Con Artists Swindle Woman Out of Over $800,000 via 'Leonardo DiCaprio & Scientology' Scheme

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The scammer sought to convince his victim that he, "Leonardo DiCaprio", needed her financial assistance in order to break free from the Church of Scientology.
An online scam artist managed to con a 54-year old widow and a mother of two out of several hundred thousand dollars by pretending to be famous celebrity Leonardo DiCaprio, American journalist Tony Ortega wrote in The Daily Beast.
The victim, whom the media outlet identified only as Denise, first came in contact with the scammer on Twitter back in 2018, and while she was initially reluctant to believe that her vis-à-vis really was DiCaprio, they eventually became well acquainted, communicating via Twitter private messages, Gmail Hangouts, email, and even exchanging "a few rushed phone calls".
"We developed a terrific friendship within a couple months and he always insisted that I call him ‘Leo’", Denise reminisced.
Things came to a head when “Leo” told her that he needed $750,000 to “fulfil his obligations” to the Church of Scientology (CoS), presenting Denise with a letter written to him on a church letterhead.
"'Leo' soon revealed that all of his own personal wealth, hundreds of millions of dollars, was actually being controlled by the CoS, and he couldn’t get access to any of it unless he paid the $750,000 sum", the woman said.
The scammer asked Denise for help, claiming that "the church and his management team had control over his financial affairs and his entire life", and that he "couldn’t do anything without their approval, including traveling or making any major purchases".
"Leo" also claimed that the CoS was "guilty of human trafficking, slavery, rape, and every financial crime under the sun", and that he needed Denise’s financial assistance to break free of the organisation.
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By the end of 2018, the woman ended up making payments totalling $256,000 to several of “Leo’s” go-betweens and, despite her eventually sensing that something was amiss, her total payments to the scammers reached $813,000.
Finally, in March 2022, she reached out to Ortega, telling him via email that she had information about "DiCaprio" trying to leave scientology and, having spent several weeks gathering documents related to Denise’s ordeal, the journalist shared his conclusions with her: the person Denise was in contact with was not DiCaprio, and the scammers she communicated with actually “didn’t know the slightest thing about Scientology".
Several days after that conversation with Denise, during which Ortega texted "Leo" and two other individuals involved in the scheme, the journalist contacted the woman and inquired whether she had heard anything from the scammers, to which she replied negatively.
And while the odds of Denise getting her money back seem rather slim, to put it mildly, she said that she was ready to move forward, which Ortega said "sounded positive, even if she still had some nagging doubts".
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