Hollywood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein might be the most high-profile subject of the multimillion dollar extortion scandal that is blowing up in the news, but this story hits closer to home.
Behind that sinister plot was 25-year-old Vivek Shah, an aspiring actor who sent letters to the five subjects, including in each "a threat to kill named members of the recipient's family unless a large sum of money was wired to an offshore bank account." Shah went to great lengths to cover his tracks, using pre-paid credit cards, a fake drivers license, free Starbucks WiFi and Google voice.
An aspiring actor sent letters to the five subjects, including in each "a threat to kill named members of the recipient's family unless a large sum of money was wired to an offshore bank account."
The Smoking Gun first reported that Shah, who was visiting his family in Chicago when he was arrested by federal officers on Aug. 10, was just days away from a scheduled handgun shooting lesson in Los Angeles.
In an official affidavit that outlined the evidence supporting Shah's arrest, one of Duncan's daughters is identified as "Individual 4, a Texas resident and the child of a late founder of another oil and gas company."
Duncan and his heirs made headlines upon his death in 2010, the year that the estate tax lapsed due to an impasse in the U.S. Senate. That brought national stories of a tax-free pass on the estimated $9 billion that Duncan left behind, which would have left the inheritance of his four children and four grandchildren untouched. A Duncan spokesperson told CultureMap that his heirs received no benefit from the loophole however.
Other alleged targets of this new extortion scheme include Christopher Cline, a billionaire coal magnate; Eric Lefkofsky, co-founder of Groupon; and Terry Pegula, an oil exec and owner of the NHL's Buffalo Sabres.