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9 Must-Listen Podcasts About Scams and Con Artists

Find eye-opening true-crime stories and tips for avoiding fraud

spinner image from left to right fraudsters podcast then the drop out podcast then scam goddess podcast then scam likely podcast
Last Podcast Network / ABC News / Earwolf: A Stitcher Network / The Binge by Sony Podcasts

These days liars and con artists are popular fodder for documentaries, TV shows, blockbuster movies and best-selling books, but they’re a particularly ripe subject for podcasts, which allow for high-level investigative reporting and in-depth storytelling. Here we highlight 10 must-listen podcasts — including AARP’s The Perfect Scam — that feature shocking stories of truly reprehensible criminals, as well as valuable lessons on how you can lower your risk of becoming a fraud victim.

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The Perfect Scam

With more than 130 episodes and counting, AARP’s weekly podcast The Perfect Scam shines a light on the very real schemes that affect millions of Americans every year, host Bob Sullivan focuses on the everyday people who have been victimized, allowing listeners to get to know them as they tell their own stories. Among the most absorbing is a recent two-part story featuring journalist Benita Alexander, who was swept off her feet by a renowned surgeon and was in the midst of planning their lavish wedding when she discovered that he was a complete fraud (episodes 131 and 132).


Have you ever received a phone call from an unknown number marked “Scam Likely” on your caller ID? In the new season of the Campside Media podcast Chameleon: Scam Likely, investigative journalist Yudhijit Bhattacharjee dives deep into the criminal underworld behind one of the biggest call center scams of all time, responsible for stealing more than $300 million from tens of thousands of victims. Follow along as a team of government investigators traces the multinational schemers from suburban Texas to India. If you’re as engrossed as we were, check out previous seasons, including Chameleon: Hollywood Con Queen, about a criminal who stole money from entertainment industry gig workers who paid upfront fees for travel to film and television projects that didn’t exist.

Scam Goddess

Perhaps the most lighthearted entry on this list, the Webby Award–winning podcast Scam Goddess is hosted by actress and comedian Laci Mosley, who’s best known as a cast member on HBO’s A Black Lady Sketch Show. Each episode is dedicated to a historic or contemporary scammer, and Mosley is joined by such hilarious guests as Nailed It! host Nicole Byer, The Bear breakout star Ayo Edebiri and Conan O’Brien (the show is produced by his podcast company). If you become a fan, you can even call yourself a member of the “Con-gregation” — the official name of the show's followers.

The Missing Cryptoqueen

Think the concept of cryptocurrency is a bit confusing? So do we! In 2014, Bulgarian-German fraudster Ruja Ignatova banked on that inscrutability when she founded OneCoin, which she pitched as a bigger, better Bitcoin. Within two years, more than 3 million people had joined, as part of a cultish recruitment program, before Ignatova disappeared without a trace. OneCoin ended up being a pyramid scheme, and the founder was later placed on the FBI’s most wanted list. BBC Sounds host Jamie Bartlett kicked off a hunt for the still-missing criminal, described in his podcast The Missing Cryptoqueen, and turned his reporting into a book of the same name that came out in June.

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Since debuting Scamfluencers in April, hosts Scaachi Koul and Sarah Hagi have explored the intersection between social media and the wild tales of infamous scammers from the worlds of fashion, finance, health, wellness and beyond. Subjects have included the fake Saudi prince, Anthony Gignac; Tom Brady’s “body coach” Alex Guerrero; and even Jen Shah, a member of the cast of The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City who was arrested for federal crimes, including conspiracy to commit money laundering. “I think people like injecting themselves into those stories,” Hagi has said. “It could really happen to anyone, and I think there’s something very captivating about that.”

The Shrink Next Door

The true-crime podcast The Shrink Next Door from Wondery and Bloomberg follows the exploits of unscrupulous psychiatrist Isaac “Ike” Herschkopf, whom host and veteran journalist Joe Nocera met shortly after buying a home in the Hamptons. Following a party at what he thought was Herschkopf’s house next door, he began scratching beneath the surface and found that the therapist had a startling amount of control over Nocera’s real neighbor, his patient Marty Markowitz. Soon, Nocera was unraveling a sordid tale of emotional manipulation and financial exploitation. Apple TV turned the story into a black comedy starring Paul Rudd and Will Ferrell as Herschkopf and Markowitz.

The Dropout

Arguably the most infamous scammer of the past decade, Elizabeth Holmes promised to revolutionize the medical industry with her company Theranos, which claimed to be able to diagnose a myriad of diseases with a drop of blood. The company was valued at $9 billion, and Forbes called her the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire. The only problem? The technology didn’t work. Produced by ABC News and hosted by Rebecca Jarvis, The Dropout includes interviews with investors and former employees, plus snippets of deposition tapes. And it kicked off a frenzy of Holmes content that eventually led to a TV adaptation of the podcast starring Amanda Seyfried, who won an Emmy for the role.

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Hosts Seena Ghaznavi and Justin Williams describe Fraudsters, their more lighthearted take on the theme, as “an all-you-can-eat buffet of liars, cheaters and scammers.” They’ve covered everyone from Rick Singer, the mastermind behind the college admissions scandal, to Rachel Dolezal, the white woman who infamously pretended to be Black, to the big man himself, Charles Ponzi. And you’re in very good hands with this hosting duo: Ghaznavi is a comedian, director and nonpracticing lawyer, and Williams does stand-up comedy while also teaching history at the City College of New York.

Queen of the Con

This iHeartMedia podcast was born when Hollywood producer Johnathan Walton befriended his neighbor, Marianne “Mair” Smyth, who told him she was an Irish heiress and needed money to get out of a dramatic inheritance battle. After Walton gave her nearly $70,000, he began looking into her background and found that Smyth had similarly stolen from dozens of other victims. For Season 2, Walton focuses his attention on Lizzie Mulder, who pretended to be a high-powered CPA in Laguna Beach, California, in order to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from her clients. Her story only began to unravel when she started an affair with a local cowboy. As they say: You can’t make this stuff up.  

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