As common people, we are often intrigued by the lives of celebrities and wonder if they go through the same or even similar issues as us. Moreso, it becomes hard for us to digest when news highlights a celebrity becoming a victim of a fraud scheme or getting swindled of finances. For us, celebrities are the highly aware people with a fleet of security that deters any sort of mishap in their life, let alone a scam.
But, much to our dismay, celebrity fraud not just happens but is quite common globally.
While celebrities lead a glamorous life and are surrounded by the best of advisors, their status, wealth and high-tech protection do not insulate them from hoaxes that plague the security world. In fact, the reason that A-list celebrities are always in the spotlight makes them vulnerable and easy targets of fraudsters. Many entertainers, TV hosts, and journalists have fallen prey to illegitimate incidents in recent years.
This nature of fraud makes it pervasive and dangerous, with the capability of affecting anyone, anywhere, anytime. In this article, we take a look into some of the most celebrity scams that penetrated their lives and defrauded the A-listers in the worst way possible.
1. Nidhi Razdan
Probably the worst known celebrity case of cybercrime, that reflected how tempting opportunities for even the most learned, could be a trap.
Journalist Nidhi Razdan became the victim of an elaborate phishing scam, that proposed a fake opportunity for her to join Harvard as an Associate professor. The seriousness of this scam resonated with her public decision to leave her 21-year old career behind to teach journalism at Harvard.
It happened in the year 2020 when NDTV’s senior journalist Nidhi Razdan attended and spoke at an event organised by the Harvard Kennedy School. She was even contacted by one of the event’s organizers to consider for a teaching vacancy at Harvard. Going by Harvard’s reputation, she submitted her resume and was interviewed a few weeks later for the profile. Up until now, it all seemed legitimate. To her surprise, she received an email allegedly from the HR of Harvard, confirming her recruitment, with an offer letter and agreement. The documents had the name and stamps of all the Harvard signatories and appeared genuine. More so, her former employers were also marked in separate emails for recommendation letters, only to confirm the originality of the alleged job. She even received class schedules, subject details and a detailed breakup of the classes.
Nidhi Razdan announced on national TV about her new opportunity and quitting NDTV on a respected note. The suspicion started when she did not receive her work visa and her salary was not transferred as promised. It was only when she wrote to the Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, that she heard back they had no record of her appointment.
Much to her shock with the entire incident, she realized, even though late, that she was a part of an elaborate phishing scam, meant to steal her personal details.
Attacking a senior media person and swindling her of her financial information requires sophistication in technical and digital knowledge. Looking back in hindsight, Nidhi Razdan regrets not doing much due diligence and falling prey to a phishing scam masquerading as a tempting opportunity.
2. Sunny Leone
Bollywood actor Sunny Leone was the latest to join the victims of identity theft. In a series of alleged loan scams on the fintech platform of Dhani Stocks limited platform, her pan card details were misused to take a loan of Rs 2000. The incident messed up her CIBIL score, while the actress claimed that Dhani Stocks did nothing to resolve the matter or take action to avert the potential risks in future.
3. Sunita Gowariker
Sunita Gowariker, the wife of revered film-maker and producer Ashutosh Gowariker, registered a complaint of losing over Rs 1 lakh from her credit card. She claimed to have received a message about an unaccounted expenditure of Rs. 1,34,333.08. Upon questioning her manager, he denied any record or details of the expense.
Her incident reflected the classic example of why you should always guard your credit card information at all times.
Any person can become a victim of scams in physical and digital spaces. And when we think of celebrities, the wealth and fame drive vulnerability, inviting manipulative and intelligent frauds to breed and steam their finances, as well as reputation. With the level of visibility in celebrity life, scammers and con artists have an opportunity to gain more wealth. And when celebrities do get scammed, the one thing that is certain is the massive scale of monetary loss and reputation loss that befalls them.
However, with a little more vigilance and due diligence, scams of any level can be detected, prevented and deterred. Phishing detection apps such as FinLock may help you to prevent such scams and monetary losses.