Hollywood Con Queen on Apple TV+: Valuable money lessons to learn from the documentary

Social media vulnerability highlighted through real-life scams involving promises of work opportunities and fake identities. Lessons learned from Hollywood Con Queen and Wedding.con series on Apple TV+ and Amazon Prime Video.

Manisha lakhe
First Published11 May 2024, 10:53 AM IST
Real-life scams exposed in Hollywood Con Queen and Wedding.con series emphasise the risks of sharing personal information on social media.
Real-life scams exposed in Hollywood Con Queen and Wedding.con series emphasise the risks of sharing personal information on social media. (https://www.apple.com/tv-pr/news/2024/04/apple-tv-debuts-trailer-for-hollywood-con-queen-premiering-globally-may-8/)

We put so much of our lives out on social media without a thought isn’t it? We share our work, our successes, our moments of happiness on social media because that’s what everyone does. We even share our vulnerable moments, our sadness as well. Nothing wrong with that, you say?

As long as you know that there are people out there who can take advantage of it all. And I’m not saying that your boss found out that you went to watch a cricket match (you posted pictures!) instead of missing work because ‘grandma died’.

If you missed the show on Amazon Prime Video titled ‘Wedding.con’ then do watch. It showcases how otherwise smart women fall prey to men who promise marriage and love. Something that is missing in their lives. But there’s a bigger scam that was unearthed that seems geographically further away from us, but shows us how the promise of work opportunities make us even more vulnerable. Hollywood Con Queen on Apple TV+ will serve as a warning for everyone, especially you, the savvy investor.

Also Read: The Fall Guy: Valuable money lessons from Ryan Gosling's new film

If you’re good at something, never do it for free

You’re an actor, and you get a casting call from one of Hollywood’s biggest producers, saying that they liked your work (showcased on the Gram), and can give you a chance as long as you take martial arts classes they recommend. It’s Covid time, and this is a chance to work with Tom Cruise! Of course you shell out money for the online lessons.

You’re a photographer, and a very important film producer offers you a chance to pitch your work to Netflix as a nature series! They tell you you will be reimbursed for the efforts so you fly to Jakarta, not once, not twice but many times!

People across the world lost more than 2 million dollars (and that’s just the known amount from people who came forward with their stories) to a conman who impersonated famous women Hollywood studio executives. 

Also Read: Tortured Poets Department: 5 valuable money lessons from Taylor Swift’s new album

Imagine if you received a call from a top firm with a chance to work on a project or even interview with a top boss. Would you share this information with your work colleagues? Or quietly go for the interview or burn the candle on that project, putting in your own money because you will be reimbursed? 

So paraphrasing the Joker from Batman, ‘If you’re good at something, never do it for free.’ The chances of being duped by promises diminish (and mostly vanish) if you demand a ‘development fee’ or an advance. If they value your talent, then they can cough up the advance, no?

Due diligence is a must!

The conman Hargobind Tahilramani (Indonesian lad of Indian origin, living in the UK) went by many names. One of the professional photographers whom he conned, to shoot pictures (and videos) of him for his food Instagram, incurred many expenses - like promising to pay celebrity chefs to pose with the conman, because he believed Hargobind was Gavin Ambani, a cousin of ‘the’ Ambani family in India. 

The British photographer checks who the Ambani family is, but then allows himself to be manipulated with the stories Gavin was spinning. 

Also Read: Baby Reindeer on Netflix: Unveiling the hidden money lessons every viewer needs

Nicole Kotsianas whose firm investigated the scam and created a mountain of evidence for the FBI who knew Hargobind was on their radar but had not followed it up. She did so diligently by following the pattern of the scam. Even writer Scott Johnson figured out where the scammer was located by figuring out the location from the Instagram video.

These are following up on evidence after the fact. You, dear savvy investor must do your due diligence before you put your hard earned money into any scheme. No matter who the celebrity richie rich is associated with the financial instrument. 

This show drags on a bit but it shows how the most talented are also vulnerable. And yes, watch Wedding.con too, to understand how even the smartest and tech-savvy folk too can be only too human.   

Manisha Lakhe is a poet, film critic, traveller, founder of Caferati — an online writer’s forum, hosts Mumbai’s oldest open mic, and teaches advertising, films and communication. She can be reached on Twitter at @manishalakhe.

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First Published:11 May 2024, 10:53 AM IST
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