Burning money by Sean Williams
When it comes to being a celebrity, fame and fortune are some of the perks of the business. Unfortunately, that fame and fortune also tend to attract people that do not have the celebrity’s best interest in mind. Celebrities are vulnerable to falling for financial scams just like anyone else and they are often bigger targets because of their bigger bank accounts. Here are six of the most painful financial scams experienced by celebrities.
1. Ben Stiller – $250,000 Loss
Comedian Ben Stiller trusted financial advisor Dana Giachetto, who served as a stockbroker to the stars in the 1990s, to manage his money, but Giachetto turned out to be a crook. In addition to siphoning $250,000 from Stiller’s accounts, he also stole from other A-list clients, including Courteney Cox, Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Affleck, and Matt Damon. In all, Giacchetto was accused of misappropriating between $5 million and $10 million of his clients’ money. He was sentenced to three years in prison for his crimes and was released in 2003.
2. Kiefer Sutherland – $869,000 Loss
24 Hours star Kiefer Sutherland spent $869,000 investing in the cattle industry through steer roper Michael Wayne Carr, who convinced him to invest in selling steers. However, Carr was never in the steers business and put Sutherland’s money directly into his checking account. In the end, Carr faced several felony charges and was ordered to pay his victims, including Sutherland, nearly $1.6 million.
3. Uma Thurman – $1 Million Loss
Actress Uma Thurman lived to regret working with financial planner Kenneth Starr. The tricky financial planner took advantage of most of his clients in one of the worst financial scams experienced by celebrities, diverting $30 million of his clients’ money for his own use. While Thurman lost about $1 million, he also scammed Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes, Al Pacino, David Blaine, and Martin Scorsese. In 2010, Starr was arrested, convicted, and sentenced to 7 ½ years in prison for his illegal financial activities.
4. Sting – $9.8 Million Loss
Musician Sting hired financial advisor Keith Moore to handle his portfolio of more than 100 accounts, but Moore was more interested in stealing from him. Over 15 years, Moore took roughly $9.8 million from the accounts and invested it in various business ventures or spent it on luxury items. In 1995, Moore was sentenced to six years in jail for the theft.
5. Billy Joel – $30 million Loss
Music legend Billy Joel lost $30 million through a scam perpetrated by his ex-brother-in-law Frank Weber. Weber, who acted as Joel’s manager at one time, was also a former close friend and godfather to his daughter. He siphoned the money from Joel’s accounts to fund several investments that made Weber wealthy. Joel filed suit against Weber in 1989 suing for his $30 million loss and $60 million in punitive damages. According to reports, Joel only got $8 million back.
6. Robert de Niro – $88 Million Loss
Actor Robert de Niro has an extensive painting collection done by his late father and decided to sell 50 artworks through art gallery owner Lawrence Salander. The paintings sold well but Salander used the money to pay his own debts instead of giving it to de Niro. Salander’s art scams targeted other A-listers as well, netting him $120 million total. In 2010, Salander was charged with his crimes and sentenced to six to 18 years in prison.
Celebrities are just as vulnerable as ordinary people when it comes to being the victim of a predatory scam. The financial scams experienced by celebrities only differ in the amount that crooks are able to siphon from their targets. To avoid becoming a victim of a financial scam, it is important to do your research on any offered financial opportunities and be skeptical of any deals that seem too good to be true.
Toi Williams began her writing career in 2003 as a copywriter and editor and has authored hundreds of articles on numerous topics for a wide variety of companies. During her professional experience in the fields of Finance, Real Estate, and Law, she has obtained a broad understanding of these industries and brings this knowledge to her work as a writer.