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".

Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
Arts and Entertainment
TV
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Former Communards frontman Jimmy Somerville
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne as transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl
filmFirst look at Oscar winner as transgender artist
Arts and Entertainment
Season three of 'House of Cards' will be returning later this month
TV reviewHouse of Cards returns to Netflix
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford will play Rick Deckard once again for the Blade Runner sequel
film review
Arts and Entertainment
The modern Thunderbirds: L-R, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon and John in front of their home, the exotic Tracy Island
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
film review
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Bytes, camera, action: Leehom Wang in ‘Blackhat’
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Libertines will headline this year's festival
music
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Dean Anderson in the original TV series, which ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992
tv
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
    Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

    What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

    Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
    The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

    Setting in motion the Internet of Things

    British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
    Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

    Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

    Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
    Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

    Cult competition The Moth goes global

    The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
    Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

    Pakistani women come out fighting

    Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
    Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

    Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

    The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
    LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

    Education: LGBT History Month

    Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
    11 best gel eyeliners

    Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

    Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

    After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot