Scammers, grifters and con artists are all the time in season. However the summer season of 2018 was memorably dubbed the “Summer time of Scam,” following the launch of a number of high-profile tales. First got here John Carreyrou’s explosive nonfiction e book “Unhealthy Blood,” which chronicled the rise and fall of Elizabeth Holmes and her fraudulent biotech firm Theranos, adopted swiftly by Jessica Pressler’s New York journal exposé about pretend heiress Anna Delvey (quickly to be the topic of a Shonda Rhimes-produced Netflix sequence). Fraud bled into the winter with the launch of two documentaries about the misbegotten Fyre Pageant and its impresario, Billy McFarland. Our nationwide urge for food for tales about deception doesn’t appear to have abated, and there’s a glut of nonfiction audio journalism to fulfill that craving.

These seven podcasts delve deeper into scam tales chances are you’ll already know from the headlines, Theranos included, and likewise illuminate some much less acquainted, like the extraordinary saga of how hundreds of folks had been conned into blowing their life financial savings on a plot of nugatory land in California.

“Chameleon: Hollywood Con Queen”

Los Angeles is filled with starry-eyed strivers determined for his or her shot at the Hollywood dream and keen to attempt absolutely anything to get it, so it’s no shock that cults, cons and pyramid schemes additionally thrive in the metropolis. However even by the requirements of Tinseltown, this saga is a wild journey. Starting in 2015, a mysterious determine recognized solely as the Con Queen of Hollywood bamboozled unsuspecting victims into accepting pretend jobs on far-flung film units by impersonating high-profile feminine executives and producers akin to Amy Pascal and Kathleen Kennedy. As journalists Josh Dean and Vanessa Grigoriadis unpack the story all through this 10-part sequence, it turns into clear that this isn’t a easy monetary fraud, however a darker and extra twisted energy sport that preys on the vulnerability of Hollywood hopefuls. Starter episode: “Chapter 1: The Hook”

“The Dropout”

The final a number of years of the Silicon Valley tech increase have seen lots of high-profile startups explode, then implode, from MoviePass to WeWork. However none comes near the story of Elizabeth Holmes, as soon as heralded as “the subsequent Steve Jobs,” whose biotech firm Theranos promised to revolutionize drugs by making blood attracts simpler, much less painful and extra accessible. There was only one drawback — the expertise was bogus. “The Dropout,” from ABC Information, explores Holmes’ background, the canny and calculated methods she selected to current herself, and the way she and her then-boyfriend, Ramesh Balwani, appeared to hoodwink not solely their very own workers, however a sequence of specialists and gatekeepers who ought to have recognized higher. Subsequent month, the federal authorities’s case in opposition to Holmes and Balwani lastly goes to trial. Starter episode: “Fantasy-Making”

“California Metropolis”

If requested to call the third-largest metropolis (by space) in California, after Los Angeles and San Diego, few folks would most likely give the appropriate reply: California Metropolis. That’s as a result of most individuals have most likely by no means heard of this Mojave Desert city, which is sprawling and eerily empty, with fewer than 7,000 residents. On this podcast, journalist Emily Guerin traces the metropolis’s unusual origin story, starting in the Fifties when a person named Nat Mendelsohn had a imaginative and prescient for a booming desert metropolis. He bought tens of hundreds of folks on this plan, who purchased land in California Metropolis believing that it was a golden alternative. However this isn’t merely a historical past lesson — 60 years on, that land was nonetheless being bought to unsuspecting folks, many of them immigrants with desires of their very own. What begins as a narrative a few kooky urban-development mission turns into a haunting saga about fraud, exploitation and the poisonous fable of the American dream. Starter episode: “Turning Desert Mud Into Gold”

“The Dream”

Pyramid schemes are alive and nicely in the twenty first century, however they’ve advanced with the instances and now largely function below euphemistic names akin to “multilevel advertising,” or MLM. Victims are lured in with the promise of getting wealthy from the consolation of their very own properties by promoting issues like magnificence merchandise however usually find yourself in crushing debt because of the schemes’ predatory construction. The fascinating and horrifying first season of “The Dream” dives headfirst into the historical past and present panorama of MLMs, specializing in the methods these schemes reel in susceptible folks — disproportionately feminine and sometimes low-income — by promoting them on entrepreneurship and “being their very own boss.” Extra not too long ago, the show’s second season explored a less-concise however nonetheless compelling premise: Is the wellness business a scam? Starter episode: “Wanna Swim in Money?”

“Scam Goddess”

For those who’re not in the temper for a deep-dive sequence, however wish to sustain on all that’s scammy, look no additional than comic Laci Mosley’s wildly entertaining weekly show. Mosley, a self-proclaimed scammer in her personal proper (therefore the title), takes palpable glee in breaking down the particulars of grand deceptions, alongside a rotating visitor solid of fellow comedians. A daily “Historic Hoodwink” section focuses on well-known circumstances, however Mosley & Co. additionally dedicate lots of time to small-time scams and newbie frauds, strolling a tonal tightrope that usually includes empathy and derision for his or her topics. The result’s shocking, hilarious and sometimes cathartic. Starter episode: “The Hilaria Hoax with Ira Madison III, Oscar Montoya and Siobhan Thompson”

“Final Seen”

Although technically about an art heist fairly than a standard scam, this co-production between WBUR and The Boston Globe presents an enchanting glimpse into the internal workings of a seemingly unattainable crime. In 1990, inside the area of two hours, 13 items of art had been stolen from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, together with items by Johannes Vermeer and Rembrandt. The scope of the theft is extraordinary, however what’s much more bewildering is that three a long time later, the crime has nonetheless not been solved. Although inevitably irritating to hearken to at instances, “Final Seen” can be excellent binge materials, with host Kelly Horan’s hypnotic narration guiding listeners by means of a juicy, baffling, stranger-than-fiction story. Starter episode: “81 Minutes”

“The Shrink Subsequent Door”

The Wondery community has launched a quantity of podcasts about the lives of vicious liars — an abusive con artist in “Soiled John,” a horrifyingly unhinged spinal surgeon in “Dr. Dying” and a infamous monster in “The Mysterious Mr. Epstein.” “The Shrink Subsequent Door” might appear to be comparatively mild fare, particularly now {that a} display adaptation starring Paul Rudd and Will Ferrell is in the works, however beneath the wacky premise lurks unsettling truths about the potential for abuse and manipulation in psychotherapy. In the sequence, Joe Nocera, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, unpacks the story of his neighbor in the Hamptons, Isaac Herschkopf, a psychiatrist whose relationship with one of his sufferers goes off the rails in methods you’ll by no means see coming. Starter episode: “Welcome to the Neighborhood”

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