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.
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.