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tv   Headliners Legends  MSNBC  August 13, 2011 3:00am-4:00am PDT

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and musicians to come play them. rock n roll will never die. how can the plum card's e terms get your business booming? booming is putting more music in more people's hands. 911 emergency. >> shots fired. >> has the jury reached a verdict? >> we, the jury, find the defendant -- he only drank cristal champagne. >> he was a wheeler dealer, a man with a name to match his uptown tastes. >> someone said to me, have you heard there's a rockefeller out and about out in the hamptons? >> from the hamptons to the hollywood hills, he worked only the finest rooms. >> he had cash money in his pocket and lots of it. huge rolls of cash money. >> money that even movie stars couldn't resist. >> this is the guy that's going
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to bring me back, right here. >> he charmed his investors with promises of incredible returns. >> you gave me $50,000, i will in turn give you $500,000. >> and then, he was gone. >> that was the last we saw of him. >> if greed is good, then this man was great. >> he wants to go down as being one of the best. >> the baddest and the best? >> the baddest and the best. >> in this hour, "catch him if you can." he drives up in a limousine, himself and a movie star get out. they look, wow, who is he? >> he was a guy with a big name, a french accent, and offhand gallant charm, who one night could hang at the hippest clubs with bad boy movie stars, and on another night, be posing with a big-city politician at an a-list fund-raiser. >> that's what hollywood's about. when you're famous, people will do anything for you. it's like you're a god. one word is not enough for him.
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he's powerful. >> not even the sky was the limit. on a whim, he would charter a chopper to race him out to a seaside estate he was considering buying. this one in new york's riviera, the hamptons. he was so rich, jewelry seemed disposable to him. so rich he could get away with his favorite uniform -- jeans and a t-shirt and a ball cap worn backwards -- even in the fanciest places, and no one complained. >> we're used to dealing with a lot of big spenders and flashy people and high rollers, and he carried himself a little differently. >> so who was he? an imported hollywood producer? one of the nameless new zillionaire businessman? a rich kid living the high life often inherited wealth. but once he told people his last name, he didn't have to say much more. >> he just finally told me his last name was rockefeller, very casually. didn't make a big deal telling me he was rockefeller. he didn't say, "i am a
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rockefeller." >> a rockefeller. that's right, of those rockefellers. a family name rich in oil, philanthropy, and political achievement. a name from america's history. but from the french side of the storied family, he would add. >> of course, the big scandal out here -- >> dr. henri bernard, who calls himself sudsy, is one of the hampton's gossips who keep the grapevine flowing. >> someone said to me, have you heard there's a rockefeller out and about out in the hamptons, and that this guy was a french rockefeller? >> and if the end of the century was the age of excess, well, sudsy was hearing this french rockefeller was its poster boy. in fact, they're still talking about him, because his is a story that highlights the true color of money, and the lengths to which some people will go to get it. >> so people, you know, they think that money will buy them anything. and about 90% of the time out
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here, it does. >> but perhaps to downplay his money and his famous name, the french rockefeller told people to simply call him by his first name, christopher, or even just chris. >> he would just walk into the room and everyone at the table, which were highly influential people, were like, oh, that's christopher. christopher's here. >> hollywood actress and model, rhonda rydell, dated christopher in 1997. at the time, she said, he was at the very epicenter of the scene, where movie and tv stars lit up the hollywood lights. >> he wore the ring, the whole family crest and everybody was just kind of bowing down to christopher. >> chris, let's get a picture of you guys! >> "christopher!," the paparazzi would shout, when they wanted a picture of him leaving the clubs late at night. paparazzi like e.l. woody. >> he had cash money in his pocket and lots of it. huge rolls of cash money. and he would pass out $100 bills to the waiters, to the bartenders, to the valet
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parker, just making the big show. >> the big show was recorded in the countless photos and videos of christopher posing with celebrities, like british actor, gary oldman, or mtv vj, downtown julie brown, or with badboy actor, mickey rourke, here stepping into a humvee. it was a show people wanted to be part of, and they flocked to the best tables and the best restaurants, where christopher held court. >> he had huge bills, every night. champagne, he only drank cristal champagne and it was great. i mean, he just had tasteful quality. >> every now and then, in this swirl of the good life, christopher might forget to pay one of the big checks he'd run up at still another restaurant for the rich and famous. like manhattan's city hall, a tab for $40,000. and at the hampton's hot spot, tsunami. >> they had left very suddenly, disappeared on a $2,000 check. and the next day, the manager had informed me of this and i said, i'm not worried in the slightest. i'm sure they'll be back.
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>> but it was easy not to worry, because rockefeller had money and seemed eager to spend it, everywhere he touched down. >> predominantly, he paid everything in cash. >> george mueller, an investigator with the los angeles county district attorney's office, kept a watchful eye on life in l.a.'s fast lane. he says christopher always had an entourage around him, a revolving circus of celebrities and hangers-on. >> they're going out to dinner, drinking champagne all night, eating caviar, driving limousines, and they're not picking up the tab. christopher's paying for it. >> even when he went on a first-class business trip to the far east, christopher brought along a friend. french expatriate, charles glenn, and of course he picked up the tab. >> we look like royalty, we're treated like royalty. >> in this home video taken by glenn, the two men are seen living the high life. in hong kong, in jakarta, in china, and in bangkok.
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>> hello! >> wherever chris and his best friend went, they had nothing but the best. the best hotels. many times staying in the penthouse presidential suite, with vistas of exotic capitals. the best transportation, stretch limos with a constant police escort to ease them through any gridlock. bodyguards in dark glasses standing at the ready. they shopped everywhere, jewelry stores were a favorite, buying jade and long chains of gold. and christopher made sure there was a constant stream of beautiful women to play with, no matter that he was married at the time. >> he paid for everything? >> he paid. >> cash? >> i think it was cash. >> now, in the crowd around christopher, there were always some who wanted what he had. money to spend, money to burn. and if they liked how christopher spent money, mueller says, they loved the idea of going into business with him. >> he says that i want to be business partners with you.
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if you give me some money now, i will give you the rest of the money to consummate the deal or to become your partner. >> if he holds out the prospect of them making money, they jump. >> they jump. >> and would only ask, how high? >> yes, my financier. >> there was down-on-his-luck actor, mickey rourke, who mugged for the paparazzi by kissing christopher and by shouting that christopher's whiles would revive his sagging career. >> the guy's going to bring me back, right here. >> there was kickboxing action hero, claude van damme. >> he wanted to back his next movie at $6 million. >> and he talked to jermaine jackson about doing business with his more famous brother, whose autographed picture hung in christopher's suite. >> right away he wanted to do the michael jackson perfume, thriller. >> and whenever christopher went, he took his style and his expectations with him. when he showed up in new york, he rented a $6,000 a month loft in trendy tribeca, just a temporary place, he explained, while his 5th avenue penthouse was being renovated.
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and armed with his l.a. contacts, he began mingling with new york's money and movie crowd. he became a regular behind the velvet ropes of the most exclusive clubs where young entrepreneurs would gather and preen and talk about how to spend their newfound fortunes. >> and by summer, rockefeller was ready to do what rich new yorkers or wannabe rich new yorkers so often do, head to the hamptons. >> the hamptons is the place to be. coming up, the trap is set. >> how much did he say you would make for your $25,000 investment? >> about $1 million and up.
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it was summer of the year 2000. high season in the hamptons. those who met christopher rockefeller thought he was richer than rich, and they wanted to get closer to him.
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>> they had met someone from a famous family who would speak to them and spend some time with them. >> at the fancy gym where christopher worked out, corrine eeltink took notice. >> the girl at the desk mentioned to me, do you know who that is? that's christopher rockefeller. and i said, oh. >> and everywhere he went, rockefeller was shadowed by his personal assistant, joseph. >> that first time they came in, the assistant gave me a card with a trump tower address and said, if you have any big parties coming up or anything, you know, we'd love to be involved. >> so the hamptons invitations started coming and christopher rockefeller found himself a magnet for the social and financial ambitions of others. >> they were desperate for recognition. they were also greedy. >> to the surprise and the delight of the people he met, young rockefeller seemed more than willing to share the wealth. he spoke of plans to buy a $9
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million oceanfront estate and his realtor, thinking about her big commission, was so impressed she gave christopher $100,000 of her own savings to invest. she said he told her, she, too, would be a millionaire. >> he owned an estate over in east hampton, he had jets, he had yachts. he had women coming from monaco. >> kim curry and her stock broker fiance got over their initial wariness about the t-shirt clad millionaire they'd been introduced to. after all, he was a rockefeller. >> okay. it's casual, the hamptons. not everyone dresses up. >> kim thought he was probably just trying to downplay his identity, as heir to one of the world's largest family fortunes. >> i thought, maybe he's looking for some downtime. >> but inevitably, the talk did get around to money. christopher had so much of it and he said he could help kim's fiance, who had just taken a big hit in the suddenly tumbling markets.
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>> the way he presented it was this -- i like you, i consider you a friend, i trust you. this is what i'm willing to do for you. you give me $50,000, i will invest this money. i will, in turn, give you $500,000. interest free and you'll pay me back in a year. >> and when would your fiance and you get this $500,000? >> immediately. >> their friend, corrine eeltink, was also invited to maken investment with a knockout payoff. >> we'll start right today with $25,000 investments. >> how much did he say you would make for your $25,000 investment? >> around $1 million and up, in over, like, three months. >> it all sounded unbelievably wonderful. a rockefeller promising a golden end to the summer for the chosen few. but even before labor day, the glimmer had begun to tarnish. >> i didn't know that there were any french rockefellers. >> like everyone who wined and dined at christopher rockefeller's table in the hampton's, kevin mccrary enjoyed the free and flowing champagne.
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but he says that from the beginning, something didn't seem quite right. >> why is this rockefeller coming across with this french accent? >> mccrary's suspicions led him to the internet to check out christopher rockefeller. >> there was a website that has the whole family tree of rockefellers. >> there they were. three generations of john d. rockefellers, nelson and david, and one name from the rockefeller family past that mccrary seized on. >> yes, there was a christopher rockefeller, but there was one slight discrepancy. that rockefeller, christopher rockefeller, died in 1790. >> so who was this christopher rockefeller who was making his mark? his given name was christopher, but his family name certainly wasn't rockefeller, not by a long shot. his real name was christopher rocancourt. as it turns out, he's a swindler
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with a long history of cons and a long trail of victims. christopher's story begins in the french city of awe fleur on the normandy coast. he was born in this tiny fishing village in 1967. rocancourt was the son of an alcoholic father who froze to death in the streets and a mother who was a sometimes-prostitute. by the age of 5, christopher had been abandoned by both of them and sent to live in an orphanage. how honest are you willing to give to us in the answers you give us? 100%? 70%? >> no, no. i don't have time to play games anymore. >> rocancourt had played the game for many years and he refused to admit that he was in fact a con man, always insisting that his victims were just bad business people who loaned him some money. >> so you're willing now, to say, for the first time that, i, christopher rocancourt, am a con man? >> i've been a confidence man.
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>> the abbreviation is con man. >> he prefers another word to describe his skills. >> actor. i've been a great actor. i don't think you can be a good con man, you know, without having some acting lessons. >> rocancourt said he started honing his acting skills at a very early age to conceal his less-than-glamorous upbringing. >> this is where we found your birth certificate. >> my birth certificate, yeah. >> after his parents abandoned him, he ended up here. >> i used to live on the top floor. >> for the first time in 25 years, rocancourt went back to the orphanage in normandy. he'd ran away from this place when he was just 13. >> i used to play marbles here. i used to dig a hole and play marbles. i always cheated. >> you always cheated? >> yeah. >> for christopher, the visit to the orphanage forced him to confront a painful memory and to reveal a secret he'd kept from everyone. >> i remember, my father bring me to this orphanage.
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the last time i saw him, i remember crying. he left. i think he didn't have the knowledge what the emptiness he left behind. >> at 19, he spent time in prison for forging checks and at 23, back on the streets, his first really big score. he says he forged a deed for a paris building he didn't own and then sold it. >> yeah. the whole building. that is what they call -- i did make a fake deed. i sell the whole building. >> how much did you sell this building for? that you didn't own. >> $1.4 million, something. >> dollars? >> yeah. >> he had described the kind of crime that would define his life. he would be a con man. eventually taking on many different identities, including christopher rockefeller, a name that he says just popped into his head as he signed the guest register at a hamptons gym.
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>> the lady says, what's your name, you know you have to register. i signed it rockefeller, just like that. >> just like that? >> just like that. >> what was the effect on other people the first time you used the name, rockefeller, and claimed it as your own? >> like an ice cream melted, people just melt. >> they just melted? >> yeah. coming up, we follow the trail of deception. >> you think, wow, what a great opportunity. >> and uncover the dark side of the confidence game. >> he would say, are you going to snitch on me? you know, you better not be stupid, because you'll take a very long nap. a gut feeling i am gonna ace this checkup. my vet thinks my insides are in mint condition. [ female announcer ] vets agree, a healthy checkup starts inside. our breakthrough iams premium protection formula is developed with vets with cutting edge ingredients for the lifelong health of your pet. [ dog ] healthy inside and out. come on, up high! [ female announcer ] iams premium protection. our most advanced iams nutrition. ever.
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in 2000, a french citizen by the name of christopher rocancourt had moved from los angeles, where he'd been swindling unsuspecting celebrities, to the east coast riviera, the hamptons. he had a new name to pass around. he started calling himself christopher rockefeller. >> i mean, you can be anything you want to be out here if you have enough money. >> the hampton's gossip
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columnist who calls himself sudsy says he didn't buy the charade. >> everyone knows there are no french rockefellers. >> well, certainly not everyone. most of those he met were only too willing to believe. >> so, i let it drop, and i think i heard something else later in the summer about this guy. this woman came in and said, oh, she had heard about a great investment. >> and so it went. in the summer playground for the rich, where old money only reluctantly mingles with the new, here was an a-list old money name who hung out only with new money wannabes. >> he kept away from real society. >> for kim curry, her fiance, and for others who invested bundles of cash with rockefeller, his name and his promises were good enough. >> i thought, okay, he's a rockefeller. >> still, kim was nervous and reluctant to part with her hard-earned money. >> it wasn't inherited money, it wasn't trust fund money. i mean, it's money that you go to work for every day and you
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work hard and it's very stressful. >> and the stress got even higher. first, christopher insisted the investment money be delivered in cash. hardly a professional way of doing business. and then, there was the bag man. christopher had sent his assistant, joseph, to pick up the money from the couple, and there they met a man who was frumpy and shabbily dressed. joseph strolled into the room, no briefcase in sight. >> you needed a bag to carry it out in. >> in fact, the only bag that joseph had was the one that held his lunch, a tuna fish sandwich. for a moment, kim hesitated and then she counted out the cash and searched for the perfect money pouch. >> i put it in some tissue and put it in a prada bag. and go, here you go. >> and away he went, along with her money. >> did you, when you went, figuratively or literally rub your hands together and go, oh, boy, we're going to have a good time here. >> no. >> you must have thought, this is good hunting ground.
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>> let me ask you something, you don't find that amazing, where you have the high society of it. where you have the elite. you know, spielberg, everybody's living over there. you don't find that amazing how much money's in that, that you can be that much greedy to get ripped off by a guy like me? how much greedy you have to be? how much money is enough? >> but you weren't going to the spielburgs, you were going to the stock brokers that had a tough year, and they thought because you were rockefeller -- >> the broker, the same way, they do greed. the stock broker is the same way. >> greed and class anxieties is the reality for the con man. and christopher, abandoned as a youngster, could see that burning desire for social status in his victims. he had become a master at exploiting it. and he also knew that certain areas of the country, like the hamptons, were so class conscious that he would never have a problem finding investors. that was the story in
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christopher's previous hunting grounds, los angeles, one year earlier, when he said he wanted to open a clothing boutique, he invited this woman to buy in. we'll call her maria. >> you think, wow, what a great opportunity. >> and the beverly wilshire hotel will be kept a three-bedroom suite at $15,000 a week dangled prime space for him on glitzy rodeo drive. >> he'd go into this space where they were building the store and all the contractors knew who he was. and they knew him as the future owner. >> so maria bought in, like kim curry, it was cash. $50,000 at first, but by the end -- >> $200,000. >> and how did the building staff or others he encountered in your presence react to him? >> they treated him as though he were god. >> christopher may not have been a god, but in his chosen circles in his l.a. days, he was certainly a star, and how he did shine. >> he says that he was here in the states investing in some serious film projects.
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he lives at the beverly wilshire and they have a suite. >> on the surface, it all seemed fine. but the boutique was hardly a legitimate business arrangement. investigators call christopher a con man and say it was all a glossy trap and that maria pounced on the bait, as did so many others. they say when christopher rolled out his charm and whatever famous name he'd plucked from the sky, he'd inevitably find people willing and even eager to toss money at the same investments that had made him so very, very rich. and then he'd take the cash from his new investors and use it to wine and dine and blind his next set of victims. maria says she never again saw a dime of her $200,000 investment. even the beverly wilshire hotel was left holding the bag for a $65,000 unpaid tab. in new york, in the hamptons alone, christopher cleared almost $1 million in barely half the summer season. coming up, the lies start to
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close in on christopher. when you married christopher, were you absolutely confident that you knew enough about this man? >> i didn't know every detail, no. [ male announcer ] members of the american postal workers union handle more than 165 billion letters and packages a year. that's about 34 million pounds of mail every day. ever wonder what this costs you as a taxpayer? millions? tens of millions? hundreds of millions? not a single cent. the united states postal service doesn't run on your tax dollars. it's funded solely by stamps and postage. brought to you by the men and women of the american postal workers union. ♪
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all eyes will be on iowa today where the first gop straw poll begins later. gop hopefuls spent time stumping to crowds statewide. rick perry is expected to formally announce today and the ski team removed a potential olympian after urinating on a flight next to a 12 year old. now back to "lockup."
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some con men like to stay in the shadows, silently tracking their prey like sharks, ready to pounce on unsuspecting victims. but at the turn of this century, this man, christopher rocancourt, a french-born swindler, was working the party circuit right out in the open, in two of the most high-profile places in the united states, hollywood and the hamptons. george mueller knows the alleged con man's history and patterns as well as anyone. as an investigator for the los angeles district attorney's office, he'd been trying to nail the 34-year-old frenchman for years. >> he wants to go down as being one of the best. >> the baddest and the best. >> the baddest and the best. he played the game beautifully. >> mueller says as rocancourt became more successful, anything imaginable was worth trying, like smuggling diamonds from africa. he had a fetish for fancy cars and police said he seemed to find a way to avoid paying for any of them. >> had a great ferrari, a
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ferrari test rosa, a range rover, and a bentley. >> not a bad fleet, to get around town. >> not bad at all. >> one of those was paid for by another mark, ageing pop singer who gave him $100,000 to get him a humvee. according to his security consultant, christopher ended up keeping the humvee and he also helped himself to a bit more of his money. >> when the final accounting came down, a total of $500,000 was taken. >> hello? >> candy from a baby, says mitch, hired trying to get his humvee and his money back. >> christopher rocancourt could sell an ice cube in hell. he's one of the smoothest salesmen i've seen and met. >> how much do you think you tricked people? >> a few dollar. >> how much? how much and how many? >> let's forget about it. >> you've thought about it. >> no, i don't thought about it. i did make a good living. >> you did make a good living? >> yeah.
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>> in the con man's world, one big secret to success is couched in irony, to surround yourself with people you can trust. police say in christopher rocancourt's world, that small circle included a hulking algerian, who called himself benny. >> christopher was using benny for being a bodyguard, running errands for him. benny's a big guy. and he wanted him there to play that part. >> benny played the part for close to a year, actually moving into the beverly wilshire suite for a while. eventually, benny and christopher had a falling out. >> i didn't know at the time that he was a con man. >> but christopher would soon learn never to double cross the man who knows your secrets. >> mr. rocancourt, in my feeling, is a very, very bad person. >> it was benny who would cause christopher's world to start cracking at the seams. benny, who called los angeles county investigator, george mueller, and started talking. not just about con jobs, but also about guns stashed in the suite and about other illegal
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activities. according to benny, christopher also had a corrupt beverly hills cop in his pocket. >> christopher was using him to either obtain information for him or just to have him around because he had a badge, christopher could then turn around and tell people, he's on my payroll, he works for me. >> and there was one more thing, benny alleged, illegal passports. passports christopher obtained by bribing federal officials. >> he showed me an american passport and put it in my face. and he goes, look, benny, you see who i am? i'm going to be the new boss in town. >> this was the break george mueller was looking for. a passport and bribery case that would be prosecuted much more easily than a scam whose alleged victims were reluctant to come forward. >> he would say, what is that supposed to mean? are you going to snitch on me? you better not be stupid, because you'll take a very long nap.
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>> he said those words to you? >> many times. >> so mueller focused on the passport case, but as the search warrant was being drawn up, christopher suddenly left town. far out of town. he took off for a rich man's tour of some asian hot spots with his expatriate pal, charles glenn. in this videotape, christopher seemed obsessed with his notoriety. he'd begun to fancy himself a mafia don. >> translator: you can see, i'm a modern godfather. >> he's always telling me, i'm the last of the godfather. i'm like, okay, whatever you want. >> back in l.a., meanwhile, mueller was piecing together rocancourt's criminal background, which included prison stretches in france and switzerland and counterfeiting and for a jewelry store robbery. and when he raided rocancourt's suite, there were guns and money and the paperwork for 100 schemes. >> tons of documents, he'd leave laying around for people to see. where he was renting a leer jet to fly to new york, where he was buying a winery, where he was buying a restaurant for almost $4 million. again, props.
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>> and those illegal passports. an indictment was handed down. christopher was arrested as soon as he returned from asia, but he was far from beaten. even as he faced trial, christopher called mueller to taunt him. >> he says, you know, george, he says, you're a good player, i'm a good player. he said, you know, if you would actually meet me for tea, he said, we could become friends. >> first conversation, he's calling you george? >> yes. and then he got a little more arrogant and said, if you do arrest me, i'll just bail out and flee the country. >> and that's exactly what he did. leaving behind a whole lot of broken promises and a whole collection of reported victims. and he also left behind a wife, a former "playboy" playmate, who for six years shared his money and his secrets. >> when you married christopher, were you absolutely confident you knew enough about this man? >> i didn't know every detail, no. >> what were your expectations of a life with him? >> well, that's the thing with christopher, every day is an
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adventure. >> the adventure for reyes began when she met christopher in 1995. she was a stunning out-of-work actress hostessing in an upscale bistro who had hit hollywood after "playboy" had named her miss november in 1988. she found a few acting jobs, mostly in "b" movies. >> fair enough. >> there had been television appearances. >> i suppose your boyfriend is a tackle for the rams, huh? >> no. the raiders. >> and a few commercials. >> but when a handsome young frenchman and his entourage swept into a restaurant, her life, just as in the movies, changed forever. >> very charismatic and very confident and he's funny. and he's a lot of fun to be with. >> pia said she found christopher irresistible and mysterious. she agreed to talk to us if we did not reveal where she lives today. >> what did he tell you he did? >> a business man.
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>> did he go into any greater detail than that? >> no. >> wherever they went, and no matter how many in the group, her new boyfriend always called for the check. >> everyone wanted to hang around him for that reason. >> thousands of bucks at a pop and he'd pick up the tab a lot? >> yes. >> did he tell you he was rich? >> he didn't tell me he was rich, but he always had a high life. >> but pia learned early on that life with christopher could change in a heartbeat. just four months after meeting, they went to las vegas where they did not leave the tables as winners. >> i think we had 31 cents left. >> you lost all the money that you had between the two of you gambling? >> yes. and we had nothing. so we got married. >> so you thought it was fall in love with, that he can be flush one day and flat broke, 13 cents to his name, the next? >> yeah. that's it. but like i said, he had his ambition. and you know, he can make money. >> that, he could.
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unbelievably, a few months later, they were living in beverly hills and they weren't down and out. christopher had paid cash up front for a three-bedroom suite in the lushest hotel in the city, the regent beverly wilshire. >> how did you end up moving into a grand suite at the beverly wilshire hotel? >> he surprised me. >> and it was while living in this fabulous suite in the wilshire that pia gave birth to the couple's son, zeus. at first, christopher unlike his own father was loving and devoted. >> what kind of father was he to this infant boy? >> unbelievable. you know, he's the best father anyone can imagine. >> how, why? in what way? >> he'd do anything for his son. he would just, you know, get down on the floor and play with him. >> but down in the hotel lobby, christopher was playing other, more sinister games with the manager. it started with the billing
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arrangement at the hotel. christopher didn't use his name, rocancourt, or rockefeller. he used pia's last name, he was christopher reyes. pia didn't seem to mind. >> just registered under reyes. >> did he also introduce himself as christopher reyes to some people? >> well, it's not a big deal to me. >> but using fake names would turn out to be a big deal to others, especially when that name was rockefeller. >> it's almost like completely ridiculous to use the name rockefeller. i mean, how can you believe someone has a french accent with an american historical name? next, christopher plays tag. this time with the cops. >> that was the last we saw of him. to power our lives. while energy developement comes with some risk, north america's natural gas producers are committed to safely and responsibly
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after he conned his way through hollywood, the law caught up with the man who called himself christopher rockefeller. in 1998, christopher rocancourt was arrested in los angeles. but then in a move that startled everyone, everyone, that is, except those who knew him best, christopher jumped bail. >> christopher was never coming back to l.a. to face charges. >> l.a. county investigator, george mueller. >> christopher was on the run, and he was going to continue to defraud people. christopher will always come up with a new name. he's been a former race car driver, has been prince, has been royalty, the nephew of famous people. christopher is always thinking ahead of who's going to be next. again, it's always to target somebody of when field they're in. christopher always will come up with a new name, because that's what he's good at doing. >> and so it was in the summer of 2000, while he was on the run from the law in l.a., christopher arrived in the hamptons. it was for this limited run
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performance that he borrowed the name christopher rockefeller. the would-be rockefeller who ended up conning all those hamptonites. and it turned out that his game almost ended there, when at summer's end, he was thrown in jail for not paying a $20,000 hotel bill. hampton police sergeant, margaret dunne, and her partner, jerry larsen, got the case. >> what are people saying when you say they stiffed him for a lot of dough? >> all a big understanding. the money's available, it could be wired, he'd be happy to pay the bill. >> once again, christopher talked his way out of a jam. the east hampton cops ran his fingerprints to check for outstanding warrants in new york state. there weren't any. but they didn't do a nationwide check. so with only the innkeeper's complaint on the record, bail was set at $45,000. christopher's wife, pia, produced the cash with no problem. >> where'd you get the $45,000? >> it was just there. >> where? >> in the house.
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>> and once again, as he bragged he could always do when the law got too close, christopher disappeared. left the hamptons, left new york, left the country. even left his wife and son. >> it's christopher. he's unpredictable. >> he had posted his $45,000 bail and he'd fled. that was the last we saw of him. >> it was only after christopher disappeared that the story of the phony rockefeller spread like wildfire and made for sensational headlines. that's when the local police found out that christopher was a fugitive, wanted in los angeles. l.a. detective george mueller wasn't surprised to learn of christopher's latest exploits and escape. and he expected christopher would soon be up to his old tricks again. >> the game's not done. he still wants to play that game. and he needs that, he thrives on that. and he wants it. the question was, where would christopher wind up next? the answer, canada. it was april 2001, eight months after he ducked out of the
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hamptons, that christopher defrauded an elderly couple of at least $100,000 in a real estate deal. and the canadian mounties got the man that everyone else was looking for, arresting christopher at this seaside hotel. >> a simple charge of fraud relating to business transactions and financing schemes. >> christopher eventually pleaded guilty to scamming that elderly couple in canada and agreed to return to the u.s. here, he also entered guilty pleas to the l.a. charges of gun possession and to bribing passport officials and to fraud charges in the hamptons. his sentence, five years in prison, and court-ordered restitution of $1.2 million to the few victims who'd come forward. >> i do believe christopher got a pretty good deal. >> too good a deal, says l.a. detective, george mueller, who'd pursued christopher for years. >> i believe he probably defrauded closer to $5 million, but there are a lot more victims out there. a lot of people just haven't come forward because of the embarrassment to them. >> the charade was over.
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his wife, pia, who was now taking care of christopher's young son, was briefly detained and then released. >> what was the last thing he said to you? >> the last thing he said to me is, just take care of my son. >> take care of yourself. >> take care of my son. >> did he tell you, flat out, was he honest enough with you to say, you know, i'm leaving you. it's over for us. >> he doesn't tell me very much. >> did he at least tell you that? >> no, he didn't. >> next, the con man comes clean. or does he? >> do you think you've accomplished anything? do you think you're a hero? nn male a what'd you use? every pct we finish comes with a story built-in. it's how our rough ideas become "you did that yourself?" so when we can save more on the projects that let us fix, make, and do more...
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spring 2006. the con man who calls himself an
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actor, christopher rocancourt, having served his time in an american prison, is back on french soil. some of his victims were compensated for their losses, a few. others were either unsuccessful or too embarrassed to claim against him. >> you paid? >> no, i paid. five years ago, everything is take away. where you just become a slave. i pay my bill for the first time. >> he said he always counted on his victims, thinking they were taking advantage of him, counting on their greed. >> you think for that time, you can profit better with me. >> so you think those people should be punished? >> no, no. you've been dumb, you've been stupid. just like i did prison time, i take my time. just accept it for fact. you're not that bright, you've
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been stupid. just accept it. oh, you've been ripped off. >> but what you have done is criminal, you admit that? >> no question. >> but you don't feel any sympathy for the people who lost money because they were greedy and lost money, you don't feel sorry for them? >> no. i keep it real. you want honesty? you have it. i keep it real. what do you want me to tell you? i have a feeling i don't have? i don't. >> given the french appetite for his story, he was about to pull off the ultimate con. while laws in some parts of the united states make it illegal for christopher to profit from his crimes, in france he was free to turn his celebrity as a criminal into a legitimate money-making venture. rocancourt had a team of handlers selling the rights to his story to the french media. they were the first photos of the phony rockefeller for sale. the first print interview.
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the first french tv interview. an entertainment show got that one. and while he was in prison, he wrote a best seller called "i, christopher rocancourt: orphan, playboy, prisoner." a deal for a second book was signed within days of his arrival. he even sold the rights to his name on a clothing line. in fact, he's being treated as something of a national hero. the solitary french rogue who beat the big americans at their own greedy game. >> do you think you've accomplished anything? do you think you're a hero? >> let's forget what i did accomplish. it's just a story to be told. to be a french citizen, barely speak english. come to america, i say, hey, i'm here, there you go. let's make this playground. i think it's humorous.
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i think it's great, it's funny, but there's no accomplishment. >> andy warhol once gave the opinion that in future everyone will be famous for 15 minutes. do you worry at some point there'll be fatigue over the christopher rocancourt story and how do you make a living then and why would you not go back to the old life, which you were very good at? >> first of all, because, like you know, there's a movie. i'm going to work on that. i make great money on it. i write a book. it did become a best seller. i make great money. i write a second book again. >> question, are you going to live an honest life now? honest and always? >> yeah, i will. if you ask me, i will never lie again? no, of course i will lie again. on what level? not the same level. let's not be foolish there. i'm not a stupid man. okay. i'm well known for what i did. come on. no.
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you can be a good player, but there is a time where you just retreat, you know. you have to stop it. >> and you're saying that won't happen again? no, i will not. i think it's a closed chapter. >> he's not going to change. you can't take the lines off a zebra. >> george mueller, the l.a. investigator who tracked rocancourt's con man career isn't buying it. >> i don't believe the game is over. i think christopher will be back doing what he does. i don't believe he's going to change his ways. >> but rocancourt insists, if anything will convince him to change his ways, it's his son, zeus. >> i have so much love for that child, who is my son. i think it's the most, most feeling i ever had for -- that i love -- >> for any human being? >> yeah. >> because i want to ask you about that, christopher. the most painful thing in your life -- >> mm-hmm. >> and i know what this is like, is not having a father or mother of your own.
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that's the most painful thing for you. yet because of the choices you made, the way you lived your life, your son, zeus, has been deprived of his father. you did that. >> yeah. it's where the failure is. that failure. there's no question about it. >> rocancourt says he will be honest with his son and tell him about his life of crime. but exactly how much he'll tell him or ever tell anyone is still unknown. when you spend time with a con man, as we did, it's easy to see how his charm and his glib patter could talk a lot of people out of a lot of money. and it's impossible not to conclude that for this orphan turned millionaire, crime apparently did pay. >> how many millions in your life did you make? >> at least 40. all my life, i had probably -- have $40 million. >> which means you made $40 million? >> all my life, my whole life? yeah, easy, yeah.


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