Seven well timed podcasts present artwork of the rip-off

Scammers, grifters and con artists are at all times in season. However the summer season of 2018 was memorably dubbed the “Summer season of Rip-off,” following the discharge of a number of high-profile tales. First got here John Carreyrou’s explosive nonfiction ebook “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 faux heiress Anna Delvey (quickly to be the topic of a Shonda Rhimes-produced Netflix collection). Fraud bled into the winter with the discharge of two documentaries concerning the misbegotten Fyre Competition 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 rip-off tales chances are you’ll already know from the headlines, Theranos included, and in addition illuminate some much less acquainted, just like the extraordinary saga of how hundreds of individuals had been conned into blowing their life financial savings on a plot of nugatory land in California.

“Chameleon: Hollywood Con Queen”

Los Angeles is full of starry-eyed strivers determined for his or her shot on the Hollywood dream and prepared to strive absolutely anything to get it, so it’s no shock that cults, cons and pyramid schemes additionally thrive within the metropolis. However even by the requirements of Tinseltown, this saga is a wild experience. Starting in 2015, a mysterious determine recognized solely because the Con Queen of Hollywood bamboozled unsuspecting victims into accepting faux jobs on far-flung film units by impersonating high-profile feminine executives and producers equivalent to Amy Pascal and Kathleen Kennedy. As journalists Josh Dean and Vanessa Grigoriadis unpack the story all through this 10-part collection, it turns into clear that this isn’t a easy monetary fraud, however a darker and extra twisted energy recreation 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 growth have seen loads 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 following 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 know-how 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 employees, however a collection 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 individuals would most likely give the proper 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 town’s unusual origin story, starting within the 1950s when a person named Nat Mendelsohn had a imaginative and prescient for a booming desert metropolis. He bought tens of hundreds of individuals 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 individuals, lots of them immigrants with goals of their very own. What begins as a narrative a couple of kooky urban-development challenge turns into a haunting saga about fraud, exploitation and the poisonous delusion of the American dream. Starter episode: “Turning Desert Mud Into Gold”

“The Dream”

Pyramid schemes are alive and properly within the 21st century, however they’ve advanced with the instances and now largely function below euphemistic names equivalent to “multilevel advertising and marketing,” or MLM. Victims are lured in with the promise of getting wealthy from the consolation of their very own houses by promoting issues like magnificence merchandise however typically find yourself in crushing debt due to 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 individuals — disproportionately feminine and infrequently low-income — by promoting them on entrepreneurship and “being their very own boss.” Extra just lately, the present’s second season explored a less-concise however nonetheless compelling premise: Is the wellness business a rip-off? Starter episode: “Wanna Swim in Money?”

“Rip-off Goddess”

In the event you’re not within the temper for a deep-dive collection, however need to sustain on all that’s scammy, look no additional than comic Laci Mosley’s wildly entertaining weekly present. Mosley, a self-proclaimed scammer in her personal proper (therefore the title), takes palpable glee in breaking down the small print of grand deceptions, alongside a rotating visitor forged of fellow comedians. An everyday “Historic Hoodwink” section focuses on well-known circumstances, however Mosley & Co. additionally commit loads of time to small-time scams and novice 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 artwork heist somewhat than a conventional rip-off, this co-production between WBUR and The Boston Globe presents an enchanting glimpse into the interior workings of a seemingly unattainable crime. In 1990, contained in the house of two hours, 13 items of artwork 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 many years 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 via a juicy, baffling, stranger-than-fiction story. Starter episode: “81 Minutes”

“The Shrink Subsequent Door”

The Wondery community has launched quite a lot of podcasts concerning 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” could appear to be comparatively gentle fare, particularly now {that a} display adaptation starring Paul Rudd and Will Ferrell is within the works, however beneath the wacky premise lurks unsettling truths concerning the potential for abuse and manipulation in psychotherapy. Within the collection, Joe Nocera, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, unpacks the story of his neighbor within the Hamptons, Isaac Herschkopf, a psychiatrist whose relationship with one among 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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