Who Tried to Steal Graceland?

Who Tried to Steal Graceland?

June 14, 2024, 9:19 PM UTC

BRANSON, Mo. — The quest to uncover the masterminds behind a plot to seize Elvis Presley’s Graceland estate recently led investigators to a tranquil city near the Ozark Mountains. This journey, which spanned decades and crossed state lines, culminated at a trailer with a gnome-lined porch by a winding lake.

The convoluted path began with a bold scheme that made international headlines in May. Naussany Investments, a seemingly non-existent company run by fictitious individuals, filed a claim to take control of Graceland, alleging an unpaid debt. They claimed Lisa Marie Presley, Elvis’ only child, owed them millions in unpaid loans. After failing to collect from her estate, they sought to foreclose on the historic Memphis mansion.

The documents supporting Naussany Investments’ case were quickly identified as forgeries. Within days, the foreclosure sale was halted by a judge, and the scammers confessed. Posing as “Kurt Naussany,” “Gregory Naussany,” and “Carolyn Williams,” the scammers admitted their plot in emails to NBC News and other outlets. They claimed to be part of a Nigerian identity theft ring and boasted about their continued scams.

This confession seemed to close the case, now under investigation by the Tennessee attorney general. However, the story didn’t end there. The forged documents contained clues leading not to West Africa but to Branson, Missouri, a city five hours northwest of Graceland. Here, a convoluted dispute on Facebook and in local courts revealed surprising connections to the Naussany case.

Branson, known for its annual Elvis festival and Mount Rushmore-like attraction featuring “the King,” became the focal point. The trail led to a grandmother named Lisa Holden, a con woman with a long history of romance scams, forged checks, and bank fraud. She had served time in state and federal prison.

Lisa Holden, known by various last names including Howell, Findley, and Sullins, was found through Facebook and Google. She used the name Naussany to post reviews, both negative and positive. Multiple links connected her to the Graceland scam, including phone and fax numbers, post office boxes, and fake personas.

Those who knew Lisa described her as a determined scammer. Paula O’Dell, who successfully sued Lisa in 2007, recalled her persistence. “Oh, she does not quit,” O’Dell said. When a reporter mentioned Lisa’s name, O’Dell’s reaction was, “What’s she done now?”

Last summer, “Kurt Naussany” began emailing Lisa Marie Presley’s estate, demanding payment on a $3.8 million loan allegedly taken out in 2018, with Graceland as collateral. The estate’s lawyers identified the documents as forgeries and filed a complaint to stop the foreclosure sale.

It became clear that Kurt Naussany did not exist, nor did the name Naussany. There were no records of it in public databases or court filings. The only other name associated with the attempted sale was Carolyn Williams, listed as Naussany’s “senior collection officer” in the forged documents.

While Kurt and Carolyn didn’t exist in reality, they had online presences. A “Kurt Naussany” left a negative Google review for a Tulsa car dealership, and a Facebook profile for “Carloyn Naussany” (a misspelling of Carolyn) was created. This account was used in a dispute between a local nail salon and a former employee.

The Facebook profile for “Carloyn Naussany” posted a negative review of the nail salon, alleging a young girl lost fingertips due to carelessness. The review included screenshots from a mother in Las Vegas claiming her daughter’s fingertips were surgically removed after a manicure in Branson. More negative reviews followed under different names, all with similar grammar and punctuation styles.

The salon owners, who had bought the business less than a year before, were bombarded with fake reviews and texts from “Carolyn,” claiming to be a Missouri state investigator. These texts became evidence in legal cases the salon owners brought against the former employee, Rasheed Jeremy Carballo, alleging harassment.

In court filings, salon owner Karen Virtudazo described receiving emails, texts, and phone calls from fake law enforcement and attorneys. She even provided her Social Security number to a fake attorney, leading to credit alerts for loan applications in her name.

Carballo, a recent immigrant from Belize, had befriended Lisa at a local Starbucks. Lisa offered him a room in her home and support after his fallout with the salon owners. Carballo claimed Lisa orchestrated the harassment campaign and promised legal help. He insisted he wasn’t involved in the harassment.

Lisa, who had also been a salon customer, reached out to Virtudazo in September, forwarding an email about an impending lawsuit and investigation into the salon. The email was signed by Carolyn Williams of the non-existent “Investigations Dept” in Jefferson City, Missouri.

In January, Carolyn Williams filed a creditor’s claim against Lisa Marie Presley’s estate, listing Naussany’s address as P.O. Box 514 in Kimberling City, Missouri. This address was also used by Carballo in his court filings, provided by Lisa.

Other connections to the Graceland scam included a fax number used by both Carballo and “Gregory E. Nassauny” in court filings, and a phone number listed on fraudulent documents. Naussany’s other address, P.O. Box 1015 in Hollister, Missouri, was associated with Lisa’s current email address.

Carballo, who lived with Lisa for about five months, recalled her talking about a foreclosure deal involving Lisa Marie Presley’s house. After being interviewed by NBC News, Carballo went to the FBI with his information. The FBI declined to comment on any investigations.

Carballo left Branson in February, moving to Illinois. Meanwhile, Naussany’s attempt at a Graceland foreclosure continued. The Carloyn Naussany Facebook account posted about an Easter Bunny event, with photos later posted by Lisa from her personal account.

Lisa’s live-in partner, Maria Tazbaz, confirmed selling Easter baskets at her hardware store. Tazbaz’s store received a glowing review from “WelderGirl46,” who had also reviewed the nail salon and a car dealership where Lisa bought a car.

Lisa’s ex-husband, Steven Sullins, compared her to the conman in the movie “Catch Me If You Can.” Sullins and Lisa divorced in 2002, and he heard about her arrests for fraud and bad checks. Lisa had various personas, including a doctor, EMT, and underwater welder.

Lisa and Sullins had a son, Steve, who lived with his dad. Steve said Lisa wasn’t a reliable parent but kept in touch. Last summer, Lisa bought him a truck, fulfilling an old promise. She claimed to have a trust from a marriage to a Kurt Howell, a pipeline company owner, but there were no records of him.

Lisa’s first brush with the law was in 1997 for writing a bogus check. Over the next 20 years, she was in and out of jails and courts for various crimes. In 2005, she faced federal charges for using fake Social Security numbers to obtain loans. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 20 months.

After her release, Lisa continued committing crimes, including faking cancer and stealing checks. She moved frequently, scamming lovers she met online. Her parole officer testified about her pattern of defrauding boyfriends, leading to her re-incarceration.

Lisa’s sister, Linda, also had legal troubles, running a fake hedge fund that netted millions. Linda’s crimes were more sophisticated, involving a Ponzi scheme and lavish spending. The FBI indicted her in 2010.

The investigation into the Graceland scam continues, with authorities piecing together the connections between Lisa Holden, her aliases, and the fraudulent Naussany Investments.

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