

“Please disregard any messages from the e-mail addresses that the impersonator used and understand that none of them are authorized by Mr. Bart or Variety.  Mr. Bart can be reached at his valid e-mail address, which is: Peter.Bart@Variety.com,” Mrs. Sobrino added.

Variety now reports that it received information from an independent source indicating that the perpetrator was the subject of criminal complaints, as well as a long-running FBI investigation, for harassing others.  “We have no reason to believe any of the statements that this person has made either on his websites or in the e-mail messages regarding Variety, Mr. Bart or any other public figures,” Mrs. Sobrino concluded.

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