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Cyber Scams: 5 Cases of Celebrities Falling For Online Frauds

May 21, 2024
Posted by Andre Marion
Celebrities victim of cyber scams

In this digital era, where even the layman knows better than to click on a suspicious link, it's rather amusing—if not a bit disconcerting—to find that some of our most glittering stars have been caught in the web of cyber scams. 

Yes, these individuals who, with their army of assistants, managers, and resources, you'd expect to be impenetrable to such digital traps. 

The sagas of these five celebrities serve as a reminder to CISOs. If individuals with nearly unlimited resources can fall prey to scams, your organization's cybersecurity awareness measures must be robust.

We hope these stories are more than merely an opportunity for a chuckle but also a cautionary tale to foster discourse on how even the most fortified can falter—and how you can learn from their missteps as the guardians of your company's digital fortress.

1. Noel Edmonds

Corrupt financiers engaged in a £245 million loan fraud between 2003 and 2007. These financiers pushed business customers into distress or failure by referring them to turnaround companies and burdening them with unmanageable debts and fees. As a result of this fraudulent activity, several small businesses were destroyed, and the criminals spent the profits on high-end adult entertainment and luxury holidays.

Noel Edmonds' former business, Unique Group, was severely impacted by this fraud, leading to its destruction. The scam caused immense distress to Edmonds, who sought compensation for the losses suffered due to his business's collapse. Lloyds Banking Group reached a financial agreement with Edmonds, reportedly worth around £5 million.


2. Cristiano Ronaldo and Jorge Mendes

The soccer player was scammed out of €288,000 by a travel agent named Maria Silva between 2007 and 2010. 

The travel agent earned Ronaldo's trust to gain access to his banking information and charged for around 200 trips that he had no knowledge of. She reportedly carried out the fraud by getting clients to transfer cash for travel she arranged for them to her own account instead of the business account of the travel agency she worked for. 

Cristiano's agent, Jorge Mendes, was also a target of this scam, reportedly losing over € 16,000. 

Maria received a four-year suspended prison sentence at a court in Porto.

3. Akshaye Khanna

A renowned Bollywood actor, Akshaye Khanna, fell victim to a cyber scam in October 2013, where he lost over $ 65,000 after being promised double returns on his investment within a year. In his complaint, Akshaye alleged he put the money in the firm on the advice of its president and his wife, the director, who assured him of doubling the amount by investing it in the commodity market, sources said.

4. Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, Kirsten Dunst

Between 2014 and 2017, during what was later called "Celebgate," cybercriminals exploited a vulnerability in the Find My Phone app, allowing them to obtain the Apple IDs and, subsequently, the emails associated with dozens of celebrities' accounts.

Next, they sent phishing emails pretending to be from Apple or Google Security and set up fake pages to collect user credentials. 

With all that information, the hackers were able to steal hundreds of personal pictures and videos of nearly a hundred celebrities. The "Celebgate" sits in the hall of fame of cyber scams for exposing so many celebrities at the same time.

5. Denise Welch

By Nicky Johnston

Denise Welch, a well-known TV personality and Loose Women star fell victim to a financial cyber scam where she was tricked into giving her PIN number to fake bank staff. 

This incident occurred when fraudsters posed as workers from her bank, claiming to be from the 'Fraud Department,' and deceived her into disclosing sensitive banking information, which allowed them to steal cash from her account.

A Lesson for Both Employees and Leaders on How to Stay Protected Against Cyber Scams

At the end of the day, what we see here is that these celebrities are mere human beings. Able to make the same mistakes we do. 

Additionally, you might have noticed them falling for common traps, like giving access to their bank information, seeking to make "easy money" through investments that promise to make absurd returns, clicking phishing email links, providing login information, and countless other simple deceptions.

These events serve as a reminder that vigilance and awareness are essential.

Too busy to take care of your daily workflow to focus on educating your workforce?

Aware Force is here. We deliver timely, relevant content year-round — branded and tailored for your organization, reinforcing your team’s role as subject-matter experts.

Aware Force’s content is easy to use and ready to integrate with your existing cybersecurity programs.

It’s ideal for intranets, websites, internal social media, and your onboarding program.

We’re standing by to show you truly innovative ways organizations use Aware Force to engage their employees. (And the employees let them know how much it’s appreciated.

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