Those that have been the victim of a cybercrime know that cybercriminals don’t discriminate much when it comes to their victims. They can target average individuals with only a modest amount of wealth in their bank accounts, or wealthy individuals with exuberant funds stashed away overseas. Many wealthy people have been the victims of cybercrimes, including some celebrities and politicians that you might recognize. Join Facts Verse as we take a look at celebrities who lost millions to cybercriminals.
When it comes to cybercrime, the attack often comes as a result of some carelessness on the victim’s part. However, until the attack has happened to you, it’s hard to know exactly what to look out for to prevent these crimes. This is true whether you’re an average person, or whether you’re a celebrity like Steven Spielberg.
Spielberg is the first famous cybercrime victim we’ll be looking at. In the 1990s, a Tennessee prison inmate was found to have accessed Spielberg’s personal information. The inmate used this personal information to examine the director’s American Express card purchases. When the criminal was caught, he claimed that he had been hired by a Hollywood studio to supply information on the director. Later, it was revealed that the criminal had at some point tried to option the rights to his story for a Hollywood movie. Thankfully, he couldn’t find any backers.
Next, let’s take a look at the 2011 case of actress Liv Tyler. The Lord of the Rings star and daughter of Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler certainly has a name that carries some weight around Hollywood. Because of this, it’s no surprise that a cybercriminal might want to steal her identity. The perpetrator of the crime was Liv’s stylist. This stylist also stole the information of a few other celebrities, including Melanie Griffith, Penelope Cruz, and Anne Hathaway. The information stolen from these celebrities was used to procure good and services around the local area. However, the stylist didn’t make it very far before being caught.
Ricky Gervais was also the victim in a case of identity fraud. However, the cybercriminals that attacked him weren’t the brightest. The criminals had somehow managed to coerce a bank employ to supply them with information that allowed them to access Gervais’ funds. They used the information to buy 200,000 pounds worth of gold bullion using the former The Office actor’s money. However, there was an issue when it came time to pick up the bullion.
Apparently, a purchase that exuberant required photo identification to pick up. The criminals were forced to craft a makeshift photo ID for their victim. However, they didn’t put very much effort into their craft. Although the passport itself wasn’t too poor in quality, their mistake came in regards to their choice of photo. With limited options available, the thieves had been forced to use a cutout photo from a DVD box set of The Office. Because of this, the counterfeit identification failed to fool anyone, and the crooks were subsequently caught and charged for their crime.
Paris Hilton is another famous figure that was the victim of a notable case of fraud. Cybercriminals used her name to set up a website. The website was called “Paris.org”. Because her name was registered as a trademark, the criminals were forced to pay the star a fee for using her name. After this incident, an unrelated event saw the star have a good deal of information leaked after a teenager hacked her phone.
Another incident of fraud against a celebrity involved Oprah Winfrey. The television personality had a good deal of her personal information stolen from her by a busboy. The busboy apparently performed the majority of his crimes in public on a library computer. It’s understandable that a cybercriminal might choose to set their sights on Oprah, as she is one of the richest celebrity figures in media with a net worth of nearly $3 billion dollars.
Tiger Woods was also a notable victim of identity theft. A career cybercriminal named Anthony Lemar Taylor decided to set his sights on Woods. Eventually, he found a weakness in Woods’ digital security. This allowed him to procure a driver’s license, social security card, and even a military ID in the famous golfer’s name. Despite the apparent care put into the crime, Taylor ended up misspelling Woods’ middle name on a document. However, he was still able to purchase and hide $50,000 worth of merchandise before being caught.
Tiger Woods isn’t the only celebrity to have been targeted by a career cybercriminal. Actor and rapper Will Smith found himself the victim of a cybercrime in 2009. The cybercriminal used Smith’s name to steal a total of $33,000 from a number of the star’s bank accounts. The same criminal had previously performed a similar crime against Steve Smith of the Atlanta Hawks. In fact, he was on parole for that crime at the time he committed his crime against Will Smith.
All of the above represent single cybercrimes that have been committed against celebrity figures, but there have also been massive attacks committed against multiple figures at once. One such case was the result of Russian hackers. These hackers opened up a website and posted the personal information of a number of celebrities and politicians. If you’re enjoying this video so far, be sure to hit the like button to show your support. As well, subscribe and hit the notification bell if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way.
In 2013, a group of hackers created a website intended to leak the personal information of a number of celebrities and politicians. The hackers had apparently stumbled upon this information while seeking for bank accounts to hack into. The website’s name was “exposed.su”. For those that are not aware, the “su” in the address stands for Soviet Union, meaning this domain was operating out of Russia.
This website was only open to the public for less than two weeks, being closed by it’s creators after 12 days. However, the information has since shown up on other domains. The story remains infamous, and stands as an example that no one is out of bounds when it comes to cyber attacks.
The victims of the attack included current president Joe Biden, as well as Bill Gates and then-first lady Michelle Obama. Other victims included celebrity couple Beyoncé and Jay-Z, former wrestler Hulk Hogan, and socialite Kim Kardashian. Given that the origin of the domain was the Soviet Union, the hackers in this case were presumed to have been Russian. Russia is the world’s leader in cybercrime, with a number of cybercriminals operating out of Russia essentially legally.
Although many might consider the release of these celebrity figures’ personal information to be all fun and games, professional analysts speculate that the true victims of these crimes go unnoticed. There is a huge cybercrime industry in Russia, with most of the cybercriminals going after residents of other countries, including the United States. Because of distinct laws between these countries, criminals in Russia are allowed to operate without much interference. These criminals generally choose to go after average individuals, skimming small sums off the top of their bank accounts. These crimes go largely unnoticed, but likely have more drastic impact upon their victims than these more notable crimes that have occurred against celebrity figures. Thankfully, in instances where these criminals have tried to travel past Russian borders, respective authorities have arrested them almost immediately.
The “exposed.su” incident provided the public with a good deal of gossip about some of their favorite celebrities. Many celebrities, such as Jay-Z and Kim Kardashian, were shown to be in a good deal of debt. However, stars Lady Gaga and Paris Hilton were shown to have immaculate credit scores. Besides these celebrities’ financial situations, the leaked information also included social security numbers and personal addresses. In addition to targeting Michelle Obama and Joe Biden, the hackers also targeted Donald Trump. This was well before his run for presidency, though not before rumors were circulating.
The hackers paid special attention to Chief Charles Beck of the Los Angeles Police Department. Their leak of Beck’s personal information included taunting references to an LA incident where an officer was found to be a serial killer. This officer was shot in a standoff, and the hackers apparently felt this incident didn’t get enough exposure. The leak also included a reference to an infamous rap song that doesn’t mince words in deriding police officers as a whole.
Cybercrimes can come in a good deal of forms, and can involve anyone whose information is vulnerable. Some of the above celebrities, including Kim Kardashian, have been the victims of multiple cybercrimes. Celebrities can be easy targets because more is often known about them. As well, they oftentimes have a good deal more money in their bank accounts than average people! However, the high-profile nature of celebrities can also make them dangerous targets for cybercriminals.
In the Russian cybercriminal industry, everyday people continue to make the best cybercrime victims. Despite the seemingly altruistic nature of some cybercriminals, most cybercrimes are the result of criminals simply looking for an easy way to make money. Analysts speculate that the average Russian cybercriminal makes a six-figure income, with money left over to bribe cops and authority figures once their bills are paid. So long as the criminals don’t target local institutions, they are left alone by the authorities. Due to the global reach of technology, these hackers can access people all throughout the world. Whether leaking personal data to the public or stealing personal funds for themselves, these hackers are rarely up to any good!
Cybercrime is a phenomenon that has only come about in the past several decades. It has become increasingly defined and understood, and this has allowed cybercrimes to be better prevented. As well, laws against cybercrimes are becoming better and more easily enforced gradually over time. Still, the risk of cybercrimes remains massive, and anyone could lose millions if they aren’t careful! Comment down below to share if we missed any notable incidents of a celebrity being the victim of a cybercrime, or if you think cybercrimes should be enforced across global borders. As always, like this video to show your support, and subscribe and hit the notification bell if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!