'Southland' Star Sued Accused of DEFRAUDING Movie Investor

3/27/2013 12:15 AM PDT

'Southland' Star C. Thomas Howell Accused of DEFRAUDING Movie Investor

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"Southland" star C. Thomas Howell concocted an elaborate scheme to swindle $220,000 from a film investor -- using fake bank accounts and forged documents -- this according to a new lawsuit ... but Thomas tells TMZ he's a victim too.

Blackacre Entertainment filed the suit in L.A. Monday, claiming Howell and two other defendants asked them to invest $220,000 for a film called "Bite" ...  money which Howell said was necessary to shake loose $11 MILLION in funding for the flick.

BE claims Howell assured them it was legit and the $$$ would be returned in 30 days ... plus $66,000 for the trouble.

But BE says they never saw a dime ... and it was all a giant scam.

BE claims Howell tricked them with forged docs, a fake bank account (which showed an $11 mil balance), and phony conference calls between BE and phantom Bank of America managers.

BE is suing for $286,000 plus punitive damages.

Howell tells TMZ ... he has filed his own lawsuits regarding the case -- claiming he was duped into raising the $220k by a fraudulent third party -- and had NO IDEA it was a scam.

He says he has contacted the FBI to investigate the case.