The FBI are the last people “The Sopranos” would call for help.
But this is real life, not Hollywood, and some of the actors who played mobsters on HBO’s hit series said they have called the feds to report fake Facebook accounts using their names to scam their fans.
Vincent Curatola, who played New York underboss Johnny “Sack” Sacrimoni, found out about a fake account using his identity when people contacted him demanding memorabilia they’d purchased, personalized videos, or entrance to his acting workshop, his wife told a Globe reporter on Monday.
Curatola has never had a Facebook account. That didn’t matter.
Maureen Curatola said someone made a Facebook account in Curatola’s name, lifted his photos, videos on Cameo, and appearances at SopranosCon, the mobster convention put on by Rhode Island entrepreneur Michael A. Mota.
Then, the fake Curatola offered acting classes, personalized shout-outs, and autographed memorabilia for sale — none of which were ever delivered.
The customers complained to the real Curatolas. “They are angry. They paid a lot of money. There are sad stories — grandfathers who bought acting lessons for their grandchildren,” Maureen Curatola said.
Maureen Curatola said they had tried multiple times to get Facebook to take down the fake account.
“Facebook has done nothing. We reported it to the fraud department. They allow this to go on and on,” she said.
After the Globe sent screenshots of the fake accounts to Facebook, a spokesman for Meta, the parent company of Facebook, said in an email Tuesday that the company had flagged the accounts.
“Impersonation of notable individuals is an internet-wide challenge we and other companies continue to take action against and continue to improve our detection,” spokesman Tracy Clayton said in an email. “In this case, we flagged the accounts as fake and they won’t be able use those accounts without confirming the actors’ real identity.”
Meta says that it uses detection technology to block millions of attempts to create fake accounts every day and detect millions more often within minutes after creation. The company said that it removed 676 million fake accounts on Facebook from April through June of this year, and encourages people to report impersonating accounts.
Even so, the fake Facebook account of Curatola was still going strong on Tuesday, despite efforts by the actor and others to shut it down. As Facebook assured the Globe that the accounts were flagged, the fake Curatola page was posting a stolen video of the actor and soliciting fans to “reach out” to get their own personalized shout-outs.
Birthdays Pep talk Anniversary Reach out to me anytime.Posted by Vincent Curatola on Tuesday, November 14, 2023
Other Sopranos cast members, including Michael Imperioli (Christopher Moltisanti) and Federico Castelluccio (Furio Giunta), also became victims of the Facebook impersonators.
A company that deals in official Sopranos memorabilia warned its customers not to purchase anything from the fake accounts. Some of the company’s photos of merchandise were being used on the fake accounts, Sopranos Memorabilia said.
The fake accounts tell fans to send a direct message about their purchase. The fans are told where to send their money — screenshots shared with the Globe showed the imposters gave different addresses for CashApp and Venmo that were not under the actors’ names.
The money was sent, but the purchases never arrived.
Castelluccio recently took to Instagram to warn fans.
“You want to not buy anything from this guy,” said Castelluccio, who also doesn’t have a Facebook account. “This guy’s a scammer and he’s going to try to sell you something that is not available. So, if you pay this guy, you’ve lost that money.”
Castelluccio said he was reporting the scam to the FBI.
So are other cast members.
The FBI investigates identity theft, as well as counterfeit and fraudulently autographed memorabilia, which are federal crimes.
Like Castelluccio, the Curatolas also notified the FBI, as well as their local police and state police.
What would Johnny Sack do? He once memorably threatened Tony Soprano over disrespect: “I will rain down a (expletive) on you and your family like you have never [expletive] seen.”
Curatola took a similar tone in an Instagram video, where he addressed the con artist who stole his name and robbed his fans.
“This is fraud, and for your information, I have already reported this to the FBI,” Curatola said. “They are working on it and they are tracking.”
This story has been updated with a comment from Facebook parent company, Meta.