10 Celebrity Scam Tricks That Lurk Behind the Names of the Rich and Famous

The Celebrity Scam: 10 tricks that aim to fool you by using the names of showbiz and sporting stars: Internet Scambusters #351

The celebrity scam relies on the simple fact that many of us
are prepared to believe almost anything that has a star’s name
attached to it.

From phony product endorsements and celebrity impersonations
to fake shows and non-existent prizes, these scams are rife
both online and in the real world. And some are little-known
— but can cause you grief.

While celebrities are genuinely involved in many of the events
and promos we discuss in this issue, it makes sense to be wary
and check them out first.

Before we get started, we suggest you visit last week’s most
popular articles from our other websites:

Recognize the Signs of Identity Theft before It’s Too Late: Reduce
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target="_blank">signs of identity theft in its early

7 Tips for Reducing your Home Insurance Bill: Follow these tips and
get the href="http://www.consumertipsreports.org/7_tips_for_reducing_your_home_insurance_bill.html"
target="_blank">lowest rate possible on your home insurance if
you’re unhappy with the costs.

Consider DIY Dishwasher Repair before Buying a New One: Extend the life of your dishwasher with href="http://www.consumersavvytips.org/consider_diy_dishwasher_repair_before_buying_a_new_one.html"
target="_blank">DIY diswater repair and save loads
of money.

Is a Gas Rebate Credit Card a Good Idea? Things to watch out for with
a href="http://www.creditcardwhizkid.com/2009/07/is-a-gas-rebate-credit-card-a-good-idea.html"
target="_blank">gas rebate credit card and learn whether you
should have one.

Time to get going…

Celebrity Scam Tricks That Lurk Behind the Names of the Rich and Famous

The celebrity scam, which uses the names of famous people from
the worlds of entertainment, sports and politics, is a common
way of trying to hoodwink the public.

Mostly, names are used to make the scams seem more believable.
If a star’s name is attached to a story or product, it must be
genuine, mustn’t it? Or so the thinking goes…

Many of these tricks also fall into other well known scam
categories, like supposed lottery wins, with the tricksters
hoping use of a star’s name will lower your natural
skepticism. Others are less well known.

Here are 10 of the most common celebrity scams you might

  1. Product endorsement. Marketing experts know that if a
    celebrity is seen wearing or using a particular item, people
    will be more inclined to buy it. So it’s a short step from
    this for a con artist to tag a product with a famous name
    without their permission.

    In the US and many other countries, the power of the law is
    usually enough to make these crooks “cease and desist” (which
    is the legal term for making them stop). But, the Internet
    puts some of these scammers out of reach of the law — so be
    wary of endorsements you see online.

  2. Posing as a celebrity. OK, you’re not likely to fall for a
    scam where someone claims to be Britney Spears. But there are
    plenty of lower-ranking celebrities, particularly sporting
    figures, who can be impersonated by someone with just a

    This trick has been used by scammers trying to borrow money.
    They claim they’ve been locked out of their car, hoping you’ll
    believe them if they’re known to have plenty of money.

    Some con artists are real cheeky, though. Earlier this year, a
    promoter in South America organized a concert supposedly
    featuring singer Toni Braxton. Instead, he used a lookalike
    stand-in. The fans, though, were not easily misled and booed
    her offstage.

  3. The bogus event. This brings us to another concert-related
    celebrity scam — the bogus event. People buy tickets for a
    show or an event like a sports camp that simply doesn’t happen.

    The promoter either disappears or makes some lame excuse about
    why the event won’t now take place, then you have a battle
    trying to get your money back.

  4. Celebrity lottery scams. A recent scam using the name of
    the world’s number one chat show host, Oprah Winfrey,
    illustrates this celebrity scam.

    Victims receive letters or emails saying they have won a prize
    in the “Oprah Summer Show Sweepstakes.” The message carries a
    photo of the star, but it hasn’t really come from her.

    It’s a con in which victims are then asked to pay a handling
    fee for their prize.

    Similar scams based on other well known TV shows are often
    accompanied by a picture of a well known celebrity connected
    with the show.

  5. Nigerian celebrity scam. The Nigerian celebrity scam
    exploits the name of a well known person and tries to get you
    to pay the scammer. Sometimes it’s even a bogus message
    supposedly from the President of Nigeria wanting to give you
    some cash, if you’ll just pay an upfront fee.

    Or how about this latest, sneaky version: You get a message
    purportedly from Ruth Madoff, wife of the disgraced Ponzi
    crook Bernard Madoff, inviting you to help her hide some of
    her husband’s supposed hidden millions. All untrue of course.

  6. Website name hijacking. You visit a website that’s named
    for a well known person and, understandably, assume it’s
    theirs. Well it ain’t necessarily so.

    Celebrities who weren’t so quick off the mark in the early
    days of the Internet sometimes find a website with their name
    has already been registered by someone else.

    Such sites might just be used as an advertising page for other
    websites or they may contain malicious code.

    In the US, stars can now claim the sites back for themselves,
    as one guy who registered the name TheJayLenoShow.com recently
    found out. He was ordered to give the domain to the late-show

    Hijacking: A Dirty Business

  7. Bogus news alerts. As we reported recently in Issue #347,
    Legends and Hoaxes Straight from the News Headlines
    , celebrity
    names are often used in emails either concerning
    their deaths, or saying they’re dead when they’re still very
    much alive, or making some other sensational claim about them.

    The idea is to arouse your curiosity so that you either click
    on a link that leads to a virus-infected website or open an
    attachment that installs a virus on your computer.

  8. “Meet the star.” In this celebrity scam, you are led to
    believe you’ll get the chance to meet a famous person, perform
    with them (if you’re a budding entertainer) or otherwise
    audition with them.

    Victims have paid small fortunes by responding to emails that
    may say they’ve won the chance to have a meal with a star, or
    join a celebrity on stage, or to an ad for training with their
    sports hero.

    They’re asked to send money to cover air tickets and hotel
    costs, or a fee to participate in a nonexistent event like a
    celebrity sports camp (see item #3 above).

  9. Outrageous messages on Twitter. Recently, the Twitter
    accounts of celebrities like Britney Spears have been hijacked
    and used to publish sensational or even obscene messages.

    This, presumably, is just some hacker’s idea of fun, but in
    other cases, the messages contain links to malicious websites.

  10. Fake biographies. This is another hacking trick, again
    usually someone’s idea of a joke. Most often it involves
    biographies of well known celebrities on the collaborative
    Wikipedia site.

    Although anyone can contribute to and edit Wikipedia articles,
    the organization does have security controls in place but
    these may not stop a seasoned hacker.

What to Do…

The purpose of highlighting all the celebrity scams in this
issue is to put you on your guard against accepting the use of
celebrity names as some sort of token of credibility.

It’s understandably easy to be excited and perhaps to feel in
awe when you encounter the name of a famous person, and
especially if it involves a sensational story or a current or
potential future meeting with them.

And, of course, many celebrity-linked events and promotions
are genuine.

Just make sure you check them out in detail, especially before
parting with money. And never click on those email links.

Let’s not forget, either, that some stars are great scammers
themselves. There’s no shortage of marriage, divorce and
break-up stories or other dramas in the celebrity world that
turn out to be just clever publicity stunts.

Unlike the others in our list, though, they are usually
harmless. However, we want to make sure you’re aware of all of
these celebrity scam tricks.

That’s a wrap for this issue. Wishing you a great week!