tv Nightline ABC November 21, 2014 12:37am-1:08am PST
sometimes i mess up this is "nightline." tonight, what if you got a call saying your daughter was in a horrible car accident, but it all turns out to be a hoax. confessions of a con man. >> i am a dangerous person on the telephone. >> the scam to steal your money, and how you can protect your family. plus how do you go from a fan of beyonce to a friend of beyonce. >> i'm going to do your choreography. >> from being known only as ariana grand day's brother to becoming a star on your own. tonight the social media moguls are showing us how to achieve conventional fame in an unconvulsional way. and a legendary icon dies at
shell out when the safety of a loved one is at stake. they'll target parents and grandparents. so how can you protect yourself? a former con artist is letting us in on their secrets. >> i was at my office at work and got a phone call on my cell phone. he said do you have a daughter or son and i said yes, i have a daughter. >> reporter: it was 11:00 a.m. when lou ann and betty ann's world was shattered with a single phone call. >> he said there's been a terrible accident, four cars at an intersection. >> now i'm panicking freaking out. he said what kind of a car does she have. i said it's a kia. he said it's a kia here. desperate to get to their daughter. >> i'm thinking she's laying in a highway unconscious and they wouldn't say where she was exactly. >> reporter: and then the story took an unexpected but even more
frightening turn. >> finally i was like, look, you got to tell me exactly where you are and what the hell is going on now. then his whole demeanor changed and he was like, now you wait a minute. >> she was white as a ghost. >> okay, we have her at gunpoint and we're going to kill her if you don't give me $1700. i never felt terror before in my life. this was absolute terror, having your child's life in your hands. >> reporter: little did they know they were on the receiving end of the latest technique in an otherwise old low tech phone scam, con artists claiming to have kidnapped a loved one to make you pay up. 25 million americans lose more than $2.5 billion to fraud each year, and phone scams which account for a big chunk of that have been surprisingly successful for decades. maybe they want you to invest in an oil or gas deal or gold coins. maybe you won the lottery. or maybe it's someone posing as
an irs agent saying you owe back taxes. whatever the pitch, these con artists are like top notch sales people, and they're supreme ext effective. >> it's emotionally driven, it's not logic. >> reporter: meet jimmy, a convicted con artist. >> these are dangerous people you're on the phone with, make no bones about it. i am a dangerous person on the telephone. if i choose to be fraudulent in my practices, there's nothing that's going to stop me from taking lots of money from people, period, the end. >> i don't know how people sleep at night doing this kind of thing. >> reporter: this man of the aarp has interviewed jimmy and more than a dozen like him trying to understand how they're able to pull off a scam most of us think we would never fall fo are. >> we ask what is your central strategy and they said get them under the either. >> under the either? >> you're no longer thinking
rationally. this explains why so many people fall for this. how could somebody that smart fall for this. it's not their intellect that's engaged. it's the emotion. >> reporter: like claiming a child has been kidnapped. >> looking back, i don't think i could have done anything different, not at all. when they do that to you, they pull right at your emotions and you're raw and you're terrorized and whatever, you'll do anything. >> what is wrong with you? >> reporter: listen to this and just imagine you're own mother or grandmother on the other end of the line. >> and i don't want to do the verification. >> are you stupid? if you were in front of me, old lady, man, i would have slapped you right now. >> reporter: he's received piles of recordings from state attorney general investigations into phone scams, sort of a top 40 collection for criminals with no conscience. >> there's no shortage of people still calling. >> reporter: many filled with
abusive and demeaning language, even threats. >> you'll never ever be anything. you're going to your grave a loser. a big loser. i think you're terrible. >> there are thousands of people out there who are suffering in silence like this. >> reporter: but for law enforcement tracking down the scammers can be challenging. >> it's easy to avoid detection and a lot of times people are embarrassed to report them which makes it an even bigger problem. prevention is the key and the smarter consumers are, the more likely they can prevent this. >> reporter: the new york attorney general's office is currently taking on the grandparent phone scam where a grandparent gets a call supposedly from a grandchildren in trouble. >> what we're here to do today is to enlist you guys, you students, to be fraud fighters. >> reporter: the eegs office is reaching out to teenage grandkids. >> who wants to be the con artist who pretends to be the
grandson. >> reporter: to try to get them to warn their families about the phony phone calls that could come their way. >> why are you calling me at this hour? >> reporter: investigators say they're up against crooks who have no problem tugging at a person's emotion to rip them off. >> i think that there is really no sense of propriety about what these people do anymore. it suits them. >> this is all ready for that. >> reporter: betty ann and lou ann say they were lucky to be together when that phony kidnapping call came in. while lou ann was on the phone with the scammer, betty ann franticly tried to call their daughter. >> i called again and there was no answer. i called again and i said where are you. finally i get a text back and said i'm in class. what is wrong. >> i was in the middle of a class getting ready to take a test. >> i said tell me the password. we have a password, a code so i know she's okay. >> once i knew it was a scam i
hung up on the son of a bitch. >> i got upset and then angry. who is doing this to my mother. who are you to do this to my mother? this is my mother, this is my family. >> reporter: they filed a police report but doubt the callers will ever be caught which is why they asked us not to use their full name. >> they're not going to get me. i'm too smart for that. but they got the info they needed and used it against me. >> reporter: investigators warn even if you keep your doors locked and password security, crooks walk into your life and sometimes they're just a phone call away. >> it's a happy ending, thank god. next, the new social media mogul are turning themselves into fame and fortune.
later on "nightline" we're regular is the graduate director mike nichols, his life, his work, his family. curl up with their favorite man. but here's the thing: about half of men over 40 have some degree of erectile dysfunction. well, viagra helps guys with ed get and keep an erection. and remember, you only take it when you need it. ask your doctor if your heart is healthy enough for sex. do not take viagra if you take nitrates for chest pain; it may cause an unsafe drop in blood pressure. side effects include headache, flushing, upset stomach and abnormal vision. to avoid long-term injury, seek immediate medical help for an erection lasting more than four hours. stop taking viagra and call your doctor right away if you experience a sudden decrease or loss in vision or hearing. ask your doctor about viagra.
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a new breed of celebrities taking a do-it-yourself approach to fame. instead of waiting to be discovered they're amassing followers on twitter or youtube then bringing social media success beyond virtual reality. tonight we're trying something new with pioneers frankie grande taking on online accounts for a hands-on lesson about the thumb form. get your hands ready.
here's abc's paula faris. >> reporter: this is one of the biggest nights of frankie grande's life. he's just minutes away from his debut in broadway's mega hit musical "rock of ages." >> look how cute! >> reporter: to these adoring fans he's already a bona fide star. >> it's time to shine bright on broadway. >> reporter: it wasn't just a great audition tape or a hot head shot that got him the role. it was videos like this. >> welcome to ten things that you may or may not know about freddie. >> reporter: he couldn't find fame the traditional way. he had auditioned for the show four times but never made the cut, so he took matters into his own hands, tweeting, instagraming and youtubing his way into mainstream success. and it didn't hurt that his baby sister is break free pop sensation ariana grande. ♪ >> reporter: taking a page from mega stars like taylor swift and justin bieber, remember they
started out in videos like this too. frankie is part of a new breed of celebrities. >> it's so good to be home! >> reporter: social media masterminds. like youtube juggernaut todrick hall. he's been tapped to star in his own reality show on mtv next year. ♪ ♪ going to see my reality show coming to mtv ♪ >> reporter: he's even managed by scooter braun, the man behind artists like justin bieber, ariana grande, and the wanted. >> you have to be relevant on social media. it doesn't matter how famous you are. >> welcome to new york, hi. >> reporter: for most people it's easy to get lost on the streets of the big apple. >> you're walking with glitter on your face. >> reporter: but frankie can't help but stand out. he invited us to follow him for a day. >> happy frankie friday. >> reporter: we mean in real life, not on twitter. >> we're on "nightline." okay. i'm going to teach you to do the
perfect selfie face. you have to do the duck lips to the side and do this. then you've got to do this. >> did you wake up one day and say i want to create a youtube channel? >> no. kind of. i woke up one day, i have no idea why i don't do this. then i started. then i had 100,000 subscribers in like two months. >> reporter: he started up those posts ranging from the random -- >> i love you! >> reporter: to the ridiculous. >> happy topless tuesday! >> i'm glad this interview didn't happen on a tuesday. it's just you that has to go topless, not me. >> correct. >> reporter: as his page views soared, so did his public profile. >> can you believe you have so many subscribers? >> no. in two years, that's crazy. >> you actually enjoy being recognized? >> yes, i do. >> i think it's going to be a hell of a good week. >> reporter: this summer he got his wish, hanging out with other house guests on cbs's "big brother," but he still had big broadway dreams, so he came back
for his fourth audition of "rock of ages." this time something stuck. >> never hurts to have somebody who's got an increased profile and creates a lot of buzz and attention. ♪ >> reporter: attention is what frankie lives for. >> it's my show! >> you're so fired up. this role that you tried out for so many times is becoming a reality. >> i'm so excited. hi, what's up? what's your name? >> jessica. >> nice to meet you. why do you love me? >> because you're awesome. >> you're so sweet. so nice to meet you. let's take a selfie. >> how popular do you think you would be if your last name was not grande? >> when people have this drive and passion and light, it doesn't really matter what your last name is. >> reporter: on opening night, the only grande these fans are here to see is frankie. across the country, youtube phenom todrick hall is bringing
his star power all the way home to where it began, in the lone star state. ♪ ♪ my life got turned upside down ♪ he's filming an episode of his upcoming mtv show, and we've got exclusive access. becoming a viral sensation wasn't exactly what todrick grew up dreaming about. >> when i was a young kid i was like, i just want to be a costume character in disney world. >> reporter: eventually his creativity would shine on a bigger stage, "american idol." ♪ ♪ i try and i try and i try but his path to hollywood hit a road block. >> it was a horrible feeling. i remember just being so depressed the day after i got cut. >> reporter: forcing him to take an unconventional detour. >> i started making youtube videos. i had no idea what i was even doing. i put a video up of me singing at mcdonald's and the rest is history. ♪ if it's mickey ds, i'm loving it ♪ >> reporter: a video that's received over 8 million views and was followed by many fast food jingles and flash mobs, but
none were as successful as this one at target which caught the eye of his idol, queen bee herself. >> todrick hall, you did an amazing job. >> reporter: beyonce invited him to choreograph "blow." >> she told me which part she didn't like and what she did, very hands-on. it inspired me for that video. i want to be that hands-on, i want to be involved in every aspect. costumes, makeup, hair, everything. >> reporter: now one of forbes 30 under 30 in hollywood, todrick's videos have been a huge cash cow. >> there are a lot of people that are millionaires off of youtube. you look at someone's youtube views and multiply that by $3,000 and there you have it. >> reporter: beyond the money, the thing he's most proud of is inspiring kids like him who grow up feeling like outcasts. ♪ but it gets better it gets better but it gets better ♪ >> that reminds me of why we're here making art and why we're making music.
>> reporter: it seems like the message from both of these social media mega stars, hashtag be yourself, hashtag do it yourself. >> i believe in myself. i don't have to be on a panel and have judges telling me whether or not what i did is great because i can put it on youtube and the world can decide if they like it or not. that's a true testament of what my art is. >> reporter: for "nightline," i'm paula faris in new york. next, the passing of an entertainment icon, mike nichols dies at 83. we're paying tribute to some of the best moments he created in films like "who's afraid of virginia woolf." and his successes off screen as well.
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finally tonight, the multi-talented mike nichols passes away at the age of 83. from film to stage, television, it seemed there was no art form he could not elevate. "nightline" co anchor dan harris remembers some of the finest examples from a beautiful life. >> mrs. robinson, you're trying to seduce me. >> he was the man behind the camera in some of the most iconic scenes in hollywood's most unforgettable movies. from "the graduate" to "working girl." >> i have a head for business and a bod for sin. >> reporter: mike nichols, it is safe to say, is a true legend of american entertainment, one of the few people ever to win an oscar, tony, emmy and grammy. >> the winner is mike nichols.
>> i'm grateful to them and to the academy and to the movies themselves, and i'd also like to wish my mother a happy birthday. >> reporter: his was an extraordinary life. he escaped nazi germany at age 7, coming to america barely knowing any english. in college, he met a young actress named elaine may. together they started the famous comedy duo, nichols and may. >> i feel awful. >> oh, honey, if i could believe that i'd be the happiest mother. >> reporter: he directed his first play, "barefoot in the park," and received his first tony. ♪ who's afraid of ha ha ha >> reporter: then the movies, starting with "who's afraid of virginia woolf." then "carnal knowledge," "heartburn," "postcards from the edge," and "charlie wilson's war."
but he said that for him, life didn't truly begin until he was age 54 and met diane sawyer, a legend in her own right. thus began a decades long romance and marriage. diane was right by his side when nichols was honored with a lifetime achievement award. >> he is the most encouraging person that i have ever met. >> i remember in "silkwood" once you said to me, directing is like making love. you never know if you're doing it right. >> reporter: at 80 he won a tony for a revival of "death of a salesman." >> you see before you a happy man. >> reporter: he was working on "master class" for hbo starring meryl streep when he died at home suddenly of a cardiac arrest at age 83. his wife, diane, by his side. >> life is so short. >> reporter: today on "the view," whoopi goldberg, who was discovered by mike nichols, broke down while announcing the news.
>> this man meant the world to her. >> love, family, food, movies. good night moon, good night stars. i'll see you on the set and on the beach and in the kitchen and at the movies. >> reporter: for "nightline," this is dan harris in new york. >> a grand life lived well. diane and her family are in our thoughts and prayers tonight. thank you for watching abc news. tune in to "good morning america" tomorrow and as always we're online at abcnews.com. good night, america.
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