A Malaysian-born man pulled off the catfish of the century, finessing several Hollywood hotshots into believing he was an international billionaire. But, as it turns out, the man was just a fake, using stolen money to impress the likes of Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan or Miranda Kerr.
Though the man has since disappeared, amid a criminal indictment in Malaysia, writers, Tom Wright and Bradley Hope detailed the fraudulent lifestyle of Jho Low in their new book, “Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood, and the World.”
According to Vice, Low finessed the systems in Las Vegas, Saint Tropez, and New York, using a state-owned Malaysian investment fund, 1MBD, to “siphon off billions through fake deals and complex money laundering.”
Though Low denies all wrongdoing, sources say he and his crew copped a slew of luxurious items, including a $35 million private jet, equity in music labels, paintings by Basquiat, Monet and Van Gogh, a super-yacht, penthouse and even helped finance “The Wolf of Wall Street,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
But, what’s most interesting about Low’s story is he’s from a wealthy family. He just wanted more.
“He comes from a wealthy family – definitely millionaires – but much poorer than the billionaire class he aspired to enter,” Wright told the publication. “His father, Larry, took a stake in a garment company but was known in Malaysia as a petty fraudster. Low grew up in a mansion and saw his father’s partying ways,” and was then sent to high-class schools, with the likes of the elite. This then encouraged Low to always “take steps to make himself appear richer than he was,” Hope said.
Between dating Kerr and his $400 million promise to DiCaprio to fund “The Wolf of Wall Street,” Low was able to finagle his way to the top by networking, sizing “up someone’s use to him and leveraging it.”
“He used his friendships with Hollywood stars to entice Arab businessmen into deals. When they saw Kate Upton on a boat, they were hooked by Low,” Wright said of Low’s extravagant party lifestyle, as Hope added that the finesse was all about the money.
Despite Low’s popularity though, police can’t seem to get ahold of him.
“There was a rumor last week he was drinking wine in Hong Kong. Malaysia’s government says it knows for sure that he is in China, and they are negotiating to get him sent back. We last had a firm idea of his location in July,” Wright said of Low’s current whereabouts. “He appears to be protected by China. Low helped negotiate a number of dodgy infrastructure deals last year between China and Malaysia, from which money was allegedly stolen. The idea seems to have been to use the case to fill holes in Low’s scheme and pay off unknown enablers in China.”
“The new government wants to cancel the infrastructure projects and has charged Low in absentia for money laundering. But Beijing could be worried that Low knows too much about some senior Chinese officials, and that’s why he’s been able to remain there incognito,” Wright said.