Ocean’s Thirteen

Directed by Steven Soderbergh

Starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Don Cheadle, Bernie Mac, Ellen Barkin, Al Pacino

Plot

A veteran member of Danny Ocean’s gang, Reuben Tishkoff is scammed by banker Willy Bank. As thugs coerce Reuben into signing over his stake, he suffers a heart attack. With Reuben bedridden, Danny and Rusty assemble the gang, formulating a two-prong approach. Firstly, they plan to prevent Bank’s new casino from winning the prestigious Five Diamond Award, as all his previous casinos have done. Secondly, an elaborate plan to rig the casinos and disrupt its security measures is doggedly pursued. Pitted against the Greco Player Tracker, the plan is near impossible. The team are forced to use a boring machine used to drill the Channel Tunnel to simulate an earthwork. Under the guise of a gift for Willy Bank, a magnetron is delivered to the Greco Player Tracker’s control room, where it is knocked offline. In the short time frame between the simulated earthquake and the Greco Player Tracker’s reboot, the rigged machines and games in the casino empty The Bank’s coffers.

Ocean’s Thirteen Fun Facts
  • When Linus Caldwell is shown in London receiving a phone call, the scene was actually filmed when Matt Damon was filming the Bourne Ultimatum. Filming schedules coincided and Ocean’s Thirteen benefitted from the coincidence.
  • Towards the end of Ocean’s Thirteen, Danny and Rusty make some references to their off-screen lives. Rusty tells Danny to keep the weight off between jobs. While Danny tells Rusty to settle down and have some kids. In 2005, for his role in Syriana, Clooney had put some weight on. On the other hand, Pitt had at the time entered a relationship with Angelina Jolie and had seemed to be settling down.
  • The golden mobile phone Willy Bank is gifted by Abigail Sponder was custom made for the film by Samsung.

Ocean’s Twelve

Directed by Steven Soderbergh

Starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Andy Garcia, Julia Roberts, Don Cheadle and Bernie Mac

Plot

Following on from Ocean’s Eleven, the team are chased by Terry Benedict whom the gang targeted during their previous heist. Enraged, Benedict demands they return all the money plus interest. Despite frantic efforts, the team come up short and are forced to plan another heist. Informed about the location of the valuable first ever stock certificate issued, the team pull off a series of elaborate schemes. However, beaten to the certificate by a mysterious character known only as the Night Fox, the team are swept upon by Europol investigator Isabel Lahiri (Catherine Zeta-Jones). Discovering the identity of the Night Fox and realising that master criminal and long-con expert LeMarc are running against them, the team shift attention to stealing the Faberge Imperial Coronation Egg. With twists, turns, complex fraud schemes, reverse cons and counter cons, the scammers and fraudsters comprising Ocean’s Twelve ultimately prevail.

Information

Ocean’s Twelve was released on 10 December 2004. Despite some critical apprehension, regarding the plots and storyline, the film was largely a commercial success. With a $110 million budget, Ocean’s Twelve returned $435 million at the box office, making it the tenth highest grossing film of that year.

Ocean’s Twelve fun Facts
  • During filming, George Clooney and Brad Pitt weren’t allowed back into the hotel they were staying at after they were caught in a rain shower during a run and the doorman thought they were vagrants!
  • Clint Eastwood was originally intended to play the role of Linus Caldwell’s father Bobby Caldwell
  • The scene from Ocean’s Twelve depicting Amsterdam Central Station was actually shot in Harlem
  • Ocean’s Twelve suggests that Europol is headquartered in Amsterdam, however, it is actually headquartered at The Hague.

Ocean’s Eleven

Directed by Steven Soderbergh

Starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Andy Garcia, Bernie Mac and Julia Roberts

Plot

Within days of his release, Danny Ocean (George Clooney) embarks on his latest daring heist. Meeting up with old friend and seasoned conman Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt), the pair plot the biggest casino heist in history. Their plan, to rob £150 million from an underground vault that serves three of the biggest Las Vegas casinos. The Bellagio, the Mirage and the MGM Grand all belong to Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia), who is married to Ocean’s ex-flame Tess (Julia Roberts). Together, Danny and Rusty assemble a cast of experienced conmen and criminals:

  • Reuben Tishkoff (Elliot Gould) plays the money man behind the operation
  • Frank (Bernie Mac) plays the swift-fingered and exuberant card dealer
  • Linus (Matt Damon) is a street smart but junior pickpocket, with a point to prove
  • Saul (Carl Reiner) is the team’s veteran con-artist and impostor
  • Brothers Virgil (Casey Affleck) and Turk (Scot Caan)
  • British explosives ace Basher (Don Cheadle)
  • Tech wizard Dell (Eddie Jemison)
  • Professional acrobat Yen (Shaobo Qin)

Ocean’s Eleven Fun Facts
  • Bruce Willis was originally cast as Danny Ocean but had to turn down the part due to scheduling conflicts
  • Matt Damon’s character was originally written for Mark Wahlberg, who turned it down preferring Ocean’s Eleven to Planet of the Apes
  • Don Cheadle wanted to be credited alongside George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon, but then refused to be credited at all, after his demand was rejected
  • The reason why Rusty is eating in every scene is because, according to Brad Pitt, the whole gang was so busy that they wouldn’t have time to eat
  • Under the direction of George Clooney, the whole cast took pay cuts to make the movie happen and decided to take a cut of the backend profits. With a gross of almost $500 million, it seems like it was a smart move!

BBC One – Fraud Squad NHS

Earlier this year, BBC One broadcast a five-part series on fraud in the NHS. The BBC one documentary series focussed on the work undertaken by the NHS Counter Fraud Authority (NHSCFA), and of its partners in Scotland and Wales and local counter fraud affiliates around the country. Also, the documentary features the NHSCFA’s Forensic Computing Unit, working alongside partners in the police force. The series shines the spotlight on the counter fraud work within the NHS, on both local and national levels, that has resulted in successful prosecutions against NHS fraudsters.

Episode 1 – The series’ first episode follows the NHS Counter Fraud Authority as investigators pursue a hospital worker charged with stealing vital surgical equipment to the tune of £1 million.

Episode 2 – The second instalment of the series looks into a multimillion-pound scam which defrauded NHS hospital out of a figure close to £13 million. Viewers also witness how a hospital cashier steals money intended for patients, in aid of her desire to lead the high life.

Episode 3 – The series’ third episode narrates the story of a locksmith responsible for a London hospital, who fraudulently overcharges the NHS for supplies, pocketing almost half a million pounds. Another case under the spotlight in this episode is that of an NHS manager who swindles more than £800,000 from the NHS, by filtering NHS funds into his own account.

Episode 4 – The penultimate episode features the story of an NHS manager and his accomplices conspiring to defraud the NHS of a quarter of a million pounds, from money to pay dialysis equipment for patients. Another story featured in the episode details the scam of a man who claimed the NHS pension of his aunt for six years after she had died.

Episode 5 – The series’ finale follows the NHS Counter Fraud Authority tracking an accounts worker siphoning off almost three quarters of a million pounds from the NHS. Our heroes also pursue a GP practice manager who forges fake emails to justify a pay-rise for himself.

Undercover: Nailing the Fraudsters

Channel 5

The second series of the fascinating look into fraud and fraudulent activities takes investigative journalist Paul Connolly deeper into the world of scammers and fraudsters. With fraud, deception, scams and cons costing the UK consumer £50 billion annually, the series offers viewers awareness and a form of protection from the most prolific scams today.

Series 2
Episode 1 – Phishing

Phishing is the act of fraudulently obtaining personal details, such as bank details and other payment details, in order to defraud money from a victim. Phishing can be conducted via phone, email and even social media. In this episode, Connolly looks into the gang that stole £113 million over three years and one of the UK’s most successful phishing scammers, who makes up to £100,000 per week.

Episode 2 – Boiler Room

Boiler room scams, named after the cramped locations from which fraudsters conduct their swindles, comprise fake investment scams. In this episode, Connolly investigates scammers who defraud victims, often out of their life savings, based on these dubious investment opportunities, selling everything from wine and property to stocks and shares. The episode also tells the story of a scam which involved defrauding more than 200 people of their life savings.

Episode 3 – Catching the Scammers: Romance Fraud

Our investigative journalist presenter becomes the sleuth and turns the tables on would-be romance scammers, operating on dating websites.

Episode 4 – Fake Documents

Allowing criminals, scammers and fraudsters to open bank accounts, launder money and travel freely across the globe, fake and forged documents are big business. This episode shows a forger doctoring documents such as bank statements and passports.

Episode 5 – Slimming Pills

Slimming pills, containing a variety of unsavoury ingredients such as pesticides and banned drugs, are sold online in an industry worth millions. Duping people into thinking they are buying into a viable option, the episode shows how ruthlessly and unscrupulously fraudsters target people for money.

Episode 6 – Ghost Brokers

‘Ghost brokering’ is the practice of selling fraudulent, forged or fraudulently acquired insurance policies to unwitting victims. Often targeting motorists with high insurance premiums, ghost brokers leave people uninsured and at even greater risk on the roads.

Undercover: Nailing the Fraudsters Channel 5

The Channel 5 documentary series was broadcast originally in 2016 and studied the most prevalent frauds affecting consumers in the United Kingdom at the time. Costing the economy and public over £50 billion a year, the series explores fraud and pursues fraudsters. From fraudulent insurance claims, to bogus documents and illegal fake drugs, each week the documentary looked at a unique aspect. Presented by investigative journalist Paul Connolly and produced by Mona Ahmed, the documentary went undercover and also worked alongside anti-fraud actors such as NHS Protect and the police.

Series 1

Episode 1 – Investigative journalist Paul Connolly explores the UK fraud industry, which is worth approximately £50 billion each year.

Episode 2 – Undercover: Catching the Fraudsters – Paul Connolly goes undercover, delving into the world of illegal unprescribed drugs. The team purchases Valium and bogus cancer drugs, that could kill. Presenter Paul Connolly confronts the fraudsters and discusses findings with the anti-fraud NHS Protect organisation.

Episode 3 – Illegal Subletting and Benefits Fraud – This episode takes a closer look at dubious landlords committing benefit fraud, which has become a growing problem. The fraudsters’ scam revolves around renting out rooms, without declaring it to the benefits office.

Episode 4 – Undercover: Catching the Scammers – Fraudulent insurance claims, namely the acquisition of fake death certificates to cash in on lucrative life insurance policies, is addressed in this programme. The team follow a specialist police unit charged with pursuing fraudulent insurance claims.

Episode 5 – Identity Theft – The episode looks at the trade of fraudulent documents, including national security cards and driving licenses sourced from lookalikes. West Midlands police feature the story of a man who murdered a lifelong friend, after taking out an insurance policy on his life. The presenter also takes a look at driving test impersonators who pass tests on behalf of lookalikes

Top Fraud Films of All Time

The Wolf of Wall Street

Directed by Martin Scorcese and written by Terence Winter, Leonardo DiCaprio led as Jordan Belfort. An ambitious young Jordan Belfort maintains a veneer of respectability, while employing a series of frauds, scams and swindles to selfishly gather up as much money as possible. The Wolf of Wall Street has become a cult classic, since its first release in 2013.

Catch Me If You Can

Produced by Steven Spielberg, featuring an all-star cast including Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks and Martin Sheen, Catch Me If You Can is based on the memoirs of Frank Abagnale. A prolific con man, cheque forger and impostor, Frank Abagnale’s life of fraud and scams is narrated in the hit 2002 film.

American Hustle

Directed by David O. Russell, American Hustle is inspired by the FBI’s Abscam Operation of the 1970s-1980s. Starring Bradley Cooper and Christian Bale, the movie recounts the tale of the Abscam investigation which sought to weed out corruption among businessmen and public officials. The Abscam operation exposed numerous political figures, members of the House of Representatives, one U.S. senator as well as other public officials.

The Wizard of Lies

Directed by Barry Levinson and Sam Levinson, Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer leader as Bernie and Ruth Madoff. Perpetrator of the largest Ponzi scheme of all time, estimated to be worth approximately $64.8 billion, Bernie Madoff is central to the story. A reasonable success, despite critics commenting that no new light was shed on the original story, The Wizard of Lies received numerous awards. At the 8th Critics’ Choice Awards in 2017, The Wizard of Lies won the category for Best TV Movie.

Owning Mahowny

The film is based on the real-life fraud conducted by Brian Molony, in which he embezzled more than $10 million from the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce where he was employed. Featuring Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Minnie Driver, the film is based on 1987 book entitled Stung, by journalist Gary Ross.

Billionaire Boys Club (2018) Starring Kevin Spacey, Ansel Elgort and Rosanna Arquette, Directed by James Cox

Based on real-life events, the Billionaire Boys Club was announced in 2010 and filmed in 2015. Coinciding with public allegations of sexual misconduct by Kevin Spacey, the film’s release was delayed. Upon release, the film was a critical and commercial flop, drawing only $618 at the box office on its opening weekend. The movie followed a 1987 miniseries, which detailed the cons and scams of the Billionaire Boys Club.

The Billionaire Boys Club was an investment and social club founded by Joseph Henry Hunt in 1983 in California. Attracting inexperienced young investors from the Harvard School for Boys, the member of the club offered lucrative ‘get rich quick’ schemes. While the schemes drew unwitting investors, the club’s members used funds to pay for lavish lifestyles. The so-called investments were effectively a Ponzi scheme, with investors having no hope of ever seeing their investment money back. As the Ponzi scheme began to draw the ire of investors, the club started falling apart. Hunt and the club’s security director Jim Pittman were charged with murder of fellow con artist and former associate Ron Levin. Levin had previously been the club’s main investor. Hunt was also charged with Hedayat Eslaminia, father of one of the club’s members. Eslaminia was murdered by the group in order that they could get their hands on his fortune.

Coinciding with allegations of sexual misconduct against Spacey, Vertical Entertainment issued a statement accompanying the film’s release. The distributor stated that the theatrical release was decided in recognition of the actors and crews who contributed to the production. However, with broad unfavourable responses from critics, the movie flopped heavily at the box office. A budget of $15 million only saw a return of $2.5 million at the box office.

TV Series – Hustle (2004-2012) Starring Adrian Lester, Robert Glenister and Robert Vaughn

Spanning eight series, between 2004 and 2012, Hustle was created by Tony Jordan and produced by Kudos Film and Television. Aired on primetime BBC One, the crime drama followed a group of con artists, specialising in long cons. The deceptive frauds that required elaborate investment took deliberation and meticulous planning.

Main Characters

Michael “Mickey Bricks” Stone (Adrian Lester) – As the lead ‘inside man’ Mickey is a long-con expert, with an ego to match his abilities. With a contempt for the immoralities of a rich elite, Mickey is spurred on by memories of his hardworking father’s premature death.

Albert Stroller (Robert Vaughn) – As an old school legend, Stroller is the fraudsters’ ‘roper’. Frequenting clubs, a dab hand at card tricks and with many professional relationships and connections, Stroller is responsible for selecting and ensnaring the groups targets, or ‘marks’.

Ash “Three Socks” Morgan (Robert Glenister) – A resourceful and all-round grifter, Morgan is the team’s ‘fixer’. Securing people, items, websites and props, Morgan is a master of impersonation.

Stacie Monroe (Jaime Murray) – Using her sex appeal, Monroe works alongside Morgan to squeeze marks for whatever may be needed in a long-con.

Danny Blue (Marc Warren) – Blue is the team’s short-con specialist, who dreams of becoming London’s most acknowledged grifter by showing his abilities in the long-con.

Popularity

Over the course of the series’ run, Hustle garnered a viewership of around 6 million, on average. The crime drama series was broadcast in United States, with AMC joining the BBC in production from the third series onwards. The drama series also spawned a spin-off documentary, The Real Hustle, in which a group of tricksters travelled the country performing cons, accompanied by a hidden camera.

Matchstick Men (2003) Directed by Ridley Scott, Starring Nicolas Cage, Sam Rockwell and Alison Lohman

Directed by English filmmaker Ridley Scott, Matchstick Men is based on the novel of the same name by Eric Garcia. The plot focusses on the criminal enterprise of two con artists, Roy Waller (Nicholas Cage) and Frank Mercer (Sam Rockwell). Matchstick Men combines fraud and various scams with its main protagonist’s mental illnesses, delivering a black comedy par excellence. As Roy and his partner embark on a long-term swindle, Roy’s long-lost teenage daughter emerges in his life. Discovering her father’s scamming ways, Angela (Alison Lohman) is eager to partake. At a local laundromat Angela leads the scam, conning an old lady into believing she has won the lottery.

Under Roy’s tutelage, Angela successfully pulls her first scam and dupes the woman out of half of her expected winnings. However, her father forces her to return the money. As his conscience is roused by the presence of his teenage daughter in his life, Roy is pressured into involving Angela in the long-term scam planned with Frank, targeting businessman Chuck Frechette. In a dramatic culmination of the plot, the protagonist discovers that he is the one who has been subjected to a cruel and meticulously planned scam. The film ends with Roy leading a happy, straight life as a salesman at a local carpet store.

Released in the United States on 12 September 2003, Matchstick Men grossed $13 million in its opening weekend. Totalling a gross box office of $36.9 million in the U.S. and $65.6 million globally, Matchstick Men was well-received. The dramatic culmination of the plot left some critics frustrated by the outcome. Yet, others heaped praised on the film for how Ridley Scott focussed more on the characters than the con.