In today’s day and age, there are plenty of scammers out there lurking about. With the development of technology and sophisticated computer software, scammers can get their hands on your dough by hiding behind a screen. Others are in plain sight, might befriend you, and might unwittingly get you to hand over certain details and put your trust in them. These scammers are often pros at what they do – we don’t want to give them any plaudits, but let’s face it, they are pretty clever.
Celebs – or rather, their money – aren’t untouchable either. Just because they sit on a pedestal, scammers see them as easy marks. More fame means more money, more cash to steal, and a greater scam to profit from. And it’s unlikely that celebs take care of their own cash. They hire people to look after their finances for them. As you’ll learn as you go through this list, it’s very often these people, the people these celebs hold in a position of trust, that essentially stab them in the back. It truly is amazing to see how much cash some of these celebs have lost as a result of scams. You’d think they’d be more careful with their money. But sometimes it’s not a case of just being careful – many of these scammers are pretty sophisticated. These are 15 celebs who’ve fallen prey to scams, who were probably made to feel pretty stupid after getting scammed out of their cash.
15 Mike Tyson
Iron Mike Tyson was once regarded as the baddest man on the planet, and probably still is, although he’s mellowed down a bit since he hung up his gloves. The guy was fierce in the boxing ring, and was an all-round crazy individual. Some of his antics were hugely entertaining, but questionable, to say the least. He may have been entertaining, but let’s face it, Mike wasn’t exactly the sharpest tool in the box. Being a heavyweight fighter and getting punched in the head for a living probably didn’t help matters. His wild ways have been well documented. By his own admission, he’d never had money, so when he started earning millions, he had no clue what to do with it. He’d splurge on anything and everything, and eventually ended up financially destitute. But it wasn’t just his spending that landed him in financial difficulty. He was also scammed by those he thought were in his corner. Over the course of around a decade, boxing promoter Don King scammed Tyson out of millions. The matter was settled out of court. Incidentally, King was also sued by other boxers, including Muhammad Ali and Lennox Lewis. It’s amazing that King’s still involved in the boxing industry.
14 Cindy Crawford
American model and actress, Cindy Crawford was scammed by a man who tried to earn her and her family’s trust. He succeeded in earning their trust, and then used this to his advantage to extort money from them. Rande Gerber, a German model, not only scammed them for money, but he used blackmail and intimidation tactics too. Rande had apparently gotten his hands on a photo of Cindy Crawford’s daughter, who was seven at the time. It was a photo of the young girl trussed up and gagged, one that he’d obtained from the family’s former nanny. The situation in which the girl ended up in that predicament was pretty innocuous. They’d been playing a game of cops and robbers, and evidently the girl was the one getting robbed. The nanny innocently took a picture to remember the occasion, but it fell into the wrong hands. Rande first wanted around $1000, then increased his demand to $100K, if Cindy didn’t want him to give the photo to the media. The scammer and blackmailer was eventually nabbed by the authorities and spent time in jail.
13 Jennifer Aniston
Some people really don’t stop to think about the consequences of scamming people. Jennifer Aniston is one of the world’s most loved actresses. She’s got a ton of cash, and a strong legal team at her beck and call, and plenty of other savvy people in her corner. If she wants to find something out, it’s not going to be hard for her to do so. That’s what she did when she found out she’d been getting scammed from her – wait for it... hairdresser, of all people.
Maria Gabriella Perez was a hairdresser to the stars. She owned a salon in Beverly Hills, one that was frequented by the likes of Jennifer Aniston and Liv Tyler. But Maria was prone to taking too much off the top. Over many years, she stored their credit card details, and went wild with her spending, racking up crazy charges. It was a secret service agent that actually discovered what she was up to and brought her to justice. “Not cool,” was all cool cat Jen Aniston had to say on the matter.
12 Ben Stiller
As we have already mentioned, actors very rarely take care of their own finances. They’re short of time, lead hectic lifestyles, and are earning megabucks, so most hire financial advisors to handle their finances, especially superstar actors like comedic genius, Ben Stiller. You’re not going to find him doing his books after a long day out shooting.
Dana Giacchetto was a stockbroker to the stars. He lost his stockbroker license as a result of defrauding his celebrity clients out of millions of dollars. Dana is no longer with us; he was found dead in his apartment in 2016. Ben Stiller was one of Dana’s biggest clients. Being a big fish meant there was more money to scam. Dana ended up scamming Stiller out of $250,000. Dana was eventually figured out and was sent to prison.
11 Kim Kardashian
Kim Kardashian is without doubt the most famous socialite on the planet. She’s a woman who’s famous for being famous, but she possesses a savvy business acumen too. Kim and her family know what works, and know what people want to see. They’re very successful businesswomen in their own right. They’ve therefore been raking in the cash over the last decade, and are probably one of the most well-known and wealthiest celebrity families around. Kim gets a tremendous amount of love, but it also means she has to deal with plenty of hate that comes her way. There are also criminals who want to target Kim; recall that Paris robbery last year? A couple of years before that terrifying ordeal, she had to deal with being targeted by fraudsters. A woman from Florida, Kyah Green, and her 19-year-old son, Luis Flores, stole around $70K from Kim. They started off their criminal activities stealing checks, but soon graduated to the big fish, stealing cash from celebrities. Using Kim’s details, they made a number of wire transfers, and Kim was left out of pocket. The duo was later convicted, and it was discovered they had the details of numerous other celebrities too.
10 Robert De Niro
Can you believe that someone actually had the audacity to scam this guy?! Well, you best believe it, because it did happen. I’m surprised that Robert De Niro didn’t go all Goodfellas and set Joe Pesci on the scam artist! The scam artist in question is someone who’s already featured on this list – a slimy deceitful schemer would probably be a more apt term to describe him by the name of Lawrence Salander. He was a scam artist and took to scamming people in the art trade. De Niro had a collection of 50 paintings which were left to him after his art enthusiast father passed away. He decided to sell the collection, and turned to gallery owner Salander to make it happen. Salander did make it happen, but pocketed the $88m sale. He actually used it to pay off his own debts, and De Niro didn’t see a dime.
9 Anne Hathaway
Actress Anne Hathaway doesn’t have a great record when it comes to dating guys. One of the men she’s dated turned out to be a serious scam artist, who wasn’t only content on being with the megastar actress, but wanted her money as well. Raffaello Follieri used religion to entice his unsuspecting property investors, then duped them and made off with their cash. He took the guise of a representative from the Vatican in the United States. Then he started working his scam. He claimed he was looking for people to invest in properties belonging to the church. Plenty put their hard-earned cash into the investment, including his girlfriend at the time, Anne Hathaway. A lot of people would think Anne was seriously dumb. That’s because she didn’t just invest, she became a financial donor and headed the board of Follieri’s organization. Their relationship and the organization’s dealings came to an abrupt end when the IRS started doing some digging. Follieri went to prison and was deported from the United States.
8 Liv Tyler
Quite a lot of people on this list can blame their financial advisor, but Liv Tyler can’t really do that. That’s because the superstar actress wasn’t conned out of cash by her financial advisor. She was scammed by her dermatologist, of all people. Mari Gabriela Hashemipour was a dermatologist to the stars. She was a skin expert, someone celebs used to flock to when their skin needed rejuvenating. You can imagine that she demanded a pretty hefty price for her work. But evidently, she got greedy. Mari was a skin expert who stored her client’s credit card details and used them to fund her ill-gotten gains. Liv Tyler’s manager eventually noticed something fishy was going on. He realized that Liv had been charged for things that she didn’t purchase, and subsequently everything was straightened out.
7 John McEnroe
When celebs, especially athletes, retire, a lot of them sit around twiddling their thumbs, wondering what to do next. A career as an athlete is pretty short, so you’ve got to get into something else to make your money work for you after retirement. Former tennis player, John McEnroe, hasn’t really had that problem. He’s heavily involved in the media side of things, and has been keeping busy. But he was still looking for something else to sink his teeth into. So, he thought, "Why not venture into the art dealing world?" He could certainly afford it. He started off by investing in some art pieces, and sought the help of Lawrence Salander. Salander sold shares to McEnroe, and essentially scammed the investor. He didn’t own the shares, and the ones he did, he sold several times. McEnroe put $2 million into the investment, money which he apparently never saw again.
6 Uma Thurman
Actress and model, Uma Thurman, is a celeb who got scammed as a result of a Ponzi scheme. Obviously, the guy hadn’t seen Kill Bill before he decided to rope Uma into the scheme! Kenneth Starr was Uma’s financial advisor. His advice was basically garbage because Kenneth was a con artist. He promoted a Ponzi scheme to Uma, and made off with around $30m. You may think Uma was dumb to get caught up in such a scheme. But it was she who can actually be thanked for bringing his cunning ways to light. She’s one celeb who actually does keep on top of her earnings. When Uma noticed millions were missing from her account, she confronted her financial advisor. Starr actually paid her back so she’d think everything was okay. But Starr wasn’t just an advisor to Uma. He had several other celebrity clients, and when Uma confronted him, this got other people talking, and soon plenty began to realize that all was not okay. Starr was eventually caught, pleaded guilty, and did jail time.
5 Kiefer Sutherland
Read this and you’ll think that actors could fall for anything. Kiefer wasn’t scammed by his financial advisor or anything like that. But he was scammed by Michael Wayne Carr, a businessman who was in the business of scamming.
Kiefer didn’t have his savvy Jack Bauer hat on from 24 when he chose to invest in Carr’s business. The two never actually met, but despite that, Carr persuaded Kiefer to invest $869,000. What was the business? Carr was going to buy a load of cattle in Mexico, and essentially sell them on in the U.S. at a profit. But there were no cattle, and no business. After Kiefer wired him the cash, he did a disappearing act. When he was caught, Carr admitted that he’d doctored the paperwork to trick the unsuspecting actor. He was lucky that he got his money back after the courts ruled in his favor.
4 Elton John
Elton John is known for his lavish spending. The guy doesn’t do things by halves. It’s why the world loves him. But because of this spending, you may think that he’d have a hard time tracking all of his purchases. He was also going through a pretty dark period in his personal life when the scam took place. He was hooked on alcohol and drugs, and you can add having an eating disorder to that, too. But when $29 million disappears from your account, you know about it, even if that's just pocket change for Elton. Who had the audacity to take Elton for that eye-watering sum of cash? It was his management company, Andrew Hadyon and Pricewaterhouse Coopers. Actually, this management agency was never actually found to be guilty. But from Elton’s point of view, the scam took place. He took them to court in what was a long and highly-publicized legal battle. Either Andrew Hadyon and Pricewaterhouse Coopers were extremely cunning, or Elton was seriously mistaken, because there was little evidence and the case was eventually dismissed. To add insult to injury, Elton had to shell out for his legal fees, estimated to be in the region of $10 million!
3 Kevin Bacon
In the celebrity world where people are seemingly getting divorced left, right, and center, it’s pretty amazing to think that actor Kevin Bacon and his wife, Kyra Sedgwick, have been together since the 80s. Throughout this period, they’ve been through a hell of a lot together, but they’re each other’s rock, and so they have always gotten through these issues and are still standing. But one major down moment was when they fell victim to that infamous Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme. A ton of people were affected, and by Kevin’s own admission, many had it worse than them. But losing $100 million isn’t a small amount of money, even to the Bacons. For a long time, the couple thought that the money was gone for good. They didn’t think they’d ever see a dime from the scam again, but luckily their fortunes changed. The high-publicized trial which brought Madoff to justice also saw the Bacons reclaim some of their cash.
2 Steven Spielberg
This Bernie Madoff character really was a piece of work. His 150-year jail term was well deserved. Madoff got his claws into the finances of a number of celebrity figures. Kevin Bacon was one of them, and legendary director, Steven Spielberg, was another one who was duped by the so-called financial advisor. Madoff claimed he could make Steven’s money work for him, but he made it work for himself, not for Spielberg. Scamming people out of their hard-earned money is, of course, a despicable crime. But what made this a truly abhorrent act is that Madoff took the funds from Spielberg’s charitable foundation. Spielberg’s one of the biggest philanthropists on the planet, but Madoff drained his finances that were meant for the charity, the Wunderkinder Foundation. As a result, the charity closed down. We are sure you’ll all agree that Madoff’s the lowest of the low, and is where he belongs.
Sting is undoubtedly one of the world’s best-selling musical artists. Even at the ripe old age of 66, Sting is still doing his thing. As a result of his mega stardom, Sting’s never been short of a dollar or two. In fact, it’s thought that his net worth is in the region of $300 million. That figure’s certainly music to a scam artist’s ears. Sting uses this money wisely, donating heavily to charitable organizations. He’s one of the biggest philanthropists out there, which makes the fact that he was scammed even more of a heinous act.
A lot of people would deem Sting to be pretty dumb when they find out that he was systematically having his cash stolen over a period of 15 years. That is a pretty long time, and $10 million is a lot to go missing before noticing something’s wrong. But these financial advisors are cunning people. His advisor opened 100 bank accounts, and over the course of 15 years, systematically transferred cash from Sting’s account into these other accounts. After 15 years, Sting finally clocked what was going on.