LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Who could say no to a free first-class flight?A $10,000 wardrobe? And we’ll toss in luxury hotel accommodations! Oh, and a $300,000 speaker’s fee?
Who could say no, indeed?
It all sounds too good to be true. And as it turns out, it is. Officials say several celebrities have been targeted in a new phony contract scam that offers all those perks — and the victim has nothing to show for it in the end.
For years, Madison Hildebrand worked on big real estate deals on the Bravo show “Million Dollar Listing LA.”
But last month – he got an offer — he says was too good to be true.
He was apparently the latest target of the scammers. He spoke to CBS2/KCAL9’s Jeff Nguyen about knowing something wasn’t quite right with the unbelievable deal.
“So everything was done via email and details with bank information which red flag, red flag,” says Hildebrand.
His business manager got a contract for Hildebrand to speak in Dubai — for $300,000.
The document had what claimed to be the letterhead of a sheikh from the United Arab Emirates.
“The contract was spell-proof, grammar-proof, look legit,” Hildebrand says.
Hildebrand and his team noticed a clause in the deal. It’s similar to the one that targeted another reality TV star: Dog the Bounty Hunter.
In a nutshell, the scammer would wire money to the victim but canceled the deal after five days.
In return, the person being scammed would send money out of their personal account to cover the initial money transfer that wasn’t on the up-and-up in the first place.
“My good money is now in their account. They cancel their bad money. And I cannot find it. It’s gone,” says Hildebrand.
The FBI says it’s been investigating cases in which entertainment industry people have been scammed – with promises of getting paid for trips to Indonesia.
Hildebrand says even though his deal involved a trip to Dubai he’s not sure where the scheme originated.
“It’s all done online? They’re invisible. And somebody’s got to protect us,” Hildebrand says.
He also told Nguyen the five-day cancellation clause along with the wire transfer tipped him off because he says real estate agents are often confronted with these types of scams during the escrow phase of home sales.