HOUSTON – It was a friendship Dr. Mikenah Vega would come to regret.
She said she met a man named Jay Lopez last month. She said he told her he was a Hollywood producer/director who moved into her building near the Galleria to shoot a movie that was starring actor George Clooney.
"He had over 750,000 followers on Instagram," Vega said. "He had, like, photo shoots and stuff like that and he looked like someone who was legit."
But Vega has since learned that man is not Jay Lopez, but a man named Jonathan Yost, who is accused of conning people across the country. A sheriff's office in North Carolina, which says Yost duped a church out of $9,000, is just one agency on his trail.
Deputies there said Yost is a multi-state offender and that he's facing charges in Ohio, as well.
Yost convinced Vega and a group of friends to pony up about $5,000, promising jobs as production assistants, $70,000 to $80,000 in salary, and union benefits for working the Clooney flick, but they had to pay him first to obtain their union cards.
"He took money online," Vega said. "But said he didn't get it and then took it again in cash."
When contracts weren't produced, the group called Yost to the carpet and he then simply disappeared. Now, Vega, who said she was at first embarrassed to be a victim, spoke in an effort to end what she described as Yost's highly produced scheme.
"The only thing I can do is try to find justice for all of us," Vega said. "And be that voice at the end of the day."
The investigation surrounding Yost now involves multiple agencies including the Secret Service, Houston Police Department and the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office in North Carolina.