A Decades-Old Pyramid Scheme Is Making A Comeback On Instagram

One thing I love about the 2000s is how every trend just gets regurgitated. Tie-dye from middle school? I never thought that would be popular again, but here we are and it’s all the rage. Chokers had their moment in the early 2000s and again for the past few years. But not all reemerging trends are good ones—some should just stay buried. For example, I really never wanted to see low-rise jeans make a comeback. And another thing? Chain emails. Although in modern times, chain emails tend to be less of actual emails you forward on to everyone in your contact list, and more of random memes that circulate the internet that your parents and older relatives fall for (like that one that claims drinking water will kill coronavirus because… stomach acids kill the virus). Well, there’s a new chain in town—and by “in town” I mean “circulating the internet”, one that promises a return of $800, guaranteed, if you just “buy in” by sending $100 to a stranger via Cash App. That’s right, folks, we’ve got a good old fashioned pyramid scheme mixed with a chain email on our hands. We love a good crossover episode. But before you fork over $100 of your stimulus check, let’s think through why this “new” money-making scheme might be a bad investment.

Because I’m deeply fascinated by multilevel marketing and pyramid schemes (some people would call it “unhealthily obsessed”), I caught onto a sort of meme making its rounds on the internet, and therefore, within anti-MLM circles called the Cash App circle or Cash App wheel. It starts with a picture of a wheel that’s divided into 15 different sections, each section assigned to a different person.

And then there are the instructions.

Okay, first of all, if you have to insist that the moneymaking initiative you’re running is not a pyramid scheme, I feel like that’s a pretty good indicator that it is, in fact, a pyramid scheme.

Second of all, while this seems simple to execute, I’d argue that it’s far from easy. Have you ever tried to recruit two people to dinner plans, pre-quarantine? Not exactly easy to get people to commit, is it? And then you have to get a bunch of other randos who also need to buy in, all before the scheme collapses or gets shut down?

Now, I’m not a financial expert, nor do I work in the FBI fraud division (yet). But I can tel you that this Cash App scheme looks a lot like other pyramid schemes. Same premise, different shape.

In the late 1980s, something called the “Airplane game” started popping up around the country in places like Oklahoma, Miami, Tampa, Rochester, Los Angeles, and others. The idea was this: someone, who would be later referred to as the “pilot”, would start the game. They would then recruit two people to pay into the game and become “co-pilots”. A 1987 Associated Press article reported that the entry fee to become a co-pilot could go up to $1,000 or more, but was typically $100. Sound familiar yet?

The pilots would then recruit two players each, who would also pay the entry fee. Those four would become “flight attendants”. The flight attendants would then—you’re probably getting the hang of this now—recruit two passengers each. Here’s how the pilot would get money, per AP: “When a plane is full – say, with 14 entries – the pilot has $1,400 and the pyramid splits in half, with the co-pilots becoming pilots, flight attendants becoming co-pilots, and passengers becoming flight attendants.” The flight attendants would then have to recruit new passengers, who would pay the $100 entry fee, so “the pyramid continues splitting and growing.”

Or, if you need a visual interpretation:

the office pyramid scheme

In 1987, the Associated Press called the airplane game “the newest twist on the age-old illegal pyramid scheme.” It led to at least 17 arrests in New York and four in Los Angeles. In other words, it was not legal.

But 1987 is practically ancient history, believers might say. And plus, this is a circle, not an airplane. Totally different shape, totally not a scheme. And to you, I see your argument and raise you: one Blessings Loom. The Blessings Loom is basically the exact same scheme as the airplane scheme, and it’s existed since at least 2016. It’s also been referred to as a Christmas Wheel, Snowflake Blessing, or Infinity Loom, and guys, it’s the exact same sh*t as this Cash App circle. According to a 2016 Consumer Affairs article, “Facebook users must deposit at least $100 into a PayPal or Whatsapp account. They’re promised an $800 payout if they can recruit two other people to do the same.” I would take this time to facetiously ask you if that sounded familiar, but I’m not going to insult your intelligence, because they are exactly the f*cking same. This is a half-hearted rebrand of the same scheme.

Even back in 2016, the Mississippi Attorney General at the time called it a “pyramid scheme”, and the FTC called it a Ponzi scheme. Whatever type of scheme you prefer to classify it as, promoters can face fines or even jail time, depending on the state, and it can also lead to your Facebook or Instagram account getting shut down, since it violates the Facebook terms of service.

And remember how I said I’m not a financial expert? That’s still true, so I spoke to a Bank of America expert who warns, “The risk of falling victim to a fraudulent money scheme can increase during financially stressful times, as scammers aim to take advantage of vulnerable people and uncertain situations.” While it may sound tempting, Bank of America advises, “Never send money or give out personal information to an unknown recipient, especially in response to an unexpected request, and don’t pay upfront for a promised return.” Don’t deposit a check into your account so you can wire someone back a couple hundred dollars, don’t pay some person in your DMs $100 with the hopes of eventually getting $800—just don’t do it, ok?

The Bank of America expert emphasizes, “When it comes to personal finance—especially at an uncertain time like this—focus on tried-and-true tactics. Keep your budget updated, track your spending closely and remember: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”

So, listen. The next time a girl who bullied you in high school tries to slide in your DMs to sell you on a pyramid scheme, just say no. You won’t get your money back, you could end up in jail (jail, Ron, jail)—even though that seems kind of unlikely given the times, but whatever—and you could lose your Facebook or Instagram account. And worst of all? You’ll look like an idiot, and I can guarantee that whatever number of people you manage to recruit, double that number will be talking sh*t about you for falling for this scheme.

Images: Giphy; cashappcircle_1 / Instagram

Crazy Wedding Story Of The Week: Bride Scams Friends & Family Out Of $30K In Wedding Donations

Whether you hate the wedding-industrial complex, are a bride planning a wedding and want to feel better about your own demands, or just need something to read, we’re doing a new series where we share the craziest, most out-of-touch wedding story we found on the internet that week. Submit your own crazy wedding stories to [email protected] with the subject line Crazy Wedding Story, and we just might feature yours. And make sure to follow @BetchesBrides on Instagram and subscribe to our podcast, Betches Brides.

Welcome back to another Crazy Wedding Story of the week. This one is especially crazy and convoluted. It has everything: a ridiculously demanding bride, angry family members threatening to sue, and a twist you definitely won’t see coming. You’re so welcome that I’ve brought you this juicy incident to brighten your Wednesday. I know, I know—I deserve a f*cking medal. Or, in lieu of a medal, I will also accept $30,000 in donations—you’ll see why in a sec. I can’t really give an introduction to this story without giving too much of it away, so let’s just cut right to the chase.

The Set-Up

Today’s crazy wedding story comes to us via the Choosing Beggars subreddit, which proves in and of itself to be gold. The premise of the subreddit is exposing choosy beggars, i.e., people who expect ridiculous freebies for no good reason. Highly recommend for your procrastinating-at-work pleasure. So when someone posted screenshots to r/choosingbeggars of a Facebook post in which a bride reveals she’s canceling her wedding after receiving a whopping $30,000 in donations, the post quickly went viral on the subreddit. Just in case we have some dirty deleting on our hands, here’s the screenshot of what went down:

HOLY SH*T. First of all, it’s nuts that this couple managed to raise $30,000 BEFORE the wedding. But that’s obviously not the real issue here. How in the actual sh*t does someone think it’s okay to collect tens of thousands of dollars from their friends and family, then pull a bait-and-switch? Then ask for MORE money and gifts?? The audacity of these people. I would be mildly impressed if I didn’t want to slap the sh*t out of them.

The thing with donating money to a cause is that you typically expect the money you give will, in fact, go to that cause. Sooooo flip-flopping and saying that you suddenly need to use that money for a lavish honeymoon BEFORE you’re even married (which, let’s be real, is simply a vacation) and to get yourselves financially stable, makes actually zero sense.

Here’s a hot tip: if you’re not financially stable, you probs shouldn’t be taking a $30k honeymoon. I’m no business insider, but that seems like pretty legit advice, right?

Also, you know that “rescheduled wedding” ain’t happenin’ and this is just a blatant cash grab. If I knew this person, not only would they not get another gift from me for their honeymoon, but they would never see another cent from me as long as we both shall live.

The Backlash

NATURALLY, every family member, guest, and wedding party member rightly freaked the f*ck out. The screenshots for you, my loves:

There’s so much more than even these, but can I get a rich uncle who just gives me like $12k? That’d be tight. Also, can we not with the one bridesmaid that’s like “I gave you $200 and I love you—I’m such a good friend”? Alright, Gretchen Wieners, take it easy.

The Plot Thickens

If the initial post and comments seemed a little wild even for the average psycho wedding story, you aren’t alone in being all, “hmmm.”

The detectives at Buzzfeed did some sleuthing and it looks as though this entire incident could have been a marketing ploy by some bullsh*t company. I mean, good job, marketing assholes. The post went up on Reddit on Monday and quickly was shared, like, everywhere because of how purely insane it is.

More screenshots of the family responses popped up on Monday night, but only via some f*cking website we’ve never heard of called CapturedIt.club, which seems a little weird. When it did go up, literally NOTHING ELSE was on the website. Sketch.

Any additional “comments” from family members had the Captured It Club watermark, which, like, again, seems a bit odd. If these are real screenshots, why are they watermarked with some rando website’s name? Damn, how did none of us pick up on this? I feel like a fool. Even more questionable, none of the Facebook posts had any reactions, which is pretty weird. You would think something of this caliber would be a sea of angry face emojis, wow faces, and dislike buttons. The nail in the coffin, though, is that GoFundMe has no record of a bride named Pam and her supposed fiancé, Edward. And despite mentioning an Amazon registry in her original post, no such Amazon registry for a Pam and Edward exists.

And, after Buzzfeed published their article exposing the fact that this whole story may have been a PR stunt, capturedit.club took everything down off their website and replaced it with this screenshot:

$30,000 in wedding donations

So… it looks like we’ve all been hustled, scammed, bamboozled, led astray. But now I have more questions than answers. Who/what is Ben Hobbs? What the f*ck is the point of this capturedit.club website in the first place? Why were we all so eager to believe that someone would scam their friends and family out of $30,000?

I guess I’ve got to hand it to the people behind this weird-ass website for fooling us all. But, honestly, I’m kind of sad this isn’t real. What does that say about me? Perhaps I’ll grapple with these existential dilemmas in next week’s crazy wedding story.

Images: Vitaliy Karimov / Shutterstock.com; Choosing Beggars / Reddit (6)

Everything We Know About The New Anna Delvey Netflix Series

If there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that I have truly been living for America’s favorite scammer: Anna Delvey. Last year felt like The Year of The Scam when story after story fed the news cycle about people getting screwed over by con artists, but none were so captivating as the story of the broke millennial who managed to scam New York’s elite, and one Vanity Fair photo editor, out of all of their money, one happy hour and lavish vacation at a time. An icon, truly. 

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Anna Delvey’s story, then may I just say, what a magical place must be the rock you live under. Do you also consider your home to be an enchanted tower where your only means of exiting is via the 40-foot-long braid you grew from your own head? Because I’m seriously at a loss as to how you could have missed the SCAM TO END ALL SCAMS. But fine, mole people, I suppose I’ll humor you. Anna Delvey aka Anna Sorokin posed as a German heiress and managed to infiltrate her way into Manhattan’s elite social scene before conning her friends and business partners out of a cool $275,000. Since her trial and sentencing last year (she’s currently sending selfies from Rikers Island, where she’ll be for the next 4-12 years serving time for her fraud), her story has continued to fuel the news cycle and also my will to live. More recently, My Friend Anna, a tell-all book written by Rachel Deloache Williams, one of Anna’s former friends and victims, was published over the summer. And now, friends, it gets even better, because Netflix released casting details about the series they are producing based on the fake heiress’ life. 

The show, entitled Inventing Anna, is based  off of Jessica Pressler’s original damning 2018 New York Magazine article “How Anna Delvey Tricked New York’s Party People” and will focus on the relationship between Anna and a journalist who attempts to get to the truth about Anna amidst her trial. Who will take on the small screen adaptation of such a sordid and twisted tale, you ask? MOTHERF*CKING SHONDA RHIMES, THAT’S WHO. That’s right, the woman who has been treating my fragile emotional state like an Auntie Ann’s pretzel that she can twist and manipulate to her liking through 16 seasons of watching the absolute tomfoolery that occurs at a little place called Seattle Grace Hospital, will be taking on the story of Anna Delvey. I honestly could not think of a better person to tackle this monumental task. If there’s one thing Shonda Rhimes thrives off of, it’s messy drama, and nothing is messier than a broke millennial with an apparent aversion to hairbrushes taking New York’s richest for all they’re worth.

Netflix just released the cast list for the series, and it is everything I hoped it would be and more. Julia Garner, who just won an Emmy for her role in Ozark, will play Anna herself. In a press release, Netflix describes the role of Anna as “a young woman in her mid-20s with a hard-to-place European accent who takes New York by storm. Either a brilliant businesswoman or a scammer extraordinaire, Anna in turn inspires loyalty, compassion, contempt, and obsession—all while leaving behind an emotional body count.”  AN EMOTIONAL BODY COUNT. Well, at least Shonda won’t be able to kill off any of Anna’s friends and family members. For once. RIP MCSTEAMY—I’ll never forgive you for for that one, Shonda!

Next up, we’ve got Anna Chlumsky from My Girl and Veep fame, who will play the journalist (aka Vivian) investigating Anna throughout her trial. Apparently Vivian hopes that Anna’s story will be the thing that revives her career, but the more she investigates Anna, the more attached she becomes. So basically she’s me. Anna Chlumsky will be playing the role of me. Can’t wait to watch the scene where she skips out on a happy hour and other basic human interaction to scroll through Anna’s IG feed for 20 hours straight!

Other cast members include Laverne Cox, who will play Kacy Duke, a celebrity trainer and life coach who gets sucked into Anna’s inner circle; Katie Lowes of Scandal fame, who will play Anna’s friend Rachel (aka the author of My Friend Anna); and Alexis Floyd, who’s set to play the role of Neff, the concierge who worked at the Soho hotel Anna frequented (on someone else’s dime). Earlier this year, news broke that Lena Dunham was also working on an adaptation of the Anna Delvey story for HBO, but there have been no updates since the summer.

While there is no date set for the series premiere at this time, we’re told it will probably air sometime in 2020. The series is slated for 10 episodes, which lets me know that I’ll need to clear my schedule for at least double that: 10 hours to watch the show, and another 10 to unpack wtf I just watched and see if there’s any way to incorporate Anna’s tactics into my next Ship date. I’ve got some credit card debt I need paid off. Until then, start clearing your schedules now, because it ! is ! happening !

Images: Getty Images

Theranos Scammer Elizabeth Holmes May Have Secretly Gotten Married

Elizabeth Holmes is many things: a Stanford dropout. A founder of a company that was, at one time, worth $9 billion. An alleged fraudster. And now… a wife? Perhaps, if a recent report in Page Six is to be believed. Though Holmes is currently awaiting trial for wire fraud, due to the fact that her blood testing company, Theranos, could not perform nearly any of the tests it claimed to the public and investors to be able to do, she is still living a pretty luxurious life in San Francisco. (This is white privilege.) Redditors claimed she is out and about, taking her fake wolf-dog, Balto, out to dog parks. She is currently living in a high-end apartment. And, to top it all off, she was noticeably engaged to hotel heir Billy Evans—but now they might be secretly married. Why is it that scammer Billy McFarland has a girlfriend, murder-commissioner Gypsy Rose Blanchard is engaged, and fraudster Elizabeth Holmes is married, and yet I have not committed a high-profile felony, and I can’t even get out of the f*cking booty call zone???

Perhaps that is precisely the problem. If you’ll excuse me, I need to go make a hit list of everyone who has ever wronged me and devise no less than six fake companies.

Just kidding, I won’t do that (right now). But is Elizabeth Holmes really married? It’s possible, but so far neither she nor fiancé Billy have confirmed anything. The news comes from a live recording of Bitch Sesh, a Real Housewives podcast. Apparently, the Bitch Sesh event had an open mic where people could come up and share gossip *jots down notes for my next work happy hour gathering*. A friend of Billy’s got up and said that he and Elizabeth are already married.

The girl who shared this tea claims to have had Friendsgiving at Billy’s apartment with Elizabeth also in attendance. Another audience member told Page Six, “She was sharing details like the fact they have a stripper pole in their apartment. The room audibly gasped, and this girl got a standing ovation. And a shirt!”

A free shirt for selling out your famous friends? Sign me the f*ck up. Just kidding, I don’t have any famous friends! Damn, now I need to go make some so I can share their secrets in exchange for clothing.

Anyway! Holmes and Evans reportedly met at a party in 2017, and it’s unclear why Evans would choose to shack up with someone who is currently facing wire fraud charges (maybe he, heir to the Evans Hotel Group, thought to himself one day, “hmmm, I have too much family money to blow—maybe I should get in a relationship with someone who can help me take care of that problem”). Not surprisingly, Evans’ family is reportedly not pleased about the engagement.

For everyone asking about Holmes’s social media. It’s private. But here are a few screenshots of her and her fiancé we found online. (I personally find it crazy that she’s being charged with 11 felony counts, thousands of people’s lives were harmed, and she’s as happy as can be.) pic.twitter.com/6nYfjltLt4

— Nick Bilton (@nickbilton) February 21, 2019


“His family is like, ‘What the f–k are you doing?’ It’s like he’s been brainwashed,” a source told the New York Post. Still, Evans reportedly insists that the media “has it wrong” about Holmes (and I guess, by extension, the criminal justice system does too). But just like when your mom and dad tried to tell you the 21-year-old who still hung out behind the high school was not a good person to date, Evans doesn’t seem to care what his family thinks. A source told the NY Post back on April 6 that wedding invitations had been sent out about two weeks prior. And although Billy could afford to give Elizabeth a huge rock, he gave her his MIT signet ring, because, the source claimed, “it could end up owned by the feds if she has to give up her material possessions.” I mean, that’s actually kind of smart, but so would be not getting engaged to someone charged with fraud.

If Holmes and Evans are indeed married, I think I speak for all of us when I say that I need all the details of their wedding immediately. Was Balto the ringbearer? Was Sunny Balwani, former Theranos president and Elizabeth’s ex, in attendance? Did Elizabeth still use her fake voice when saying her vows? And, most importantly, what the hell will happen if Elizabeth is indeed sentenced to the 20 years of prison she’s currently facing? No matter what happens, I’m going to need multiple documentaries on every streaming platform out there about Elizabeth’s life behind bars.

Images: nickbilton / Twitter

A White Woman Is Getting Dragged For Opening A ‘Clean’ Chinese Restaurant

Today’s tea is piping hot and honestly probably too flavorful for the likes of Arielle Haspel, a self-proclaimed nutritionist who has opened what she calls a “clean” Chinese restaurant in New York’s West Village. The restaurant is called… wait for it… Lucky Lee’s. Look, we don’t have to tell you that she’s white, but we will because how else will you know the food at her restaurant is “clean”? In her words, her food won’t make you feel “bloated and icky the next day”.

This tells us a few things. One, she clearly has not been privileged enough to have Chinese friends invite her over for good home cooked Chinese food, and honestly, we feel for her. Like, she probably has only ever eaten Chinese food when she gets it from a takeout Chinese restaurant when she’s hungover or wants to feel like she’s “cultured.” Two, this woman has not studied abroad, and if she has, then she probably got trashed in public and only hung out with Americans the whole time. Honestly, she probably still wears a sombrero on Cinco de Mayo and we’re embarrassed just thinking about it.

Like, let’s get one thing straight. Takeout is fast food. Saying Chinese food makes you feel sick because you’ve only ever eaten sh*tty Chinese food is like visiting America and only eating McDonald’s and then thinking that all American food is greasy and comes with an action figure. Like, has this poor woman ever heard of Din Tai Fung? Honey, if you can’t afford a nice Chinese restaurant, I’m sure someone will donate to your GoFundMe. Truly we cannot stop laughing at the idea of this entire thing, because while wanting to eat healthier is totally valid, she missed the mark so hard in this marketing that she must not have enough cool friends who could have told her to definitely not do this.

 

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The other day we received some negative comments on an Instagram post. Some of your reactions made it clear to us that there are cultural sensitivities related to our Lucky Lee’s concept. We promise you to always listen and reflect accordingly. A number of comments have stated that by saying our Chinese food is made with ‘clean’ cooking techniques and it makes you feel great that we are commenting negatively on all Chinese food. When we talk about our food, we are not talking about other restaurants, we are only talking about Lucky Lee’s. Chinese cuisine is incredibly diverse and comes in many different flavors (usually delicious in our opinion) and health benefits. Every restaurant has the right to tout the positives of its food. We plan to continue communicating that our food is made with high quality ingredients and techniques that are intended to make you feel great. Chef/owner, Arielle’s husband’s name is Lee and his life-long love of Chinese food was inspiration for the restaurant. The name Lucky Lee’s reflects the story of how the recipes were conceived. We also received negative comments related to being owners of a Chinese restaurant but not being Chinese. Owners Arielle and Lee are both Jewish-American New Yorkers, born and raised. Similar to many other Jewish New Yorkers’ diets, bagels, pastrami sandwiches and yes, American Chinese food, were big and very happy parts of their childhoods. New York is the ultimate melting pot and Lucky Lee’s is another example of two cultures coming together. To us, this is a good thing. We love American Chinese food and at Lucky Lee’s it is our intention to celebrate it everyday and serve great food. #luckyleesnyc

A post shared by Lucky Lee’s (@luckyleesnyc) on

She’s since removed the controversial language in her IG post, but when it was up, she called her restaurant a healthy alternative to “oily” and “salty” typical Chinese cuisine, claiming her restaurant was for “people who love to eat Chinese food” and “and love the benefit that it will actually make them feel good.” In other words, girls who will do a line off a bar bathroom toilet but can’t handle a little bit of garlic. I’m not speaking for all Chinese people, but yawn, call me when a white person will admit that cheese gives everyone diarrhea before complaining that Chinese food makes them sick.

Furthermore, calling the restaurant Lucky Lee’s is just like, so cringeworthy. Apparently her husband’s name is Lee, but somehow we don’t think she would have called it like, Lucky Connor’s if that was his name. It would be like if a Chinese person opened a diner called Becky With the Good Flavor and promised American food with actual seasoning.

 

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Lucky You! You’re invited to the opening week of LUCKY LEE’S located at 67 University Place between 10th/11th Street. Get your chopsticks skills ready for Baked General Tso’s Chicken, Orange Cauliflower and Kung Pao Mushrooms. As luck would have it, we cook with fresh local veggies, pasture-raised chicken and grass-fed meat. Our recipes are made with less oil, non-GMO oil and no wheat, gluten, peanuts or refined sugar because we care about how you feel and we want you to feel great (and lucky!!) Can’t wait to see you starting Monday, April 8th ??? #bewell #luckyleesnyc #luckylees #newrestaurant #newyorkcity #feelgreatchinese ? @mark_roskams

A post shared by Lucky Lee’s (@luckyleesnyc) on

If a Chinese person wants to befriend Arielle Haspel so she doesn’t do this kind of thing again, they could probably write it off as philanthropy because this woman needs help. Because, honestly, gluten free Chinese food isn’t a bad idea—it’s the implication that every single Chinese restaurant is unhealthy and bad for you that makes us want to cancel Lucky Lee. Hit us up when you figure out gluten free hot dogs too, thanks babe.

Images: Frank Zhang / Unsplash; luckyleesnyc (2) / Instagram

This Fake Influencer’s IG Posts Got Her Whole Family Arrested

You know how much we love a good Instagram influencer scandal, so I was thrilled to learn about today’s story. It has everything: alleged money laundering, expensive cars, a fake influencer, and multiple arrests. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Jenny Ambuila. Her story is reminiscent of the Anna Delvey saga, but like, if her entire family was in on it. I’m still trying to put all the pieces of this story together, but let’s go through what we know.

Jenny Ambuila is a 26-year-old woman who is originally from Colombia, but she’s now based in Miami. She has two different Instagram accounts, and both have over 10,000 followers. They’re both set to private now, but luckily her Facebook page is still public as hell (at press time, anyway), and from Jenny’s photos, you’d think she has some serious money. She loves to post about her Lamborghini, her expensive handbags, and her lifestyle of luxe international travel. Before we even get to the whole reason this is all fake, let’s first talk about her social media presence. The funny thing is that this girl doesn’t seem to have any sort of aesthetic or photo editing skills. Usually with influencers, they have some kind of “look” to their feed, and they take quality photos (or just edit the hell out of them to make them look quality). Jenny’s Facebook photos, though, just look like she just hit the “upload new profile picture” button and banged it out right then and there without even applying any filters. She’s not even posing! It’s tacky as hell, and I love it.

In case it wasn’t clear already, Jenny Ambuila might be my favorite person. There is truly nothing I love more than an aspiring influencer who spends all her time trying to seem bougie on social media. What’s not to love? This Instagram bio has all of my favorite things: multiple random cities, incoherent job descriptions, and the exact kind of car she drives:

Jenny Ambuila really is that bitch, and her Twitter page is proof. She only has eight followers on Twitter (lmao), but she’s still using it to brag about how hardcore her life is:

10 insane days in Vegas. Zero sleep, full time partying & excessive drinking.

— JennyLifestyler (@JennyLifestyler) May 30, 2018

I’ve got to wonder, with eight Twitter followers and no likes on this tweet, who was she allegedly “full time partying & excessive drinking” with??

Live footage of me scamming men and avoiding all my responsibilities:

I’m obsessed. This whole thing reeks of new money, and so obviously her parents must be loaded, no? Well… no. Jenny is a student at University of Miami, so her lifestyle is bankrolled by her dad, who lives back in Colombia. The problem? Jenny’s dad is a customs inspector at a sea port, and he only makes $3,000 a month. Now, I’m no math genius, but by my calculations, that’s not nearly enough to buy a $300,000 Lamborghini. Something does not compute! To paint a picture for you, I make more than Jenny’s dad, and I can barely afford a monthly Metrocard.

Clearly, Jenny’s lavish posts raised some eyebrows back in Colombia, and this led authorities to launch an investigation into her purchases. Turns out, her father Omar has allegedly been accepting bribes in order to let goods into the country tax-free. Since 2012, he’s reportedly pocketed millions of dollars in illegal payments, which sounds a bit more like Lamborghini money than that $3,000 a month we were talking about before.

Last Friday, Jenny and both of her parents were arrested while on vacation in Colombia, and now they’re on house arrest while they face money laundering charges. Oof. Jenny hasn’t made a statement or anything about the arrest, probably because no one actually cares about what she has to say, or because it’s generally not a good idea to comment on pending litigation.

The crazy thing is that the whole point of being an influencer is that people are invested in your personal story, and there’s nothing that interesting about Jenny, other than how hard she and her family were allegedly scamming everyone. Like, sorry, but posing with a luxury car just is not that interesting. She also has a website, “jenbyjen”, which is supposed to be a “luxury blog”, I guess. Move over, Poosh! The website just says “coming soon,” but now I have a feeling it might not be so soon.

What’s the moral of this story? Before you post pictures of your Chanel bags on Instagram, make sure that they weren’t bought with money from international cargo bribes! Where does Jenny Ambuila rank on the all-time list of Insta-scammers? This whole thing is less impressive than the long-con of Anna Delvey, but Jenny was definitely better at the fake influencer lifestyle than some of these basic girls.

Images: Jenny Ambuila / Facebook (2); @jennylifestyler / Instagram; @jennylifestyler / Twitter; Jenbyjen.com

I Grew Up With The Wealthy & Connected—Here’s Why The College Scam Shouldn’t Surprise Anyone

I’m a person who’s followed celebrity news since I was a kid (like, I had subscriptions to Us Weekly and PEOPLE in fourth grade), and even I did not anticipate the celebrity college admissions scandal blowing up like it has. When the news first broke, I was like, “Perfect. Now that Aunt Becky is relevant again, I can segue more easily into the story about how two women at Friendly’s said I was a dead ringer for her when I was 16.” Also, if we’re being honest, I would drop $500,000 just to not have to endure the embarrassment of having a child who unabashedly calls themselves a “YouTuber” and “influencer.” But beyond that, I was pretty unfazed about the news, because where I grew up, people have been fleecing the college system for years.

Full disclosure: I come from a WASP-y family. I was raised to not take that identity seriously, but to actually find humor in it. That led me to writing satire for a society website called Guest of a Guest, where I make fun of the culture and the people who try so hard to swindle their way into it all the time. I even make fun of myself for falling prey to it: I actually made the GofG list of “Most Pretentiously Named Socialites,” my dog is literally related to the Kennedy’s dog (plus I had relatives that worked for that administration), and I attended a boarding school at which my family boasted a really long legacy (although I only lasted a year). But thank god my family encouraged me to form my own identity, because otherwise, that would’ve made me the biggest douchebag. (I’m still a douchebag because I make snarky remarks about celebs for a living and literally highjacked an article about this scandal to talk about how someone once said I look like Aunt Becky, but at least I’m not wearing a cashmere sweater draped around my shoulders while doing it.) My parents and grandparents would be disappointed if I was too lenient on the WASP identity because it’s tacky and lame to go into superfluous details about that lifestyle, but for the sake of illustrating how common it really is to game the college admissions system, I’m willing to risk sounding gauche, because it does need to be aired out.

First off, I’m proud of the family I come from, because while we were all given a great education, my grandfather taught us humility and the importance of a good work ethic. For the record, my family never once tried to buy their way into schools they didn’t deserve a spot at, and I am grateful they didn’t. Having access to great education and other perks is wonderful, but my parents really wanted to instill in me that there’s so much more to life than going to a name-brand undergrad program straight out of high school.

But I grew up surrounded by and summering with a lot of ritzy prep school kids who didn’t share the same beliefs (even the fact that I use the word “summer” as a verb is a huge tell). So I guess that makes me a ritzy prep school kid as well. I took a gap year after high school and did a program abroad, and the very first day of my program, I talked to a girl who went to an elite New Hampshire boarding school (I’ll let you figure out which one), and she made it very known that she was attending Harvard in the fall. We took classes at a tutorial college and she would skip class and refuse to do homework because, “I’m going to f*cking Harvard.” Ok, Elle Woods.

But some things she said would make me seriously side-eye. This chick was all too open about how lavish her family’s lifestyle was and how liberal her dad was with his AmEx (only later on, he got tried for embezzlement). Ok, whatever. But one big piece of info she kept quiet about? Her grandfather was the president of a foreign country. Yeah. So I had to wonder if she got into Harvard solely on her own merit.

did any one else just assume that celebrities paid to get their kids into college and are shocked that it’s actually illegal

— jaboukie (@jaboukie) March 12, 2019

This is not just me being salty—Harvard literally admitted that they let in wealthier people in hopes of getting more money from them, as if they need it. I even recall asking my parents how the hell our neighbors got all three of their kids into Harvard. Sure, they went to a really great New York prep school, but they also let the Harvard squash coach stay in their guest house for the summer.

I have tons of anecdotes like these, but I’ll save the rest for my book. When I was having dinner with my parents after this whole story broke, I went into the conversation thinking it was funny as f*ck that these people were finally getting called out so publicly, while my parents were disgusted. Huh?

I brought up the story about my neighbors, and my mom said, “That’s different. Those kids are smart.” Is it different, though? It’s just using your privilege, wealth, and access to get what you want. Maybe overt wire fraud isn’t involved, but your hands are not entirely clean.

Now that the Hollywood Bribery Ring has been busted, the only thing helping rich kids get into college are legacy admissions, private tutors, board member connections, unpaid summer internships, interview coaches, and a lifetime of Ivy-bound grooming!!!

— Bess Kalb (@bessbell) March 12, 2019


What’s even funnier to me is that my parents were outraged by Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman paying someone to falsify their kids’ SAT scores. I don’t see the big difference between that and donating a building, or giving free lodging to somebody who works at the school. And whether you’re committing blatant fraud, or just throwing money to get your kid into a school you’re not confident they could be accepted to on merit alone, you’re doing a disservice to your child. Like, I know a girl whose dad is a higher-up in finance, and he secured her a job where he works, along with an elite education. When it came time to take the CFAs, she couldn’t pass the test, even after her third time. So she wasted her time and energy (and Daddy wasted his money) on a career she wasn’t cut out for, and she had to endure the humiliation of being fired from a company at which her father is a huge mover and shaker. I’m confident she’s not the only story like that. I mean, Olivia Jade barely went to class at USC after her mom spent hundreds of thousands (and risked prison time) to scam her way in! Do you think she was really going to graduate with honors and a set career path in anything but makeup videos? No. An elite education, a trust fund, and two brain cells to rub together can’t ultimately guarantee you success.

Job interviewer: Tell me about your time at USC
Olivia Jade: pic.twitter.com/qzDMWsyVxK

— Betches (@betchesluvthis) March 15, 2019

But ultimately, what I think should be on trial here is the antiquated education system that American society shoves down our throats. This stifling structure should be questioned because only a small percentage of kids actually thrive in that environment, and it’s sad that parents are wasting money to force their way in. It’s a detriment to their kids’ personal growth, and pretty much everyone’s personal growth, that we all think graduating college by 22 and adhering to a suffocating system like that is the only way to be successful in life. The VP of Google (F*CKING GOOGLE) even said that having a high GPA or going to an elite school has never been an accurate litmus test of whether or not you’d be a promising employee there (yet they funnel in Ivy League grads with 4.0’s so…what the hell?). But until we realize that it really does not f*cking matter where you go to undergrad, wealthy, connected people will continue to finesse their wealth and connections to get what they want—just like they do in every other facet of society.

Images: jaboukie, bessbell, betchesluvthis / Twitter

Hold Up—The Official Fyre Festival IG Is Back Up And Running

Maybe 2019 won’t be a terrible year after all, because this Fyre Festival content just keeps on coming. In the battle of the two dueling Fyre documentaries, one of the most interesting aspects was the role of Fuck Jerry, and who was truly responsible for the fiasco. In the Hulu documentary, one of the main interview subjects was Oren Aks, who worked for Jerry Media to help market the festival. Oren no longer works there, and the movie ended with him giving Jerry Media the middle finger, in case you were wondering where that professional relationship ended up.

Well, it doesn’t look like Oren and Fuck Jerry will be patching things up any time soon, because Oren is stirring up some serious sh*t on social media. He apparently still has the password to the official Fyre Festival Instagram account, which seems like a major oversight, and he relaunched the Fyre Festival IG account over the weekend. That’s right, Fyre is back in business.

In the bio for the account, which is still verified, it says that Oren is running the account, and that it’s not affiliated with Hulu, Netflix, or Fyre Media. I’m no lawyer, but I feel like as far as legal protections go, this is about as ironclad as posting one of those “I do not consent to Facebook sharing my data to third parties” statuses. I mean, he’s still using their name, handle, and logo, but whatever. And if you had any doubt about whether Oren was truly the one behind this, he’s posted about it on his own Instagram Story, and he’s also the only account that Fyre Festival follows.

So now that Oren has brought back the Fyre Instagram, what does he intend to do with it? His ultimate motives are still unclear, but I have a feeling that it’s not something Billy McFarland would approve of (unless it’s a scam). The biggest clue we’ve gotten so far is an IG Story of the comment keyword filters on the account being deleted. If you forgot about these, this was their way of hiding criticism in the weeks leading up to the festival, when it should have been clear to attendees that it was going to be a sh*t show. If comments contained words such as “fake,” “scam,” or “festival,” they were immediately hidden. So, when concerned ticket holders tried to ask questions on the Fyre Festival Instagram about things like how their plane tickets were getting to them or just generally what the deal was, those comments would automatically get deleted and they would get a swift block. Same thing would happen to anyone who tried to warn festivalgoers that the so-called “one-in-a-lifetime experience” may not have been what it seemed. I mean, you know things are bad when a literal music festival is afraid of the word “festival” being used against them.

Now it looks like you’ll be able to comment whatever you want on any of the Fyre Festival posts, so if you’ll excuse me, I have to cancel all my plans for the rest of the week. For now it just looks like people making Fyre Festival jokes, so I hope something big breaks soon.

No matter what ends up happening with this, I’m happy to see that Oren, like me, is a messy bitch who lives for drama. I’m also glad that the Fyre brand isn’t truly dead, because nothing else has brought me more joy in the last month. If I were to Marie Kondo my entire life, I’d be left with approximately two shirts and five hundred Fyre documentaries. With this news and rumors of Evian enthusiast Andy King getting his own show, there’s lots more to look forward to, so stay tuned.

Images: @fyrefestival / Instagram (3)