Q. How do you get your own back on estate agents? A. Make them the villians in CSI

A married couple are suing the makers of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, claiming that a writer of the hit TV series deliberately named two shady, sex-obsessed characters after them in revenge for a home sale that fell through.

Estate agents Scott and Melinda Tamkin want $6m (£3.75m) for defamation and invasion of privacy, after their names were given to a fictional pair of bondage-loving property entrepreneurs in a CSI episode entitled "Deep Fried and Minty Fresh".

In a lawsuit filed at LA County Superior Court this week, the husband and wife duo recall how they fell out with Sarah Goldfinger, a writer and producer responsible for that episode of the series, after she tried, and failed, to buy a house from one of their clients in 2005.

Goldfinger later attempted to publicly humiliate them, the couple claim, by "creating from whole cloth" characters named after them, who "engaged in a reckless lifestyle of sexual bondage, pornography, drunkenness, marital discord, depression, financial straits and possibly even murder".

The CSI episode in question, which aired in February, sees police forensics experts investigate whether the recently deceased Melinda died at the hands of her husband Scott, a mortgage broker who drinks heavily and spends most of his free time watching violent pornography.

Goldfinger gave the fictional couple the surnames Tamkin in both her script and synopses of the episode that were posted online, the lawsuit claims. She also stands accused of telling casting agents to send dark-haired actors who resembled the real-life couple to auditions for the roles.

The Tamkins, whose website touts their "hard work, honesty and ethics", say they first found out about the smear when Scott "Googled" his own name, and stumbled upon several CSI "spoiler" sites. He was particularly shocked to see pages discussing the fictional couple's kinky sex practices, many of which carried links to pornographic websites.

CBS, the show's broadcaster, immediately agreed to remove the plot synopses when Scott contacted them. They also agreed to have the characters' surname changed to "Tucker" in the version of the show that was finally broadcast.

However, a lawyer for the couple, who have three children and specialise in selling eco-friendly family homes in upmarket areas of Southern California, told the Los Angeles Times that the damage had already been done, since "spoiler" sites had carried the original names for five months. The "11th hour" change was "for all intents and purposes an admission that [Goldfinger] had stepped over the line".

Any potential client who did an internet search for the Tamkins' real estate company during the intervening period and came upon the description of the characters in the CSI synopsis would have been "highly unlikely" to "ever have contacted them and wanted to retain them as a professional real estate agent", claimed the lawyer, Anthony Glassman. "In this business, you never know why the phone doesn't ring."

The lawsuit, which was lodged on Friday, names a host of defendants, including Sarah Goldfinger and CBS, along with Jerry Bruckheimer, the Hollywood action movie impresario whose firm produces CSI, and Goldman Sachs, the finance company which bankrolled the episode in question.

None of the accused parties have yet commented on the case. However the extraordinary success of the CSI franchise means that whatever their defence, it will be difficult for them to play down the potential reach of the episode in question.

CSI, which follows police forensics teams investigating murders, is set in Las Vegas, with spin-off versions in New York and Miami. The three shows reach 50 million people in the US each week, and are syndicated to 200 countries, with a total audience estimated at two billion.

The phenomenal success of the show, which has been criticised for some of its violent and sexual themes, means there are hundreds of fan sites dedicated to the show, many of which carry detailed debates about the real-life crime stories and characters who have inspired each episode.

Goldfinger has worked on CSI since 2003, three years after it launched, and met the Tamkins in 2005 when they were representing the owners of a home in west Los Angeles that she was attempting to buy.

Glassman said that Goldfinger pulled out of the deal during "escrow", when a deposit has been paid but contract negotiations are typically still ongoing. However he said their business dealings were "just a normal interaction between potential buyer of a home and a real estate agent representing a seller".

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Dunne, played by Ben Affleck, finds himself at the centre of a media storm when his wife is reported missing and assumed dead

Arts and Entertainment
Lindsay Lohan made her West End debut earlier this week in 'Speed-the-Plow'

Arts and Entertainment
Artist Nathan Sawaya stands with his sculpture 'Yellow' at the Art of Brick Exhibition

Arts and Entertainment
'Strictly Come Dancing' attracted 6.53 million viewers on Friday
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant plays Detective Emmett Carver in the US version on Broadchurch

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor goes undercover at Coal Hill School in 'The Caretaker'
Arts and Entertainment
Ni , Rock of Rah, Vanuatu: The Ni live on one of the smallest islands of Vanuatu; Nelson flew five hours from Sydney to capture the 'isolation forged by their remoteness'
photographyJimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style
Arts and Entertainment
David Byrne
musicDavid Byrne describes how the notorious First Lady's high life dazzled him out of a career low
Arts and Entertainment
Sergeant pfeffer: Beatles in 1963
booksA song-by-song survey of the Beatles’ lyrics
Arts and Entertainment
music'I didn't even know who I was'
Arts and Entertainment
Cheryl was left in a conundrum with too much talent and too few seats during the six-chair challenge stage
tvReview: It was tension central at boot camp as the ex-Girls Aloud singer whittled down the hopefuls
Arts and Entertainment
Kalen Hollomon's Anna Wintour collage

Arts and Entertainment

TV Grace Dent on TV
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer is believed to be playing a zombie wife in Patient Zero

Arts and Entertainment
Mark Gatiss says Benedict Cumberbatch oozes sex appeal with his 'Byronic looks' and Sherlock coat
Arts and Entertainment
Clothing items bearing the badge have become popular among music aficionados
musicAuthorities rule 'clenched fist' logo cannot be copyrighted
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson will star in Seth MacFarlane's highly-anticipated Ted 2

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in 'Gone Girl'

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
    The magic of roundabouts

    Lords of the rings

    Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
    Why do we like making lists?

    Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

    Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
    Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

    A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

    As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
    Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

    Paris Fashion Week

    Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
    Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

    Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

    One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
    10 best children's nightwear

    10 best children's nightwear

    Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
    Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

    Manchester City vs Roma

    Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
    Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

    Trouble on the Tyne

    Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
    Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

    Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

    and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
    Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

    Last chance to see...

    The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
    So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

    Truth behind teens' grumpiness

    Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

    Hacked photos: the third wave

    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?