The Scam Artist Who Robbed Backstreet Boys and NSYNC Blind. 'Some of the Guys Couldn't Pay Their Car Payment.'

In the 1990s, Lou Pearlman made millions creating the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC. It was all a giant Ponzi scheme.

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By Entrepreneur Staff

If you were a teen in the late 1990s to early 2000s, you could not escape the pull of the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC.

The boy bands were a cultural phenomenon, influencing fashion and music trends and shaping the sound of pop music for a generation. Backstreet Boys sold 130 million records worldwide, making them one of the best-selling boy bands of all time, while NSYNC followed closely behind with 70 million records sold.

The man behind the bands was a larger-than-life character named Lou Pearlman — literally, he was said to weigh around 330 pounds.

Initially a blimp salesman (we kid you not), Pearlman became one of the most successful talent managers and record producers of all time, casting and training the biggest boy bands in the world.

Photo by Mark Weiss/WireImage

Pearlman was said to have a net worth of over $300 million at the height of his success — until it all came crashing down like the Hindenburg. Pearlman died penniless in prison in 2016.

Related: These Scammers, Con Artists, and Barely-Legal Lowlifes Will Stop at Nothing To Bilk Their Marks of Millions

On the latest episode of Entrepreneur's new podcast, Dirty Money, editors Dan Bova and Jon Small tell the lurid tale of the Boy Band Bandit. How did Pearlman become so successful, and where did he go so wrong?

They're joined by Lou Pearlman expert Tyler Gray, who has written the definitive book on Pearlman called The Hit Charade: Lou Pearlman, Boy Bands, and the Biggest Ponzi Scheme in U.S. History

Listen to the podcast here or subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts.

Entrepreneur Staff

Entrepreneur Staff


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