Fraud experts have revealed the growing list of celebrities whose pictures are used in online scams. Thieves stole more than £750million through fraud in the first half of 2021, according to UK Finance banking association.
And they are increasingly posing as well-known sports, stage and film stars to trick vulnerable victims into sending them cash. Chloe Roche, head of the scam team at CEL Solicitors, who has represented hundreds of people caught by such scams, revealed that dedicated celebrity fans are often targeted.
She said: “They are already engaged to the high profile figures they admire and scammers try to make a personal connection before asking for money. These people are master manipulators, often investing hours, days, and even months cultivating each “relationship.”
“This can take the form of a so-called romance scam, where vulnerable people are tricked into believing that there is some kind of spark between them and their perceived idol. It is one of the most common types of online fraud and the number of cases is increasing at an incredible rate.
“The amount lost from love scams – also known as ‘catfishing’ – rose from £9.3m in the first half of 2020 to £15.1m in the first six months of last year.”
The issue has been spotlighted by the recently hit Netflix show The Tinder Swindler, which revealed how scammer Simon Leviev swindled several women out of a staggering £10million. CEL Solicitor’s Ms Roche added: “Smart criminals set up accounts that reflect celebrities’ private profiles and wait for the relationship to develop before asking or demanding money.
“We find that victims feel embarrassed when they realize something is wrong, but are too embarrassed to tell friends or family, and as a result often continue to fall prey to the scammers.”
Here are some of the celebrities who have been abused in identity fraud:
The ‘Dance With Me Tonight’ hitmaker has been a popular target for scammers as his picture was used to swindle around £200,000 from unsuspecting victims.
Women in two different countries have been targeted by scammers who forged the former X Factor host’s driver’s license to endorse a fake profile.
Cursed British chef Ramsay became a nightmare for an American-based woman who was led to believe she was about to move to Los Angeles to start a new life together.
She paid around £800 to an imaginary estate agent before realizing the trick.
Another kitchen crush had to warn their social media followers about cruel impersonators.
Great Britain’s bake-off judge Paul Hollywood warned fans to beware after impersonators offered personal messages and even racy snaps of the apron-wearing hunk.
But it was too late for an admirer who is said to have parted ways thanks to a £4,700 fake profile.
This Morning favorite Holly unknowingly became the face of a cryptocurrency scam last year when fake financiers used her face and fake quotes to lure investors through fraudulent websites.
Headlined “Brexit Millionaire,” articles promised juicy instant profits from investing in cryptocurrency.
The “I Kissed a Girl” popstrel is an obvious con artist celebrity due to its glamorous image and devoted following.
That didn’t stop a man in the United States from falling prey to a scammer who tricked him into believing they had been in a relationship for six years.
But instead of being the American Idol host, he actually dated a woman from Gloucester.
Controversial US actor Cage was played by a swindler who cheated a British woman out of around £10,000.
She believed false claims that the Oscar winner needed money to pay his tax bill and that he was flying to the UK to meet.
Even old rocker Bruce has been impersonated for an elaborate online scam.
The scammer scammed “The Boss,” claiming he was splitting from his wife Patti Scialfa and needed financial assistance with legal fees.
But one victim remained on Dancing in the Dark after parting ways with £9,000 over several weeks.