Jay Z Targeted By Extortion Attempt, Plus 7 Other Celebrity Shakedowns

Fame, fortune, extortion — three characteristics of the lifestyles of successful celebs like Jay Z, who became the target of an extortion attempt, reportedly, by an engineer who claimed to have $15-20 million worth of Jay's master recordings. Jay got the law involved, plus producer Just Blaze tweeted some damaging information about the engineer that makes him appear like nothing more than an inept opportunist. Unfortunately, Jay Z joins a growing list of other famous folks who've been on the receiving end of similar schemes. Here are seven other celebs who dealt with extortion attempts.

Paula Deen

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Last September, Deen came face to face with an uninvited dinner guest attempting to snatch crumbs from her plate. Fresh off Deen’s racial discrimination scandal, George Paculis claimed hard times prompted his plan to extort the celebrity chef for $200,000, but in the end, the ill-fated plot earned him two years in prison.

Kris Jenner

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Living up to the family’s legacy of sex tape scandals, an extortionist targeted Keeping Up With the Kardashians’ Kris Jenner, threatening to leak the footage unless she paid up. Although Jenner contacted authorities and increased security, she claimed the tape simply didn’t exist.

David Letterman

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Talk show host David Letterman faced an extortion plot so crucial that he admitted to having sex with a few of his female employees on the Late Show, information a disgruntled 48 Hours producer planned to reveal unless he was paid $2 million.

Bill Cosby

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In 1997, Cosby found himself at the center of the one of the most salacious celebrity extortion attempts ever when a 23-year-old woman tried to convince Cosby to pay her to keep the most expensive secret ever. Autumn Jackson claimed Cosby was her father, agreeing to keep his indiscretions to herself for $40 million. Making Jackson’s demands even more heartless was the fact that Cosby’s son Ennis was murdered that same day.

John Travolta

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In 2009, a paramedic proved that extortionists know no bounds when he demanded $25 million for a medical document Travolta believed would infer that he was responsible for the tragic death of Travolta’s 16-year-old son Jett. A judge eventually dismissed the charges, after the grief-stricken actor refused to return to the Bahamas to testify at a second trial.

Cindy Crawford

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When Crawford and her husband Randy Gerber fired their nanny in 2009, they probably assumed that would be the last they’d hear from her. But when a controversial photo she snapped of the couple’s then 7-year-old daughter resurfaced in the hands of someone else, they found themselves negotiating with an extortionist who threatened to sell the photo unless they paid him more money.

Harvey Weinstein

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In September, a D-list actor’s attempts to climb the ranks by trying to swindle movie producer Harvey Weinstein failed miserably. A court found 26-year-old Vivek Shah guilty of extortion and sentenced him to seven years and three months in federal prison.