Three people have been accused of attempted fraud for pretending to be members of the Guggenheim family. They used the email "firstname.lastname@example.org" and claimed to be "large contributors to Home Land Security." What betrayed them? Their "lack of sophistication."
Have you given any money to "David B. Guggenheim," "Vladimir Z. Guggenheim" or "Lady Catarina"? If so, you may want to contact the authorities! These three people, despite their sophisticated-sounding names, are not actually descendants of 19th-century rich guy Meyer Guggenheim, according to the feds.
David and Vladimir, real names David Birnbaum and Vladimir Zuravel, were arrested on Monday; "Lady Catarina," real name Catarina Pietra Toumei, is still on the lam. Apparently, none of their attempted scams were successful, which is surprising, when you hear about some of their sophisticated schemes:
Toumei... pitched a convoluted deal that involved a $1 billion purchase of gold using bank guarantees.
As it turned out, Victim-1 had once worked in an unidentified capacity with former President George H.W. Bush and told that to Toumei. She "indicated a desire to gain access to the Bush family," the complaint said, throwing out even bigger whoppers: "David B. Guggenheim" was a major shareholder of "six of the to international banks" and a major shareholder in a China oil company, he and "Vladimir Z. Guggenheim" were "large contributors to Home Land Security and the U.S. Army."
The scammers, who used email@example.com as their email address, also tried to convince Coca-Cola to sell Guggenheim-branded vodka. In one case, they invited a mark to "the lobby of a residential building located on Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn" to meet about a $4 billion deal.
Eventually, two of their almost-victims grew suspicious of their "lack of sophistication" and asked the real Guggenheims what was going on. The Postal Service, which prosecutes fraud, got on the case quickly.
[Forbes; image via Shutterstock]