Maria Gabriela Perez, 51, has been a long sought-after skin care specialist to many celebrities who sang her praises and trusted her with not only their famous faces but their credit card information. The self-described Beverly Hills ‘skin care artist’ has now been arrested by US Secret Service agents and is being charged with credit card fraud in connection with bilking several A-list clients out of thousands of dollars.
Actress, Liv Tyler, is reportedly the biggest victim of the theft of the credit card info. Ms. Perez is alleged to have run up charges of around $214,000 to two of Liv Tyler’s American Express cards over a five month period.
An investigation into the matter evidently began after more than a few clients discovered bogus charges on their credit card statements. Jewel designer Loree Rodkin’s attorney told investigators that they contacted Ms. Perez after discovering $68,000 worth of wrongful charges coming from Chez Gabriela. Maria Gabriela Perez tried to settle the dispute by offering Ms. Rodkin $25,000 worth of products, but the offer was rejected.
Other stars whose credit card information was misused include Jennifer Aniston, Anne Hathaway and Cher, although Cher’s people says the singer has not lost any money.
Cher is one of the stars whose testimonial appears on Chez Gabriela’s website. Cher describes Perez as “the Michelangelo of skin care.” Other famous clients listed on her website are Halle Berry and Penelope Cruz.
Hilary Clark, a 20th Century Fox VP, has been a long-time client. Her testimonial says: “Gabriela has been in my life for the past eight years and visting her is often the highlight of a very grueling week. Her studio is a private little haven, a womb, a retreat.”
That little haven and retreat was already charging some pretty hefty fees for skin care. Just your basic “Gabriela” Facial Treatment for evaluation of your skin and initial basic skin repair facial cost $500, and a complete basic facial could run all the way up to $1,900. As its name implies, the “Double” Treatment cost (almost) double. The price of the “Diamond Powder” Treatment starting at $3,000 would run close to 10 grand since the treatment requires a minimum of three sessions at 3 grand a pop, and the tailored “Platinum Celebrity” Treatment was $6,000 and up.
Why would someone who has a long-time successful business and a repeat clientele of celebrities who love her work do something like this? Maybe her business was in trouble or maybe it was just a case of greed or jealousy. Maybe, if you believe her attorney, Jerod Gunsberg, she didn’t do it at all. Gunsberg says that Ms. Perez will be cleared of all charges.
Sources: NY Daily News: Jennifer Aniston, Cher, Anne Hathaway among celebs
allegedly ripped off by Beverly Hills salon owner, 8/18/2010