Scammers, con artists, con artists, imposters and con artists are the focus of Generation Hustle, which recounts some of the most ingenious scams of the last decade. ET spoke with HBO Max project creator and executive producer Yon Motskin as well as director Martha Shane about what you need to know about the scams featured in the 10-part true crime documentary series and why it’s okay to enjoy them. incredibly true stories.
“We live in the age of the grift,” says Motskin of building a series around the ideas of “invention and reinvention.”
“It is about money on the surface, but in most cases, I think money is just the starting point and it becomes something bigger, deeper and more complicated, be it identity, class, identity. fame or status, ”he continues. “Just being someone you are not, I think has always captured my imagination and has captured the imagination of many people.”
Each of the independent episodes offers a fresh and concise look at the various crimes or acts of deception committed by Anna Sorokin (aka the fake German heiress known as Anna Delvey), the Queen of Hollywood, and rap and scam artist Teejayx6. . The series also dives into the fascinating rise and fall of WeWork, an attempt to create the “Silicon Valley of the East” and a failed frat boy Ponzi scheme.
“The series really looks at how changes in our contemporary world, like the rise of social media, for example, have changed what it means to be a con man or a con man today,” adds Shane, who directed two episodes, including one about Sorokin. . . “It’s made it easier in some way and harder in some way to get away with it.”
And when it comes to Sorokin’s story, she saw it as “really all about Instagram.”
While each episode tells an unexpected story of real-life criminals, facing very real consequences, Motskin did not “want to glorify” their illegal acts, “but at the same time, there is nothing wrong with watching people do interesting things. and get away with that. “
He adds: “They are fun to see and accompany them on the journey. We wanted to do something that was light, that pop and fun to watch, and also twisted and pulpy, while still scratching deeper stuff when we could. “
Hollywood queen (Episode 1)
A man posing as Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, former Sony Pictures president Amy Pascal, Rupert Murdoch’s ex-wife Wendi Deng, among others, became known as the “Hollywood queenAfter it was discovered he was cheating several Hollywood wannabes and promisers out of thousands of dollars. He would convince these concert workers to self-fund trips to Southeast Asia, where they believed there was a lucrative project that would take them to the next level. Instead, they found fee after fee that would never be refunded. Hargobind Tahilramani, who was arrested in November 2020 For allegedly impersonating female executives and leading the scam, he faces eight federal charges including wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.
Ian Bick (Episode 2)
At age 20, Ian Bick, a nerdy teenager turned EDM entrepreneur, charged by the federal government of running a $ 500,000 Ponzi scheme from home while packing crowds at Danbury, Connecticut’s Tuxedo Junction club for regular raves. As his life as a budding mogul grew, so did his taste for a VIP lifestyle that reportedly included first-class travel, high-end shopping, and brand-new jet skis. To finance this, Bick, who was finally doomed For six counts of wire fraud and one count of money laundering, he allegedly began soliciting investors for an eBay business and scammed them out of $ 450,000 plus another $ 100,000 from various friends and family.
Jeremy wilson (Episode 3)
The charming and handsome Jeremy Wilson assumed and lived out many identities before he was finally outwitted by a New York City cop. He was a war hero and decorated Special Forces captain, a Hollywood journalist, the loving son of an infamous terrorist, an MIT graduate, and an IRA operative as he moved from one side of the country to the other, fooling the people. along the path. Your plans even drawn comparisons famous con artist Frank Abagnale Jr., whose life was narrated in Catch Me If You Can. But things finally came to an end when he was caught and finally given a 81 month federal sentence for the fraud he committed in 2009.
Anna sorokin (Episode 4)
As Anna Delvey, a German heiress hoping to launch a lavish SoHo House-style art club in various hot spots around the country, Sorokin scammed her new friends out of thousands of dollars while always promising to pay them back. One of those friends was Rachel Williams, a young employee of Vanity fair, who was stuck with a $ 60,000 bill for a glamorous trip to Marrakech, Morocco. When Sorokin ran away, Williams and others began to pursue her and eventually involved the police. In 2019, Sorokin was convicted of multiple charges, including second-degree grand theft and robbery of services.
We work (Episode 5)
Valued at $ 47 billion, WeWork became one of Silicon Valley’s last so-called “unicorns” before it all started to fall apart. Co-founded by Adam Neumann, WeWork is a flexible shared workspace company that promised to reshape the business environment for a new generation. But as the company grew rapidly, thanks to Neumann’s charisma and firm belief that he was changing the world, so did his many financial problems and issues. Soon after, the company key investors lost, was not made public and lost the faith of its dedicated employees and supporters who believed Neumann was leading them to the promised land.
William Baekeland (Episode 6)
The young and aristocratic William Baekeland allegedly made his way to an exclusive group of wealthy world travelers only to disappear along with hundreds of thousands of their dollars. According to Rolling Stone, “It is estimated that he pocketed around $ 835,000 from about 20 people.” And over time, “the young man made at least two successful trips, but there were nine more that paid in part or in full but, due to decisions made by the travelers or by Baekeland, they did not arrive. happen. They claim that Baekeland owes them money for these trips. “
Syed arbab (Episode 7)
Shortly after committing to his college fraternity, Syed Arbab raised approximately $ 1 million from students, alumni, and friends to start a hedge fund, making him an instant campus legend. During that time, he began to spend the investments on his luxurious new lifestyle, including trips to Las Vegas. But when the market crashed, his hedge fund collapsed and the 23-year-old went bankrupt dealing cocaine and defrauding investors. Eventually, the federal government took notice and was sentenced to 60 months in prison after pleading guilty to one count of securities fraud for running a Ponzi scheme that resulted in hundreds of victims.
Anthony Gignac (Episode 8)
Posing as Prince Khalid, Anthony Gignac went from an orphan born in Colombia and raised by his adoptive parents in Michigan to a life of rich and fabulous. Whether it was flying high with real estate moguls or convincing banks to grant you lines of credit, Gignac perpetuated a masquerade of 30 years. Before being arrested in 2017, he built a network of investors to fund his bogus deals with one, Saudi Aramco, valued at $ 1.8 trillion, while he reportedly raised $ 8 million and he used that money to maintain his conspicuous lifestyle, as he pretended to be a member of one of the richest families in the world.
Kyle sandler (Episode 9)
With the promise of making Opelika the “Silicon Valley of the East,” small-town Alabama residents were delighted with self-proclaimed Google alumnus Kyle Sandler. To fund this transformation, it launched the Round House business incubator, which received “investments totaling approximately $ 1.9 million from more than 50 investors.” However, instead of investing in the city, Associated Press reports that Sandler was “diverting his money for his personal expenses, such as childcare, rent, and cars.” But it all started to fall apart when Round House fostered a 14-year-old local inventor’s idea to create a vending machine with injury-specific products and a suspicious $ 30 million purchase soon followed.
Teejayx6 (Episode 10)
A self-proclaimed con artist, Teejayx6 has made a rap career with teaching his listeners how to commit various setbacks built around the digital age. As his following grew and his music attracted attention, the Detroit-based performer behind the tracks “Dark Web” and “Black Lives Matter,” managed to scam the industry on a coveted record deal on one of America’s biggest labels.
Not to be confused with the HBO teen drama Max. Generation, Generation Hustle is a Jigsaw Productions and CNN Original Studios production, with episodes directed by Motskin (“Hollywood With Queen”, “Cult of WeWork”, “Baekeland”), Shane (“Anna Delvey Takes Manhattan”, “The Alabama Exit”) also like George Plamondon (“Party’s Over”, “Frat Boy Ponzi”), Jeremiah Crowell (“The 23 Lives of Jeremy Wilson”, “Prince of Fraud”) and Yemisi Brookes (“A Rhythm Scam”).
All 10 episodes of Generation Hustle they are available to air on Thursday, April 22 on HBO Max.