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AARP’s weekly podcast The Perfect ScamSM tells the stories of people who find themselves the target of a scam. Host Bob Sullivan introduces listeners to those who have experienced scams firsthand, as well as professional con artists and leading experts who pull back the curtain on how scammers operate. 

The Perfect ScamSM is a project of the AARP Fraud Watch Network, which equips consumers like you with the knowledge to give you power over scams.

How a Dream Vacation House Evaporated

Melany Robinson loses almost $20k in an elaborate vacation rental scam

Mother Goes Missing in Gift Card Payment Scam

Scammers convince Judy she needs to send $15k in gift cards to avoid arrest

Scammer Recruits Grandmother to Launder Money

The scheme started with a simple request on an online dating website

Hacker Uses Skills to Take Down a Phone Scam Operation

'Jim Browning' fights to save potential victims from cyber schemes

FCC and TripAdvisor Take Down the Robocall King

Adrian Abramovich sent millions of automated phone calls to U.S. consumers

Police Chief Uses His Influence to Hide a Crime

In part 2 of this podcast, investigators discover the truth behind the Kealoha's finances

Couple Masterminds a Reverse Mortgage Scheme

Louis and Katherine Kealoha used the stolen money to fund their lavish lifestyle

Frank Abagnale Answer's Top Scam Questions

Our fraud expert shares his insight on gift card scams, WhatsApp and more

Life Insurance Scammers Take Advantage of Widow

Fraudsters instruct the victim to use gift cards as payment for the policy

Two Scammers Target a Woman Online

In part 2 of this episode, the victim's family fights to pull her from their grasps

How a Family Battled Their Mother's Phony Online Relationships

In part 1 of this episode, a daughter fights to free her mother from multiple romance scams

How an Email Could Cost You Your Home in a Mortgage Scam

Experts share how these frauds work and how to protect yourself

Credit Card Con Queen Targets Wealthy Older Adults

Lisa Reid went on lavish shopping sprees and left her victims footing the bill

Pet Scams are Big Business for Fraudsters

Online con artists see opportunity in the pandemic demand for animals

California Man Almost Loses His Stepmother in Guardianship Dispute

Larry Davis shares how a court-appointed guardian landed his stepmother in an assisted living facility

Reality TV Producer Discovers The Truth About Mair Smyth

Johnathan Walton finds out his best friend has been telling lies and has no inheritance

Serial Con Artist Poses as Royalty

Mair Smyth claimed she was an Irish Heiress and scammed people out of thousands

You’ve Got More Mail, With Frank Abagnale

AARP's fraud expert answers your questions about popular scams

Monique Brady's Friends Learn of Ponzi Scheme

In part 2 of this podcast, the Savastanos find out the real estate business is a scam

Scammer Targets Friends in Real Estate Ponzi Scheme

In part 1 of this podcast, Monique Brady's victims share their experience working with her

Patient Exposes Her Therapist as a Conman

In part 2 of this episode, after "Dr. Redman" is revealed as a fraud, he assumes a new identity

Serial Con Artist Impersonates Psychiatrist

Scott C. Redman used the identity of an Illinois physician to see patients and prescribe medications

Wife Discovers Husband Secretly Operating a Ponzi Scheme

For 15 years, he stole millions of dollars from investors, eventually confessing to his crimes

Scammer Targets Victim of Equifax Data Breach

Marni took extra steps to protect her credit, but crooks found a way to open new accounts in her name

Clients of the “Money Doctor” Were Shocked When They Learned of Stolen Money

Members of William Gallagher's Dallas community were deceived by his promises

'The Money Doctor' Stole Millions in a Ponzi Scheme

A radio host gave financial advice to listeners and used his power to steal from investors

French Psychic Scam Rakes in Millions

A letter arrives in the mail from a woman claiming to have psychic abilities - but there's a catch

A Hiker’s Trail of Lies

Couch-surfing con man Jeff Caldwell preys on the kindness of the outdoors community.

Divorcee Exposes Fraudster in Online Romance Scam

In part two of this podcast, meet Patricia who suspects her online boyfriend is a scammer

Long-Distance Relationship is Actually a Romance Scam

A woman thinks she’s in love until her new online boyfriend reveals he’s a con-artist

Rachel Tobac Hacks ‘The Perfect Scam’

A social engineering hacker scours our host Michelle Kosiniski’s social media for intel a hacker could use

Hollywood Freelancers Team Up to Take Down a Scammer

In part 2 of this podcast, two photographers realize they are victims of a scam targeting industry professionals

Celebrity Photographer Lured Overseas in Impostor Scam

In part 1 of this podcast, Joe Scarnici recounts how he was targeted and lost thousands

Scammers Persuade Grandfather to Send Ransom by Mail

Jack sends $19,000 to an attorney thinking he's getting his granddaughter out of jail

Felony Lane Gang Steals Purses & Identities

A stolen purse case leads to a nationwide financial fraud crime ring

Scammers Set Up Fake Coronavirus Testing Site

An essential worker shares the story of her encounter with fraudsters at a pop-up testing location

Utah Couple Loses Savings in an Impostor Scam

Crooks pretended to be government officials, left threatening voicemails in this elaborate con

Phishing Scam Targets Shark Tank Investor

Barbara Corcoran explains how an elaborate email scheme almost cost her $400,000

Recognizing the Red Flags in an Online Romance

In part 2 of this episode, one grandmother learns of her role in a larger fraud scheme

Scammer Recruits Grandmother to Launder Money

The scheme started with a simple request on an online dating website

FBI Officials Discuss Virtual Kidnappings

In part two of this episode, tips on how to handle a threatening call

Scammers Use Scare Tactics in Virtual-Kidnapping Scheme

One mom was asked to pay for her daughter's "alleged" release

You’ve Got Mail, With Frank Abagnale, Part 2

In part two of this special episode, Frank answers questions from listeners on fraud

Debt Relief Agency Scams Homeowners

Johnathan Herbert took advantage of people seeking mortgage assistance

'Ethical Hacker' Helps Top Companies Tackle Fraud

Jason Glasberg exposes internet security threats for Fortune 500 companies

Consumers Tricked into Buying Software in a Tech Support Scam

The operation targeted thousands of people across the world

Beware of the Boardwalk Psychic Scam

A psychic reading with a fortune teller in Atlantic City leaves one woman nearly broke

Vermont Authorities Investigate Mac Parker's Movie Deal

In part two of this podcast, we meet Parker's partner in the investment fraud

Mac Parker's Million-Dollar Ponzi Scheme

In part one of this episode, we meet investors deceived by Parker's promises of a lucrative movie deal

Grandparents Deceived by Scammers Demanding Cash

'Grandchild in jail' scheme and similar scams cost Americans millions in 2018

Widower Loses Life Savings in a Romance Scam

He opened his heart and checkbook, losing several million to a con artist

Holiday Special: The 1920s Santa Claus Scam

Colorful conman John Duval Gluck and the Santa Claus Association

True or False With Frank Abagnale

A bonus podcast episode featuring one of AARP's fraud experts

Threats From Home: The Chinese Consulate Scam

Victims lose millions in phone scams that target the Chinese American community

FBI Agent Brings 'Lottery Kingpin' to Justice

How lottery scammers convinced one victim to send thousands of dollars overseas

Kentucky Officials Battles Lottery Scammers

One woman loses thousands to promises of a million-dollar lottery prize

Private Investigator Helps Take Down a Psychic Scam Operation

In part two of this episode, the investigation reveals another victim with total losses in the thousands

New York Psychic Drains One Woman's Bank Account

Sylvia Mitchell preyed on victim’s misfortunes for profit

Distraught Veteran Loses Savings in a Social Security Scam

How one community helped a former service member overcome identity theft

Stolen Photo Misused in Online Dating Scam

Multiple fake social media profiles were used to con women

Robocalls Tricked Consumers into Buying Vacation Packages

Spammers used popular hotel companies names' to sell phony travel deals

FCC and TripAdvisor Take Down the Robocall King

Adrian Abramovich sent millions of automated phone calls to U.S. consumers

A Foreign Lottery Scam Turns Into a Murder Plot

In part 2 of this case, the scammer’s demands intensify as authorities continue their investigation

Retiree Drains Her Bank Account in a Lottery Scam

Investigators work to find the criminals and discover another scam operation

Married Couple Swindles Victims in a Romance Scam

In part 2 of the Boltos case, Texas officials track the criminals to Nevada

The 'Sweetheart Swindler' Preyed on Elderly Victims

Desiree Boltos fabricated stories and used her children as pawns in her romance scams

How Investigators Convicted a Charity Fraud Scammer

In part 3 of this podcast, officials use fingerprints to connect John Donald Cody to his crimes

Using Fake Identities, ‘Bobby Thompson’ Evaded Capture

In part 2 of this case, the manhunt for a charity scammer takes investigators to Portland

John Donald Cody, Stole Millions in a Veterans Charity Scam

Using a fake identity ‘Bobby Thompson’ donated to political campaigns instead of helping vets

Federal Officials Arrest Darren Berg for Wire Fraud and More

In part 2 of this case, Berg, forced to pay restitution to victims, plans a daring escape

Darren Berg Organized the Largest Ponzi Scheme in Washington History

How retirees lost their life savings in an investment scam

Investigators Discover the Truth Behind Dr. Fata's Medical Practice

In part 3 of this case, as the FBI closes in, the severity of patient abuse becomes clear

Whistleblowers Risk Their Careers to Expose Medicare Fraud

In part 2 of this case, concerned employees dig deeper into Fata's phony treatments

Meet the Doctor Who Defrauded Medicare of Millions

Dr. Farid Fata falsely treated patients for cancer and submitted bogus health care claims

Prince Charming Behind Bars: Part 2

As the scammer's tactics intensified, see how investigators took him down

Prince Charming Behind Bars: Part 1

An Illinois woman’s life is changed forever when she falls victim to a romance scam online.

You’ve Got Mail, With Frank Abagnale

On this special episode, Frank breaks down all the ways fraudsters try to scam you through voicemail and email.

Love Online Leads to International Lockup

When Joy asked Bryon to deliver real estate papers, he had no idea he was being used in an elaborate plot to smuggle drugs.

Inside the IRS Phone Scam Bust

Every year Americans get fraudulent calls from con artists claiming to be from the IRS. We uncover how these call centers work.

Godfather of the Dark Web

Hear from the creator of the dark web's first online store for criminals, and how he's helping people today.

Brooke Astor: Famous Socialite Robbed

Uncover one of the most prominent cases of financial elder abuse in U.S. history.

MSNBC's Richard Lui Fights for His Dad

The Luis' story is about more than being scammed, it's about a family's dedication.

French Psychic Scams the World: Part 2

Can investigators find out who the mysterious psychic Maria Duval is?

French Psychic Scams the World: Part 1

A letter arrives in the mail from a woman claiming to have psychic abilities - but there's a catch.

Scammers Drained the Life out of Our Mother: Part 2

With the stress of a sweepstakes scam damaging Valerie’s health, her daughters take drastic measures.

Scammers Drained the Life out of Our Mother: Part 1

Valerie receives a letter stating she’s won the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes, but everything is not what it seems.

BONUS EPISODE — Take 'The Perfect Scam’ Quiz!

The producers of the podcast show off their fraud-busting skills in a pop quiz

Frank's Favorite Scams & Tips from Fraud Watch Network

Frank discusses his favorite scams and Will speaks with two AARP Fraud Watch Network experts

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About the Fraud Watch Network

Whether you have been personally affected by scams or fraud or are interested in learning more, the AARP Fraud Watch Network advocates on your behalf and equips you with the knowledge you need to feel more informed and confidently spot and avoid scams.

   

   

     

Fraud Expert

Graphic illustration of Bob Sullivan



Bob Sullivan is an independent journalist and the author of five books, including New York Times Best Sellers, Gotcha Capitalism and Stop Getting Ripped Off! He spent nearly two decades working at MSNBC.com and NBC News, where he created and wrote the popular Red Tape Chronicles blog, covering cybercrime, privacy, and other consumer issues. He has won a Peabody Award, a Society of Professional Journalists Public Service Award, and a Consumer Federation of America Consumer Media Service Award. He was the host of Breach, a podcast about history's biggest hacks, and So, Bob? a podcast about the unintended consequences of technology. He now writes The Red Tape Chronicles column at RedTape.Substack.com and can be reached at BobSullivan.net