The Strangest Crimes Committed Against Celebs
Do you remember the ’80s television series Fame? If so, you might recall Debbie Allen’s famous line, the one heard at the beginning of each show. The actress played Lydia Grant, a dance teacher at a performing arts high school in New York City, who was kind but tough. “You want fame? Well, fame costs. And right here is where you start paying, in sweat,” she said. Basically, Allen’s character was saying that one doesn’t get their name in lights without giving a major sacrifice. For her fictional dance students, that sacrifice was the physical pain of grueling workouts and practice, but for others seeking fame, their sacrifices have lead to some dire consequences.
Most famous people, particularly those in the entertainment space, sacrifice their privacy to some degree. Unfortunately, that loss of privacy has, in the cases we’re about to discuss, made celebrities more vulnerable to criminals. You’ve heard about stars getting ripped off by crooked accountants and bad managers, but even losing millions to theft is nothing compared to what the way in which these A-Listers have been victimized. So get ready, because these real-life stories of strange crimes committed against celebs are more interesting than anything you’ve ever seen them get into on the big screen.
A stalker made Beyoncé beef up security
Beyoncé has been credited by many for having true talent, as opposed to being a pop star who grew to fame because of her physical appearance or other reasons that have nothing to do with music. In other words, she’s been called the real deal by critics and fans alike. But there was one person, a British man named Bassey Essien, who thought the “Single Ladies” singer was an imposter and he harassed her for it. The potential danger led to Beyoncé’s security team being on high alert when she played at London’s Twickenham Stadium in 2013. For some reason, Essien believed that Bey killed the real Beyoncé and was pretending to be her, which he communicated in threatening letters, according to The Sun. The harassment had actually started years earlier, per Independent, when Essien tried to give the former Destiny’s Child member a book full of notes on his religious beliefs, which he said would “help” her.
Then in 2011, a High Court in the United Kingdom slapped Essien with “an anti-harassment order,” which in a perfect world would have ended things. But two years later, when the show at Twickenham arrived, the threatening letters continued, hence the tighter security. “Staff have been briefed on the situation and pictures of him have been passed around. They’ve been told to keep their eyes open and be extra vigilant,” said a source of The Sun in 2013.
Did Kevin Hart's buddy stab him in the back?
The year was 2017 and Kevin Hart’s career was soaring. He had a number of successful films and stand-up comedy specials under his belt, and his highly anticipated movie Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was about to hit theaters at the end of that year. But life comes at you fast, as the saying goes, and often problems are just waiting to disrupt some good fortune. Hart seemingly tried to get out ahead of one such disruption, because in 2017 he apologized on Instagram to his wife, Eniko Parrish, and their child for making a “bad error” in judgment. But he didn’t reveal what he did.
The comedian did say, however, that someone was threatening to extort him for money. It was later revealed that Hart cheated on Parrish with a woman named Montia Sabbag. There were even reports that Sabbag was the person extorting Hart, but that wasn’t the case. In actuality, it was his now-former friend, J.T. Jackson who was allegedly behind it all, and in May 2018, he was charged with two felony counts of attempted extortion and extortion by threatening letter. But those charges were eventually dropped, as TMZ reported. Jackson, who’s also an actor, was friends with Hart for 15 years and after news of his alleged actions surfaced, Hart tweeted, “Mind blown … Hurt … at a loss for words and simply in complete disbelief at the moment. WOW.”
Gwyneth Paltrow dealt with a stalker for 17 years
Many will probably find what happened to Gwyneth Paltrow super disturbing and really feel for her. A man named Dante Michael Soiu reportedly stalked Paltrow for years, sending her “hundreds of letters and packages” between 2009 and 2015 alone. Some of the items sent were innocuous gifts, but also included were “sex toys, pornography and pictures of sex acts where he wrote her name and his,” according to CBS News. Soiu also repeatedly said that he wanted to marry Paltrow, and discussed her death in bizarre religious contexts.
In 2000, Siou made two trips from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio to the home of Paltrow’s parents in Santa Monica, Calif., getting arrested the second time. He pleaded guilty to stalking in 2001, but after Paltrow testified, a judge found him not guilty by reason of insanity and sent him to a mental institution. The bizarre letters continued, however, and Soiu was arrested again. So the Shakespeare in Love star testified for a second time in 2016 in a Los Angeles Superior Court, but Soiu was acquitted of stalking charges. “I felt very upset by it. It defied logic, and I found it very, very upsetting,” Paltrow said during testimony in 2016 about the items sent to her, according to The Guardian. “This was something I had been through a very long and traumatic experience with already.”
A dog walker almost paid the ultimate price for Lady Gaga
On Feb. 24, 2021, in Hollywood, Calif., Lady Gaga’s dog walker, a man named Ryan Fischer, was shot in the chest while out walking the singer’s three beloved French bulldogs. Thankfully, Fischer survived, but two of the dogs, Koji and Gustav, were stolen by thieves who peeled off into the night in a white sedan. A third dog being walked by Fischer ran away, but was later retrieved by Gaga’s bodyguard. “I continue to love you Ryan Fischer, you risked your life to fight for our family. You’re forever a hero,” wrote Gaga on Instagram two days later.
As TMZ reported, Gaga — who was shooting a film in Rome during the attack — offered a $500,000 reward for her dogs safe return with “no questions asked,” but Koji and Gustav were recovered a couple of days later unharmed. According to the Associated Press, a woman said to be “uninvolved and unassociated” in the theft, brought the pooches to the LAPD’s Olympic Community Police Station in Los Angeles. Then, on March 1, 2021, Fischer detailed what happened to him and thanked his supporters.
“The gratitude for all the love I feel from around this planet is immense and intense,” he wrote on Instagram, adding, “I felt your healing support! … I am humbled and grateful that attention and focus from the police were enough to get Koji and Gustav back to safety, and I know they are committed to bringing these criminals and attempted murderers to justice.”
Joss Stone escaped a murder plot
British soul singer Joss Stone was the victim of a strange murder plot involving two British men, Junior Bradshaw and Kevin Liverpool, who were convicted of trying to behead her with a samurai sword. Yes, you read that correctly. Mirror reports that in 2011 both men traveled from Manchester, England to Stone’s home in Devon, England to carry out their wicked deed. And besides the sword, they brought gloves, bags, and knives with them. But their plan hit some serious snags from the beginning, because on their way to look for the singer, the men got into a car accident.
From there, they got lost and actually showed a local mailman a photo of Stone and asked him where she lived. In time, residents called police after seeing the men just miles from Stone’s home, and they were arrested. Police later found notes in the suspects’ shared apartment about The Soul Sessions singer that said she was the “devil in flesh,” who needed to be beheaded and have her body thrown into a river. After the men were convicted of conspiracy to murder and conspiracy to rob, Liverpool was slapped with a life sentence with a minimum of 10 years and eight months, while Bradshaw received a sentence of 18 years, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Amazingly, Stone later laughed the whole scary incident off in a chat with CNN, branding her would-be murderers “crazy lunatics,” who went “went Kill Bill on it” after they “sat and watched, like, way too many movies.”
Frank Sinatra Jr. was kidnapped
On Dec. 8, 1963, the late Frank Sinatra Jr. was kidnapped by two men in Lake Tahoe, Calif. Of course, Frank Jr. was the son of legendary crooner Frank Sinatra, and one of the kidnappers, Barry Keenan, went to high school with Frank’s daughter, Nancy Sinatra. Keenan linked up with accomplice Joe Amsler for the dastardly plan, which was ultimately foiled from the inside. But let’s start from the beginning.
Frank Jr., just 19 years old at the time, was just starting his singing career and played a show at Lake Tahoe’s Harrah’s Club Lodge, according to the FBI. Keenan and Amsler burst in on the young singer while he was lounging in his dressing room, at which point they blindfolded him and sped off with him in their car. It was eventually learned the kidnappers wanted $240,000 in ransom money for the famous son, which the FBI told Frank Sr. to pay, so they could work on catching the men, who were holed up with Frank Jr. in a Los Angeles suburb. But while Keenan and Amsler retrieved the ransom, a reportedly “nervous” third accomplice, John Irwin, let Frank Jr. go. Irwin then told his brother about the crime, who phoned FBI agents in San Diego. Keenan and Amsler were arrested and given life sentences. Irwin got 75 years, however, after various sentence reductions, the Los Angeles Times reported “each was released in less than five years.”
The raging debate of Shy Glizzy's snatched necklace
A necklace, two different accounts of what happened, and a hefty payment. These are just some of the details of the story of Washington D.C. rapper Shy Glizzy having his necklace stolen during a performance at a Memphis club in 2015. But Glizzy said the chain wasn’t taken, he lost it, and “broke boys had a f**king scrimmage” afterward, which he said in his song “Cut It.” According to HipHopDX, however, the men who had the chain said they snatched it off Glizzy’s neck because he wouldn’t record a verse for their rapper friend’s song. “I told u don’t come to Memphis u need all securitys at yo show,” a man nicknamed Dmuney wrote on Instagram.
The men also demanded Glizzy pay them $50,000 to get his chain back, as HNHH reported. Then later on Twitter, the “Like That” rapper responded to the robbery reports and doubled down on his claim that he lost it. “I Slip’d up and got comfortable,” he wrote in a now-deleted tweet, adding, “For every action, there’s a reaction.. Chain-reaction!” And later that same month, a video surfaced that showed Memphis rapper Blac Youngsta supposedly buying back Glizzy’s chain from the group for $10,000, so he could give it back to him. Crazy, right?
The strange story of Sylvester Stallone's stolen car
Car theft is a far too common problem in the United States. In fact, the Insurance Information Institute shows there were 873,080 auto thefts in the U.S. in 2020, a 9.2 increase from the previous year. Of course, people didn’t start swiping vehicles in 2020, and one person who knows that is Sylvester Stallone, who reportedly had his 1950 Mercury stolen from his garage in 1994. The car was the same one the actor drove in his film Cobra and more than likely, Stallone gave up hope of ever getting it back.
But shockingly, he spotted the $250,000 vehicle more than a decade later on an auction website and tried to retrieve it. The owner of the company, however, who provides film sets with cars, refused to give it back. So Stallone — who never accused the company of outright stealing the Mercury — filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles in 2009, demanding its return with a $3 million payment, as reported by TMZ. That’s because he accused the company of using his name and likeness “to promote the auction.”
Stallone eventually came out victorious in 2011, when TMZ reported that he and the company reached a settlement and the vehicle would be returned to him. But it’s not known if he was given money in addition to the car.
Who hacked Kris Jenner's closet cam? Also, who has a closet cam?
Keeping Up with the Kardashians fans may recall a 2015 episode when Kris Jenner’s assistant Kat told her some very disturbing news. And keep in mind, based on when the episode aired, this was slightly after several celebrities’ iPhones were hacked from the iCloud and nude photos of stars including Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, and Kirsten Dunst were all over the Internet.
“So, I just got word from our P.I. and I don’t want you to freak out, but whoever it is, might’ve gotten a video of you from your closet camera,” Jenner’s assistant told her. “They said you were naked. When they hacked your iCloud, I think they were still able to access that camera that’s in your closet.” Kat also said that whoever hacked Jenner’s phone demanded money to have the video returned. The Kardashian matriarch said she was shocked that people would do such a thing and called the act “sick and twisted.” “So, they’re going to blackmail me?” she asked. “Unless we figure out how to stop them, yeah,” Kat replied.
Fast forward to 2016 and a Newark, Calif. woman named Christina Elizabeth Bankston was arrested by federal agents for hacking into Jenner’s iCloud, harassing her through emails and text messages for over six months, and alleging to have obtained a “sex tape,” according to BuzzFeed. It’s not clear, however, if Bankston is the same person who was accused of getting footage of Jenner’s closet.
Harry Styles' footwear is a source of frustration
What is it with Harry Styles and his shoes? While speaking to Nick Grimshaw on Harry at the BBC, (via AP), the singer said he was once mobbed by fans as a member of One Direction, and before he knew it, he was missing a key element to his outfit. “We got off the train in Paris and I was walking and I ended up feeling like my feet weren’t touching the floor,” he said, adding, “I was floating along and then I got in the car and was like ‘I haven’t got any shoes on.’ That’s why I started wearing boots.”
While being mobbed and shoe-jacked is certainly odd and frightening in its own way, Styles was also once the victim of a decidedly scarier crime. Speaking with Howard Stern in March 2020, the “Watermelon Sugar” singer recounted the story of being robbed a knifepoint on Valentine’s Day in 2018 by a group of men in the Hampstead area of London. The assailants demanded cash and the singer’s phone, and while they tried to coerce him to “unlock” the device, Styles fled into the street, desperately attempting to flag down passing cars for help. When none stopped, he “sprinted” away, which proved quite difficult, because, as he put it, he was wearing “corduroy flares and shoes.”
Thankfully, the robbers didn’t pursue him, but it’s tough to overstate how problematic footwear seems to have been for this singing sensation.
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