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All the scammers of the summer of scam, ranked

Since Anna Delvey cheated her way onto the NY socialite scene, fraudsters seem to be popping up everywhere

At the end of May, a deep-diving feature from The Cut brought Anna Delvey, a German heiress big-spender in New York’s most exclusive social scene – actually Anna Sorokin, the daringly duplicitous (and not particularly wealthy) Russian-born daughter of a former truck driver – firmly into the public eye. The day after The Cut’s article, a press release from the Southern District of Florida detailed an impersonation scheme in which a Florida man pretended to be a Saudi prince to cheat millions out of investors and live a princely lifestyle. So began the ‘summer of scam’ – and man, it’s been a busy one. We revisit some of the highlights (lowlights?) ranking them according to film’s from Hollywood’s scammy canon.   


Thomas J. Mace-Archer-Mills, Esq. really shouldn’t have lasted as long as he did. The name is quite obviously the product of someone asking: ‘What’s the most English name I can think up?’ and just going with the first thing that came to mind. However, the British monarchy expert impersonator, the Italian-American Tommy Muscatello Jr. from upstate New York, kept his ruse up pretty successfully. He scored gigs reporting on Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding, chaired the British Monarchist Society, and founded the royalist magazine Crown & Country, all the while acting as a tweed-cap-wearing Brit.

Score: The Usual Suspects (For managing, through his signature ‘British’ charm, to get away completely scot-free, despite profiting from his invented character.)


For those that have been living under a rock, the luxury, $1,200 a ticket (minimum) Fyre Festival majorly fell through when excited guests arrived to find music acts had pulled out, the accommodation was some half-built disaster tents, and the catering service consisted of cheese sandwiches under a gazebo. Founder Billy McFarland was arrested in June 2017 for completely misleading over 80 investors and a ticket broker, defrauding them out of more than $26 million. He admitted to the charges, but did he learn? No. He was arrested again this year, June 12, for reportedly earning $100,000 from selling fake tickets to events like Coachella and the Met Gala through another company he controlled. He now could be looking at even more time behind bars.

Score: Wolf of Wall Street (Billy McFarland’s white-collar brand of scheming is pretty close to Leo DiCaprio’s Jordan Belfort’s. Not a compliment, btw.)


What links Spiderman: Homecoming producer Amy Pascal, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, 20th Century Fox CEO Stacey Snider, and Homeland producer Lesli Linka Glatter? They’ve all (unknowingly) been at the centre of a Hollywood scam and – more shockingly – were all believed to be impersonated by the same mysterious woman. A July 11 investigation by The Hollywood Reporter details how the ‘Con Queen’ has charmed hairstylists, stuntmen, photographers, cinematographers, and even military advisors – sometimes with Skype sex – into flying out to Indonesia to work on a ‘secret project’. When they got there, they’d be told they’d need to put forward a few thousand dollars for the production. And after that, the scammer would disappear without a trace.

She’s thought to have made hundreds of thousands of dollars out of the ruse, but the small amounts stolen from each individual – apparently under $3,000 in most cases – means that there’s little law enforcement can do. Being mostly rich Hollywood professionals, the victims have taken on high-profile investigative firms, but they have little evidence to go on; all the victims have been able to offer is that her faux-British accent (which is poor) sounds vaguely Asian. K2 have even posited that she might only be the face (or voice, rather) of a small group of scam-artists.

Score: Argo (A fake film crew is flown out to a fake rendezvous in Asia to pull off an ambitious act of deception. Sound familiar?)


One-time Vogue employee Yvonne Bannigan’s apparently unauthorised use of the renowned model and previous Vogue creative director-at-large Grace Coddington’s credit card was exposed by the New York Post on May 30 this year, though the former assistant has since claimed it was all just a big “misunderstanding”. Bannigan, when she was working for the red-haired fashion icon, allegedly racked up over $50,000 on the then-editor’s credit card before she was arrested in April 2018. She also reportedly sold Coddington’s personal property online and kept the $9,000 commission for herself. She has rejected a plea deal and protests her innocence. 

Score: Ocean’s 8 (In both cases there’s the ‘pawning’ of fashion items for profit. A tenuous link? Maybe, but we’re going with it.)


In 2012, Anthony Gignac, a Colombian native, was released from a 12-month stint prison for impersonating a foreign diplomat, a crime he pled guilty to in 2008 (though he’s yet to plead guilty for his biggest crime: his haircut). Shortly after, he travelled to the Florida Keys to ‘visit his brother’ and ‘alleviate his depression’. Of course, he just couldn’t resist getting back to his old tricks; he’d already been to prison multiple times before his most recent arrest last November for identity theft, and wasn’t showing any signs of stopping. This time, portraying himself as Saudi royalty, Gignac apparently boasted of a $600 million bank account and high-status international business contacts to wangle himself a penthouse apartment on Fisher Island – only accessible by helicopter or boat, obvs – and drove around in a Ferrari with fake diplomatic plates (eBay never fails to provide the goods). He is due to be sentenced next month. 

Score: Catch Me If You Can (Gignac constantly reinvented himself in the same way Leonardo DiCaprio – appearing for a second time this list! – cycles through fake identities in Spielberg’s cat-and-mouse tale.)


Shannade Clermont – one half of model/influencer/designer duo the Clermont Twins – bagged a role in Kanye West’s innovative Yeezy 6 and Yeezy Supermoon campaigns this year. She was also arrested on July 11, for allegedly purloining a client’s credit card information during a meeting for sex work and using said information to spend over $20,000 on clothing, plane tickets, rent, and phone bills. Clermont was rumbled when the client was found dead from an overdose the morning after – though she’s not implicated in the death – and the resulting investigation revealed that ‘he’ was still making purchases left right and center. The model is now facing a maximum of 20 years in prison for wire fraud, 15 years for access device fraud, and a mandatory minimum sentence of two years for aggravated identity theft.

Score: L.A. Confidential (Lynn Bracken, Kim Basinger’s call girl in L.A. Confidential, uses seduction to get what she wants. Sure, she’s after her freedom, not $20,000 to spend on clothes etc, but still – close enough.)


This list can’t be complete without the scammer that kicked it all off herself: the aforementioned Anna Delvey. Delvey’s charade was almost impressive in its scope: in Gucci sandals and Céline glasses, she swindled and scammed her way up the socialite ladder. She lived in a luxurious NY hotel for three months without spending a penny of her own money, instead ‘disappearing’ $62,000 of Vanity Fair photo editor Rachel Deloache Williams’ cash. She also gave banks the slip and cashed dodgy cheques to maintain a luxurious lifestyle of gift-giving, eating in the best spots, and shopping luxury designers such as Rick Owens (conveniently located just across the street from her hotel).

Before it all caught up to her – she’s now locked up at Rikers Island, NY, which she claims isn’t that bad – she supposedly wanted to launch an art-focused club akin to Soho House, across LA, London, Hong Kong, and Dubai. Whether this was just a ploy to extract more money from willing investors or not we’ll probably never know, but regardless she dreamt big.

Score: National Treasure (Delvey dreamt big, like Nic Cage when he recites his iconic line: “I’m gonna steal the Declaration of Independence”. Besides, Delvey is a kind of American national treasure in herself – even if she does hail from Russia – perfectly embodying a self-made, do-it-yourself, capitalist morality. Or lack thereof).