Not long ago Maria Gabriela Perez, 51, was famous for her prestigious skin care salon catering to countless A-list celebrities. But now, the owner of Chez Gabriela Salon in Beverly Hills is making headlines for a completely different reason – credit card fraud. Perez allegedly made bogus charges on credit cards of celebrity clients such as Jennifer Aniston, Anne Hathaway, Liv Tyler, Melanie Griffith and possibly Cher. Apparently, Perez thought she could illegally charge thousands upon thousands of dollars to the credit cards of her various celebrity clients and no one would notice.
Law enforcements officials say uncovering the massive scam began when Liv Tyler’s management “discovered $214,000 in bogus charges allegedly made by the salon to the actress’ two American Express credit cards between June and November 2009.” (NY Daily News) Also adding to the mountain of quickly growing suspicion was the accusation that Perez racked up $68,000 in unauthorized charges on Loree Rodkin’s credit card, a jewelry designer whose loyal customers include First Lady Michelle Obama. Prosecutors say Perez actually tried to offer Rodkin $25,000 in skin care products as a settlement. Wow. I guess that sounded like a fair trade to her.
Explaining why she stopped going to the salon five years ago, Jennifer Aniston told Good Morning America, “We had a situation that was not cool and I stopped going to her. I knew something like this would happen eventually because you can’t just get away with something like that.” Aniston said she paid for her last service a long time ago when she stopped patronizing the Chez Salon, but Perez has reportedly made a fraudulent charge or more on Aniston’s credit card since then.
According to the New York Daily News prosecutors say, “Most of the charges were made from Chez Gabriela Studio with the numbers from the credit cards entered manually – meaning the plastic wasn’t swiped.”
Authorities say Perez has been officially charged with two counts of credit card fraud and, if found guilty, could face up to twenty-five years in prison. If the case goes to trial it is sure to be a high profile courtroom drama with multiple celebrities on the potential witness list ready to testify.
The attorney representing Perez says, “At this time she is innocent of all charges. She is a legitimate business woman who provides legitimate services. We are confidant when the facts come out my client will be exonerated of all charges.”
And so goes the story of a successful business owner who got greedy and soon got caught…allegedly, of course.
NY Daily News
Good Morning America, ABC