Rank #1: NEW: Barry Minkow Pt. 1: “ZZZZ Best”
We are thrilled to bring you a brand new episode of Con Artists today and for the foreseeable future. We thank you for your patience during this unprecedented time.
In the 1980s, 16-year-old Barry Minkow established himself as a boy-genius after opening a chain of successful carpet cleaning stores in California. However, unbeknownst to his family and the journalists who covered him, Barry was running a ponzi scheme.
Apr 22 2020
Rank #2: Stephen Glass Pt. 1: The Devil’s Bargain
In the 1990's, young writer Stephen Glass left college and entered the journalism world, quickly becoming a rising star. At the New Republic magazine in Washington D.C., Stephen dazzled his editors and captured his readers with compelling pieces written in specific, colorful detail, but it was all false.
Parcasters - Thank you so much for listening to our new show!
Aug 07 2019
Rank #3: Barry Minkow Pt. 2: “ZZZZ Best”
In the 1990s, California native Barry Minkow was finally released from jail. Determined to prove his redemption to the world, the ex-con became a born-again Christian and even got a job as a local pastor. However, it wasn’t long before the new version of Barry went back to his old tricks.
Apr 29 2020
Rank #4: Frank Abagnale Pt. 1: “Catch Me If You Can”
In only five years, Frank Abagnale Jr. managed to cause a major stir in the criminal world. After running away from home at 16, Frank survived on forged checks until he created a new identity for himself as a Pan Am pilot.
Mar 04 2020
Rank #5: Debby Montgomery Johnson Pt. 1: “The Woman Behind the Smile”
After the death of her husband, Debby Montgomery Johnson joined an online dating site in hopes of finding love again. What she found was an online relationship with a companion fulfilled her every need, but at what cost?
Nov 27 2019
Rank #6: Gregor MacGregor Pt. 1: “Poyais”
In the early 19th century, Gregor MacGregor's family name had been disgraced. But the young Scot was determined to put his clan back on the map. Following his meteoric rise and fall in the military, Gregor’s desperation for glory led him to pull his first unintentional con.
Apr 08 2020
Rank #7: Charles Sobhraj Pt. 1: “The Bikini Killer”
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Charles Sobhraj was one of the most elusive con artists in the world. Though his cons were elaborate, he knew he would be able to prey on unsuspecting Western tourists traveling along the “Hippie Trail,” the road between Istanbul and Bangkok.
Feb 05 2020
Rank #8: Charles Ponzi Pt. 1: “The Father of Fraud”
Italian immigrant Carlo Ponzi came to Boston in the early 1900's intent on making a name for himself. But as he struggled to make ends meet, he discovered a highly lucrative investment method involving the resale of Italian postage. Just one catch—there was no investment plan.
Nov 13 2019
Rank #9: Oscar Hartzell Pt. 1: “The Drake Fortune”
After starting a string of failing businesses in the early 1900s, American Oscar Hartzell found himself looking for his next path to wealth. He found it when he heard about Sir Frances Drake, and his alleged inheritance. Soon Hartzell began to use tale's of Drake's fortune to make a fortune of his own.
Mar 18 2020
Rank #10: George Graham Rice Pt. 1
A master swindler who operated in the early 1900s, George Graham Rice was a con artist before America even knew the term. He went from amateur forger as a teenager to full-blown criminal in only a few short years, even stealing from his father’s fur business to finance his gambling habit.
Jan 08 2020
Rank #11: Frank Abagnale Pt. 2: “Catch Me If You Can”
In a span of five years, Frank Abagnale Jr. took on various identities: airline pilot, pediatrician, lawyer. He had perfected the art of counterfeiting… until eventually, the law caught up with him.
Mar 11 2020
Rank #12: Gregor MacGregor Pt. 2: “Poyais”
When a string of military failures under Gregor's leadership led to his exile from South America in 1820, the Scotsman returned to Europe a disgrace. But soon his desire for fame and fortune led him to create his most famous, and devious, con yet—the Poyais scheme.
Apr 15 2020
Rank #13: Madame Rachel Pt. 1: “The Beauty of Lies”
In 1860s Victorian London, a woman from humble beginnings cons her way into the world of high society—selling exorbitantly priced bogus cosmetics to the very women she aims to befriend.
Oct 30 2019
Rank #14: Anna Anderson Pt. 1: The False Anastasia
Franziska Schanzkowsky always thought she was destined for something bigger than the life of a Polish peasant. In 1921, after the fall of the Romanov Empire, 24-year-old Franziska claimed she was the Grand Duchess Anastasia, the youngest daughter of deposed Tsar Nicholas II. But to maintain the lie, Franziska would have to surrender more of herself than she ever realized...including her sanity.
Parcasters - This week on Crimes of Passion we take on the infamous case of Lorena and John Bobbitt! You won’t want to miss this one! Listen today on Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.
Aug 21 2019
Rank #15: Jordan Belfort Pt. 1: The Wolf of Wall Street
On Jordan Belfort’s first day as a Wall Street Stockbroker, in October 1987, the market crashed over 500 points. A month later, he was out of a job. Down, out, and completely broke, the soon to be Wolf of Wall Street reinvented himself as a penny stockbroker, and devised a scam so simple – so ingenious – he was soon earning almost $1 million a week.
Sep 04 2019
Rank #16: William Chaloner Pt. 1: “The Counterfeit Trickster”
Born into poverty in 17th century England, William Chaloner pulled himself out using a con artist’s tongue and his artistry as a forger. Chaloner chose his nefarious path at a time and place when the deteriorating state of England’s currency made counterfeiting widespread and lucrative—although the penalty was death by hanging.
Feb 19 2020
Rank #17: Victor Lustig Pt. 1
He cut his teeth swindling victims through a series of card game tricks. Soon Victor Lustig would move onto more elaborate, skilled schemes in which he would systematically earn his mark's trust for weeks before taking off with thousands of dollars. But it was in Paris where Lustig pulled his biggest con—selling the Eiffel Tower—twice.
Jan 22 2020
Rank #18: Stephen Glass Pt. 2: “Hack Heaven”
In May of 1998, rock-star journalist Stephen Glass tried to break into the burgeoning field of reporting: digital technology. He wrote an article that impressed his colleagues, his editor, and the general public. Unfortunately, not a word of it was true.
Parcasters - Thank you so much for listening to our new podcast!
Aug 14 2019
Rank #19: Charles Ponzi Pt. 2: “The Father of Fraud”
Within 16 years of coming to America, Italian immigrant Carlo Ponzi would build a financial empire based on a massive scam. But by 1920, Ponzi would be exposed as a fraud, but unwilling to go away quietly.
Nov 20 2019
Rank #20: Debby Montgomery Johnson Pt. 2: “The Woman Behind the Smile”
In 2012, after borrowing nearly $100,000 from her parents to loan to her online boyfriend, Debby Montgomery Johnson was growing worried about the relationship's financial burden. She'd soon find the man she had been dating for nearly 2 years had a secret of his own.
Dec 04 2019