Is there anything better than a too-good-to-be true scandal that takes the Internet by storm sparking hot take after hot take, ultimately carving itself into the encyclopedia of moments that broke through the endless noise and captivated an entire culture? I think not. Including a fake German heiress and a billionaire healthcare contrepreneur, here are 5 modern-day scammers who should be on your radar.
Apple and Facebook — what do these multi-billion-dollar companies have in common? They were both started by college dropouts. Elizabeth Holmes took notes from Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg and cut her time at Stanford short to start a company that was set to change the healthcare industry forever, Theranos. And a billionaire she became. But after a slew of speculations, an exposé and a lengthy trial, Holmes has officially been charged with criminal fraud. There are a lot of twists and turns to this scheme, and luckily, Hulu has started releasing episodes of its new original series The Dropout, with a spectacular performance by Amanda Seyfried in the role of the Holmes.
Fyre Festival was the most buzzed about music festival of 2017, but not because anyone had any fun there. The infamous event was conceived by Billy McFarland, who now carries the titles of contrepreneur and convicted felon. He started Fyre Media, claiming that the company was worth $90 million (which was very far from the truth). Shortly thereafter, promotional footage starring top models began circulating on social media for the world’s most VIP festival experience. Tickets sold out quickly, and patrons arrived at the biggest disaster of a destination that had neither music nor suitable lodging and only cold cheese and bread to eat. Both Netflix and Hulu have original documentaries showcasing multiple perspectives of the scam — please watch and let me know which one you like more.
If you haven’t heard the name Anna Delvey, what rock have you been living under? Delvey, actually named Sorokin, has made quite the name for herself, the subject of one of New York Magazine’s most read/viewed investigative profiles of all time. How you ask? By posing as a German heiress, conning her way into New York City’s most elite circles, and acquiring as much money from the big banks as possible. As a cherry on top of this too-good-to-be-true scheme, Shonda Rhimes has gifted us with her Netflix series Inventing Anna, which depicts how everything unfolded in dramatic fashion.
We all know people who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. But have you heard of Adam Neumann? He’s the billionaire who created WeWork with a vision to change the concept of the work environment forever. While promoting the venture, Neumann openly expressed his desire to become the world’s first trillionaire and his excitement to open a WeWork on Mars. Investors of the startup quickly found themselves in a spiral of philosophy that had nothing to do with business. Hulu’s original documentary WeWork: Or the Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn explores the rise and fall of the coworking space empire, framing up how Neumann made bank without actually doing any of the work — ironic, no?
Remember a world without Instagram? I can’t either. Shortly after the platform’s launch in 2010, Caroline Calloway started garnering a following by posting lengthy well-written captions, ultimately shaping the groundwork of how one could become a social-media influencer. Then in 2017, after a series of on-the-Internet breakdowns and a book deal gone wrong, she was exposed by former confidant Natalie Beach, who claimed she wrote all of Calloway’s captions and was the actual brains behind the notorious book proposal. Fast-forward to today, and Calloway has declared she is done with Instagram and is headed to Florida to pen the greatest memoir ever written. Can’t wait to see how this turns out.