Hundreds of fans duped.
Reggaeton superstars rarely make it to Hardeeville, S.C. So last month, local music fan Richard Martinez gladly forked over $100 at the door for a Daddy Yankee concert that had been advertised on local radio.
But after a three-hour wait, Daddy Yankee was nowhere in sight. Martinez and other witnesses say a woman selling tickets then got into what she claimed was the rapper's limousine and screeched out of the parking lot with the money.
When the hundreds of fans in attendance caught on to the scam, all hell broke loose. "They were about to burn the club down. They started throwing bricks, glass, everything at the club," Martinez says.
That melee followed one of the latest alleged scams reported to law enforcement by management for Daddy Yankee, who is not currently on tour. Bergen County, N.J.-based prosecutor John Molinelli has issued an arrest warrant for a suspect -- believed to be in the Dominican Republic -- who received a wire transfer of $100,000 to produce Daddy Yankee for a recent concert in New Jersey.
"They're definitely allegations against the same person," Molinelli says, referring to a possible connection among incidents in South Carolina, New Jersey and three other locations.
A statement on Daddy Yankee's Web site provides an E-mail address for fans to report suspected fraud. "Every day there are new scams," Yankee publicist Mayna Nevarez says. In October, says Nevarez, investors for a Daddy Yankee date in New York were ripped off for $75,000; more recently, a San Antonio investor called before sending money to Daddy Yankee's management for a non-existent concert.
Unlike in Latin pop and regional Mexican, which have longer touring histories and more established relationships between venues, management and promoters looking to make money on reggaeton concerts often literally don't know who they're dealing with, Nevarez and others say.
In the South Carolina case, the club owner and the president of the local Spanish-language radio station say they were shown a performance contract that turned out to be fake. "They really did a number on us," says Esperanza Ebersole of Radio Sol, which ran promos for the Daddy Yankee show in exchange for a promised cut of ticket sales. "And we got nothing."
The difference between a legitimate booking and a fake one can be a bit slippery. Javier Perez, who manages up-and-coming reggaeton act Alexis & Fido, says promoters often jump the gun and advertise a show lineup before all the deals have closed.
"It happens all the time. You'll see 10 artists being announced, and three show up," Perez says. He recalls a promoter trying to lure him into booking Alexis & Fido on the promise of a bigger act's participation—even when the supposed headliner was not scheduled to perform.
For now there are no plans to assuage disgruntled Daddy Yankee fans with a South Carolina concert. "I know it's not his fault, but it would be nice," Ebersole says. "Not for free, [but] maybe half price."