Tonight, ABC News’ 20/20 will investigate the true story behind the film, Hustlers, zeroing in on the life of Roselyn Keo.
Keo, along with friends Karina Pascucci and Samantha Barbash, conspired against wealthy men and took their money for years. It wasn’t until 2014 that the women were caught.
Which of the film’s characters is based on her life? What is Keo up to today? Read on to find out.
1. Keo Is Played by Constance Wu In “Hustlers”
In 2014, Keo was convicted of drugging men on Wall Street, bringing them into strip clubs, and taking their money. Her scheme, as the movie depicts, was quite effective. According to Refinery 29, Keo would rake in $1,000 on most nights. On evenings where “a certain man from Guggenheim Partners” came in, she was guaranteed t$10,000.
In the film “Hustlers”, Keo is the inspiration for the character of Destiny, played by Constance Wu.
Discussing her life scheming before the film, Keo tells Vulture, “If you have the gift of gab, if you play your cards right and you make somebody fall in love with you, they don’t just want your body. They want to get to know you… [The men were] paying for my time to get to know me, but initially they were trying to make me fall in love with them. One of them spent about five years draining his accounts trying to make me fall in love with him.”
In a separate interview with the New York Post, Keo is quoted as saying, “It sounds so bad to say we were drugging people. But it was, like, normal. What’s an extra $20,000 to them? It wasn’t like we pulled them off the street. They had history. They’d been to Hustler. They walked in ready to party.”
2. She Pretended She Was in Marketing to Pick Up Men
How, exactly, did the scam work? Keo tells ABC News that she would go to lounges, bars, and steakhouses dressed in a blazer and pretend that she just finished a long day at work in order to lure men in. She tells 20/20, “People were like, ‘What kind of work are you in?’ I’m like, ‘I’m in marketing.'”
She adds on, “If you saw a Black American Express, you knew you had a high roller. You’re like, ‘Oh, we have a shark.’ We’re lookin’ for Hublots…Rolexes…Patek Philippes.”
At first, Keo and her fellow hustlers’ acts were perfectly legal. It’s when she and Barbash began hiring prostitutes to perform sexual acts on the men that the game changed. “So, Samantha and I were like, ‘Okay, we need to find girls,'” Keo said. “I became a madam. I saw the connection, I saw the opportunity…and, little by little, you find yourself doing things that sound crazy.”
3. Keo Began Dancing at 17-Years-Old
According to her website, Keo was born and raised about 20 minutes from Manhattan. She attended college at Berkeley in NYC. Her bio reads, “From slinging plates at a local diner to swinging on the poles in the Big Apple, she got into dancing at 17 years old. She eventually learned the art of hustling from a young age and through all her life experiences.”
She goes on to write that behind bars, she learned many important life lessons about resilience, leadership, and family.
A single mother, Keo has said that motherhood is “the most important job she has ever taken on.”
4. Keo Received Probation for Her Acts
Keo tells The Cut that she would keep meticulous notes about the women’s clients. “I treated it like a real business,” she tells the outlet. She adds on, “I could do all the math in my head. Like, if you told me the bill was $40,000, I knew exactly what cut went to what.”
In 2014, Keo, Karina Pascucci, and their fellow hustlers, pulled their scheme on cardiologist Dr. Zyad Younan. The doctor woke up to a charge of $135k on his card and reported the charges as being fraudulent. His report eventually led to the women’s arrests.
Keo received probation, while Karina was sentenced to spend weekends in jail for four months, according to Cosmopolitan.
5. Keo’s Parents Were Cambodian Refugees
In Keo’s interview with The Cut, she explains that her parents were Cambodian refugees who came to America in search of a better life, but “got caught up with the, you know, material crap, and the nice cars, and the nightlife… And just somewhere, they went wrong.”
When she was 17, she dropped out of school and began working a job at a diner.
Keo tells ABC News of her time as a hustler, “I don’t think I was a con woman. I’m a businesswoman. I was just in the wrong business.”
Today, Keo is gearing up for the release of her book, “Roselyn Keo: The Sophisticated Hustler.” You can learn about the book and preorder it here.
“Hustlers” opens in theaters on September 13.