Black-ish (sometimes referred to as Blackish) star scammed for over $400K by a gym manager who became romantically involved with her before tricking her into investing in a fraudulent sound design company.
According to the British tabloid the Daily Mail, Antonio Mariot Wilson, 57, and from Santa Monica, pleaded guilty after getting several women to invest thousands of dollars into a fake company. Wilson also used other false aliases to boost up his credentials like “Dr. Tony Mariot.”
Black-ish star Jenifer Lewis, who plays Ruby Johnson on the hit ABC sitcom, got caught up in the romance scam after meeting the con artist at her gym. Although Lewis’s early success was in films, she first became famous in the television world when she guest-starred in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air as Will Smith’s Aunt Helen.
It’s not unusual to hear about senior citizens to fall victim to online scams. While Lewis is not yet a senior at the age of 63, older women who are less tech-savvy are frequent victims of fraud.
Wilson convinced Lewis to invest $50,000 of her money into one of his investment scams.
With all the women he conned, he’d get them into a relationship with him and then ask for money. Overall, Wilson made off with over $400,000. During that time, he pretended to be a Navy Seal, an Oxford professor, and pretended to work in the film industry.
This incident isn’t the first time the alleged scam artist has done this. In 2009, he served a four-year prison sentence for wire fraud and tax evasion.
LA Fitness Settles Lawsuit After Blackish Star Scammed
Lewis initially met with Wilson in LA Fitness, where he worked as a front desk manager. Lewis said the Wilson initially approached under the guise of becoming her trainer. The relationship later became personal and was convinced to invest in a phony sound design company.
Lewis had no idea that Wilson was a life long con artist that researched her beforehand and targeted her for the scam. He learned everything about her and then used that knowledge against her.
This is a horrible man, I really got hurt. It was really painful.– Jennifer Lewis
Lewis stated that Wilson previously went to jail for ripping off 13 people out of 14.3 million dollars. During the time Wilson was running the con on Lewis, he was out on parole.
Now with this second charge, Wilson faces up to 20 years in prison. Lewis did receive some of her money back from LA Fitness, where Wilson worked.
Lewis said that she initially thought that the LA Fitness gym management was possibly in on the con because “they did nothing” to help her at first, and went so far as defend Wilson, saying he was a “good guy.” Lewis sued the gym and settled the lawsuit for $13,000.