With their high profile lifestyles, blockbuster paychecks, and status in Hollywood, celebrities are often the easiest targets for extortion and blackmail. Past victims have included daytime talk show host Oprah Winfrey, actors Rob Lowe and John Travolta, and even “Cheetah Girl” Adrienne Bailon.
In 2010, “Buffy” fans were heartbroken when “Angel” actor David Boreanaz was forced to come clean about his marriage infidelities to wife of nine-years, Jaime Bergman, after an unnamed woman (allegedly Tiger Woods‘ mistress, Rachel Uchitel) threatened to go public with their scandalous love affair. But Boreanaz is not alone.
With their name and reputation on the line, celebrities are quick to jump into legal action.
In 1998, Autumn Jackson came forward claiming to be Bill Cosby's illegitimate child. She threatened to leak her story to media outlets unless she received $40 million from the actor. The only thing she got from the actor was five years of jail time.
From 2003 to 2008 Steven Seagal's ex-producer Julius Nasso attempted to connect the actor in conjunction with the downfall of a powerful mob family. Nasso later denied the claims and agreed to a plea deal for extortion. However, Nasso later sued Seagal for breach of contact, where it was reported he dropped the charges in exchange for $500,000.
The mastermind behind 'Girls Gone Wild' was forced to star in his own scandalous sex tape. In 2004, Darnell Riley broke into Joe Francis' house, where he used a gun to force Francis to star in his own sex tape. In exchange for withholding the tape, the thief demanded an unknown amount of money. In the end, Francis didn't give into the demands and the tapes eventually went public.
Tom Cruise wed actress Katie Holmes in 2005. One year later, Marc Lewis Gittleman (aka the 'Sultan of Sleaze') stole their wedding photo and demanded $1.3 million for it's return. Gittleman was later sentenced to two years probation but in September 2009 he hanged himself.
In 2005 the 'Charlie's Angels' actress was involved with an extortion case when photographer John Rutter threatened to release topless photos of her. The photos were taken before Cameron Diaz made it big in Hollywood and demanded $3.5 million in exchange for the photos. Rutter was eventually convicted of perjury, forgery, and attempted grand theft and faces up to six years of jail time.
Yoko Ono's extortionist was her former driver Koral Karsan. In 2007 he threatened to release an embarrassing photo of her to the media unless she forked over $2 million. He was later arrested and pleaded guilty as his hearing.
Keifer Bonvillain, a former employee at Oprah's production company, attempted to extort $1.5 million from the media mogul in 2005. After publishing a book 'Ruthless' in 2008--which featured tell-all secrets about Oprah and her company--Bonvillain tried again and filed a $180 million lawsuit against her. He was eventually arrested.
In 2008 KISS bassist and vocalist Gene Simmons claimed a company was trying to 'blackmail and extort' money from him over a sex tape he allegedly made with an Austrian energy drink spokeswoman. The video was eventually leaked onto the web and Simmons swiftly took legal action.
In 2008 'Cheetah Girl' Adrienne Bailon was travelling when someone stole her laptop from her luggage. The thief later came forward, demanding a mere $1,000 in exchange for withholding the nude photos of the actress.
In 2009 John Stamos was part of an extortion plot when two blackmailers (later identified as Allison Coss and Scott Sippola) threatened to release scandalous photos of the actor unless he coughed up $700,000. The actor teamed up with the FBI who eventually caught the treacherous duo.
Also in 2009, supermodel Cindy Crawford was involved in an extortion case when German model Edis Kayalar threatened to leak a 'sexy' photo of her 7-year old daughter gagged and tied to a chair. Crawford's husband Rande Gerber gave him $1,000 but when Kayalar demanded more money, the couple went to the police. Kayalar was eventually arrested and handed over to German authorities.
Rob Lowe's former nanny violated her confidentiality contract by publicly accusing the actor of sexual harassment.
In 2008 Rob Lowe's former nanny Laura Boyce blackmailed him and his wife demanding a payment of $1.5 million or else she would accuse of him sexual harassment. She eventually leaked the information to the press and Lowe sued for breach of privacy. A judge eventually ruled against Boyce, stating that she had violated her confidentiality contract.
The late night talk show host admitted in 2009 that he had slept with several women who worked on his show. It was later reported this scandalous reveal took place only after CBS producer, Robert Halderman, demanded $2 million from David Letterman or else threatened to go public with this information.
Following the tragic death of John Travolta's son Jett in 2009, ambulance driver Tarino Lightbourne and his attorney Pleasant Bridgewater threatened to release private information regarding that night. Lightbourne had been one of the medics at the scene. It was reported the pair sought $25 million from the 'Grease' actor in exchange for their silence. The case was taken to court which eventually ended in a mistrial.
The host of 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire' was involved in a case of blackmail in 2009 when his son's ex-wife Judy Philbin--described by Regis Philbin as a former drug addict--had threatened to kill the elder Philbin if he didn't give her money to maintain her drug habit. Danny Philbin, Regis' wheelchair-bound son, charged Judy with extortion and got a restraining order against her.
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