Is mysterious "Rebecca" backer a fraud?

Ensemble members perform during a dress rehearsal for the musical "Rebecca" at Vienna's Raimund Theatre on Sept. 18, 2006. AP

It's the stuff of Tony-winning Broadway dramas: Efforts to bring a popular story to the Great Way Way collapse when a mysterious backer appears to have been a fraud.

Only it's that real-life scenario that is causing a ruckus on Broadway this week. A producer who had hoped to bring the psychological thriller "Rebecca" to Broadway as a musical now believes the troubled show was the victim of a giant fraud.

The planned New York production was postponed indefinitely earlier this week amid a growing suspicion that one of its primary investors didn't actually exist.

A secretive businessman named Paul Abrams had supposedly pledged $4.5 million to the show, only to suddenly die of malaria.

Now, a lawyer for "Rebecca" producer Ben Sprecher says he believes the mysterious Mr. Abrams was fictitious.

He says someone staged an elaborate ruse with forged documents and bogus correspondence to make Sprecher believe he was dealing with four potential investors in the show, none of whom were real.

The FBI is investigating.

Based on a 1939 novel by Daphne du Maurier, "Rebecca" is about about an English woman driven mad by the ghost of her new husband's late wife. Alfred Hitchcock also made it into a successful film.

The musical has been presented in Vienna and other European cities in recent years.

  • CBS News Staff

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