Lifestyle of the rich and famous isn’t always an easy road. Being in the public eye makes for an easy target for extortion and blackmail. Celebrities often find themselves victims of these cases because the one thing every celebrity has a large some of is money. Money is what drives these extortionists to attack their prey. The goal behind each case is a get-rich-quick plan to scam celebrities to keep information they proclaim to have private. The deal is simple don’t pay the price and the photos or information goes straight to the press and released to the public. If the celebrities wont pay the price news media outlets surly will.
Celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Kris Jenner have all experienced an extortion scare. From threatening to have scandalous photos and sex tapes released to being accused of chid pornography, these celebrities have faced undesirable situations. With the chance of their world possibly be shaken up with the release of personal and reputation running information these celebrities are quick to take legal action. To keep their reputation from being tarnished and have their culprit suffer the consequences these celebrities will do whatever it takes. Here are 15 unbelievable celebrity extortion cases.
15. John Stamos
Most famous for his role as Uncle Jesse on the ABC sitcom Full House, John Stamos found himself a target of an extortion plot planed by a pair of Michigan citizens. Stamos’s lawyer contacted the FBI who worked together to uncover who was behind the extortion plot. It was discovered that Allison Coss and Scott Sippola, threatened to release scandalous photographs of Stamos that would harm his reputation. These pictures were supposedly taken in 2004 when Stamos attended a party in Florida in which Coss was also in attendance. Coss and Sippola told Stamos that they would not released the images if he gave them $700,000. Both Coss and Sippola were arrested after an undercover agent agreed to meet with the two for a money drop off at a Michigan airport.
14. David Letterman
American television host, David Letterman revealed to his audience that he had been a victim of a $2 million extortion plan involving sexual relationships with female employees. The suspect Robert Halderman demanded the money from Letterman or else he would go public with this evidence. He had gave the late night show host a letter explaining that he knew what he had done and he was willing to make a screenplay about it unless he was given a lump some of money. Letterman admitted to the allegations during a live taping of his late night show and explained that he had taken the package which included a letter to the special prosecutions bureau of the Manhattan district. Halderman was caught when the bureau set up a meeting with him to exchange a fake cheque for $2 million dollars.
13. John Travolta
During a trip to the Bahamas in 2009, John Trovalta found himself in the middle of a nightmare. Tarino Lightbourn, a paramedic tried to extort $25 million from Travolta with a medical document that was irrelevant to his son’s death. Lightbourn tried to sell a one-page “refusal to transport” document that had been signed by the actor while his son was being treated. It was later discussed the lack of importance of that document and that Travoltas had done everything they could to save their son, Jett. Travolta had even considered flying back to Florida before he decided for his son to get help from a local Bahamian hospital. Lightbourn was charged with conspiracy to commit extortion and attempted extortion. Once the document was obtained in court the authenticity was questioned.
12. Cindy Crawford
Model and actress, Cindy Crawford and her husband found themselves victims of a $100,000 extortion case involving a photograph taken of their 7-year-old daughter. The photo was taken by the couple’s former nanny and displayed their daughter in revealing clothing being tied to a chair and gagged. The nanny claimed that the photo was taken as a prank in a part of a game of “cops and robbers” however it was taken without Crawford and her husband’s knowledge. The couple took legal action against anyone who assisted the perpetrator in the distribution or sale of the photo. An acquaintance of the nanny, Edis Kayalar, threatened to sell the photo to the media. Kayalar was charged with one count of extortion, while the nanny who was never named did not get charged.
11. Paula Deen
Celebrity chef and cooking show host, Paula Deen was faced with a man who was trying to extort $200,000 from her. Thomas George Paculis threatened to publicly reveal damaging information about her. The threat was made as Deen lost major endorsements stemming from allegations of racial discrimination at her Savannah restaurant. Paculis thought this was a perfect time to extort money from the famous chef since she was already experiences hard times and would be seemingly more willing to give him whatever he wanted to make the matters go away. However, this is not how the situation played out, he pled guilty in federal court trying to make a deal with Deen’s attorney. He signed a non-disclosure agreement and was sentenced to two years in federal prison.
10. Alex Rodriguez
Jennifer Lopez and boyfriend Alex Rodriguez have a lot more in common then people think. Rodriguez also found himself in the middle of an extortion case with his ex-fling. Back in 2014, Rodriguez broke up with the women even though she continued to contact him asking for small amounts of money, which he never gave her. When Rodriguez started to spend more time with singer Jennifer Lopez, the ex started to ask for larger amounts. He told the lady that he was happy in a relationship with Lopez and that she should leave him alone. The ex saw this as her chance to make some money so she demanded $600,000 or else she would sell messages Rodriguez sent her to multiple media outlets. Rodriguez stood firm and did not give her any money. Instead he let his legal team handle the situation. Lopez was fully aware of the situation and stood by him stating that she has been though a similar situation.
9. Jennifer Lopez
Recently making headlines for her amazing physique, Jennifer Lopez has not always had such praising headlines. In 2012, Lopez found herself amongst an extortion case with her former driver. Hakob Manoukian threatened to blackmail her by revealing personal information that he had attained during his time working for the singer. Manoukian demanded she pay him $2.8 million to not disclose the information he allegedly heard while driving Lopez. This demand made by Manoukian was in violation of the confidentiality agreement, where he is not allowed to release any information about his employer. This breech of contract led Lopez to sue Manoukian for $20 million, however due to the fact that he had previously taken Lopez to court for unlawful termination, a Las Angeles judge believed she filed the extortion suit to try and derail from the previous case.
8. Bill Cosby
This American actor and stand-up comedian has recently been making headline for being involved in a sexual assault case. However, this is not the first time Bill Cosby’s name has found itself in the middle of a court case. In 1997, Autumn Jackson claimed to be his love child daughter. Jackson demanded $40 million to keep from going to the media with the story. Cosby feared that his image would be tarnished if the news broke out that he had a child while being married to another women. For several years he had supported Jackson’s for educational purposes. Cosby admits the affair, but denies being the father. Fearing that the results of a paternity test would ruin his image, he never asked that one be taken. Cosby brought forward the information that he obtained a birth certificate that proved he was not the father. After the trail had ended Jackson was charged with extortion.
7. Kris Jenner
There is always drama surrounding the Kardasian-Jenner clang. Momager, Kris Jenner, found herself tangled in a sex tape extortion plot. An unknown man who claimed he was in possession of a sex tape starring Jenner approached her and threatened to release it. Initially Jenner ignored the threat because she believed that it was not true. However, the man tormented her calling her more than 100 times using 100 different phone numbers. He demanded she pay him or else he would release the tape. Being feared for her life, Jenner believed she was being watched and weight out all her legal options. An individual claimed he was also in possession of the tape, but when asked for evidence there was no proof that the video even existed.
American rapper, R. Kelly had his fair share of legal accusations and legal battles. The one that made the most headlines was his child pornography trail in 2008. A sex tape of R. Kelly with a 14-year-old girl became public in 2002, which led to an extortion plot. Witness Lisa Van Allen said she had participated in a threesome with Kelly and the girl and requested to be paid to change her evidence on the stand. Van Allen met up with a private investigator and threatened to have a deal to write a tell-all book about the incident. During the trail it could not been proven whether or not there was a publication deal, however the tape was claimed as being altered and fabricated. Therefore making the tape unreliable evidence and Van Allen was deemed a liar and an extortionist.
5. Steven Seagal
Action actor, Steven Seagal found himself in a dangerous situation with his former business partner and alleged mob-affiliate Julius Nasso. He heard that Seagal no longer wanted to make action movies with him which didn’t sit well with him. Seagal was threatened by the mob that he must return to making movies and that he has to pay them $150,000 for each movie he made with Nasso. Afraid of what the consequences would be if he did not comply, Seagal agreed to reunite with Nasso in order to buy time. During the trial FBI wiretap were used as evidence. The wiretap displayed the Gambinos during the meeting with Seagal laughing about the incident, stating that the situation seemed like it would be in a movie. In 2003, Nasso pled guilt to extortion and served one year in jail.
4. Regis Philbin
Former co-host of “Live with Regis and Kelly”, Regis Philbin fell victim to an extortion case involving a family member. Philbin’s son, Danny Philbin found out that his wife, Judy Philbin was planning on blackmailing and extort money from his father. Danny requested a restraining order against his wife when his methamphetamine-addicted wife said his father would be beaten up or killed if his father did not give her money. Once the restraining order was filed, Judy denied the allegations and insisted it was all a lie. However, Danny’s legal declaration tells a different story about Judy’s behaviour. Danny explains that Judy would threaten him by stating that if she did not meet her demands for payment of money to buy her drugs his father would suffer the consequences. After Danny and Judy split up, Danny tried to kill himself by taking an overdose of pills, but was unsuccessful.
3. Gene Simmons
The front man of the band Kiss, Gene Simmons, had a company release a sex tape featuring the rock star sleeping with an Austrian energy drink spokesmodel. Once the tape was released Simmons was quick to call the tape garbage. He took to his official website to clarify the situation, explaining that the tape was recorded without his knowledge and that it is a part of his past that he cannot do anything to repair it. Legal action was taken to stop the distribution of the sex tape. Simmons proclaims that the video was decades old and that the company who release it had been trying to extort and blackmail him for years. Simmons never gave the company any money and continued to deny them.
2. Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey is arguably the most recognizable billionaire in the world and with that status paints a big target for undesirable circumstances. In 2007, Winfrey was a victim of a $1.5 million extortion plot. An Atlanta man, Kiefer Bonvillain claimed he had recorded conversations between himself and a Winfrey employee that contained career-ending information. However, his get-rich-quick scheme failed when Oprah turned him over to the FBI. The FBI monitored conversations with Bonvillain and he agreed to be paid the money for the tapes. In return he handed over the tapes in a parking lot of an Atlanta hotel and was arrested at the scene. He was charged in federal court for trying to extort money by threatening to diminish a person’s reputation. Once released Bonvillain sued Winfrey and Harpo for making him out to be seen as an extortionist. Bonvillain had later published a book titled “Ruthless”, which featured undisclosed secrets about Winfrey and her company.
1. Joe Francis
The creator of “Girls Gone Wild”, after his house was broken into and valuables stolen, Joe Francis was welcomed home by a masked man with a gun. Darnell Riley was identified as the masked man who forced Francis at gunpoint to make a sex tape stating that he was gay and unless he gave him $500,000 the video was to be released. Known to blackmail and extort other Hollywood celebrities, Riley is referred to as Hollywood’s conman. Riley was about to get away with the extortion if it was not for Paris Hilton. Riley is the same person who blackmailed Paris Hilton over her sex tape. With the help of Hilton, the police were able to catch and arrest Riley. He spent eight years in prison due to the help Hilton gave the police to find him.
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