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The Perfect Scam - AARP



AARP’s weekly podcast The Perfect Scam profiles America’s biggest scam stories. Hosted by Emmy award winning investigative journalist Michelle Kosinski, and leading fraud expert Frank Abagnale, the series introduces listeners to compelling personal stories from scam victims and their families. Interviews with professional con artists and leading experts in the topic to pull back the curtain on how scammers operate and share tips with listeners on how best to protect themselves.

Hollywood Photographer Lured Overseas in Impostor Scam

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.

A Hiker’s Trail of Lies: Part 2

Jeff spent decades as a couch-surfing con man preying on the outdoors community, but now his lies are finally catching with him.

A Hiker’s Trail of Lies: Part 1

When Melissa met Jeff Cantwell online, the two connected immediately, but thing weren't what they seemed.

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

A Scammer Tells All

We pull back the curtain on call centers and learn about the rise and fall employees who scammed victims daily.

Elaine's Gemstone Jerk

When Elaine makes a connection with a man on a dating site, she believes this could be something really special.

Ann's Credit Card Re-Scam

The scammer claimed to be from her credit card company and was notifying Ann of fraudulent charges.

George & Sandra's Accident Scam

George and Sandra are confronted by a driver who claims they hit his car.

Beth's Russian Hack

Beth receives a phone call and a follow-up message on her computer from a man claiming he's from Dell.

Married and Betrayed

Andrea's husband secretly operated a Ponzi scheme for 15 years.

Tracy's Romance Scam

Tracy was looking for companionship when she made a connection online.

Grace’s Gold and Silver Scam

After her father dies, Grace is in charge of investing her father's lifetime savings.

Alex Goldman's Call Center Scam

A podcast host receives a peculiar phone call from someone claiming to be from Apple and discovers it's a scam.

Martha’s Jury Duty Scam

A woman gets a message from the police saying she's missed jury duty and there's a warrant out for her arrest.

The Grandparent Scam

A grandfather receives a call from someone claiming to be his grandson in jail and needing money for bail.

How to Subscribe and Listen

iPhone or iPad

  1. Open the Apple Podcasts app, search for the show title and select it from the list of results.
  2. Once on the show page, click the "Subscribe" button to have new episodes sent to your phone or tablet for free.
  3. Click the name of an episode from the list below to listen.

Android Phone or Tablet

  1. Open the Google Play Music app, search for the show title and select it from the list of results.
  2. Once on the show page, click the "Subscribe" button to have new episodes sent to your phone or tablet for free.
  3. Click the name of an episode from the list below to listen.

Smart Speakers (Amazon Echo or Google Home)

  1. To play podcasts on your Amazon Echo smart speaker, ask the following: "Alexa, ask TuneIn to play The Perfect Scam podcast" OR "Alexa, play The Perfect Scam podcast on TuneIn"
  2. To play podcasts on your Google Home smart speaker, ask the following: "Hey Google, play The Perfect Scam podcast"

Get Fraud Watch Alerts

Join the Fraud Watch Network for free and learn how to shop and bank safely, create strong passwords, protect yourself from identity theft and scams, use social media risk-free, and more.

Fraud Watch Network

   

   

Host

Michelle Kosinski animated image

Michelle Kosinski is an Emmy® award-winning investigative journalist who recently served as a senior diplomatic correspondent responsible for covering the U.S. State Department, and prior to that, the White House. Full bio

Fraud Expert

Graphic illustration of Frank Abagnale


Frank Abagnale
is a leading fraud expert and AARP Ambassador. Full bio