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Humans have always committed crimes. What can we learn from the criminals and crimes of the past, and have humans gotten better or worse over time?


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Humans have always committed crimes. What can we learn from the criminals and crimes of the past, and have humans gotten better or worse over time?




Les Pétroleuses: 'Savage Hordes of She-Devils'

Join Holly and Maria for a new season of Criminalia, one that's all about arson. In this episode, get introduced to a creature known as the 'pétroleuse', and why according to the rumors around Paris in May of 1871, these 'unruly' female incendiaries were to blame for burning down much of the city. See for privacy information.


Introducing Queen Charlotte: The Official Podcast

Hi, Criminalia fans! Dive into the ultimate love story that sparked the world. Inside Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story The Official Podcast, you’ll hear from celebrated writer Shonda Rhimes, Series Director Tom Verica, and the enchanting cast with exclusive interviews. Listen to Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story The Official Podcast now on the iHeartRadio app or wherever you get your podcasts! About Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story The Official Podcast: Host Gabrielle Collins continues her Bridgerverse deep dive, this time taking on the Shonda Rhimes helmed prequel Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story. Every episode, we’ll explore Shondaland’s official take on the one-of-a-kind story. Binge the series on Netflix and join us for character deep-dives and the creative processes that brought the show to life with Shonda Rhimes, Tom Verica, India Amarteifio, Corey Mylcreest, and more. Listen to new episodes of Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story, The Official Podcast, every Thursday starting May 18. See for privacy information.


Welcome to the Season Finale of Criminalia's 'Confidence Artists'

Welcome to the final episode of our season on grifts and grafts here on Criminalia, where we've been exploring the stories of some of the most notorious swindles and swindlers throughout history. And, of course there were plenty of cocktails and mocktails to go around, too. Listen as Holly and Maria continue their tradition, highlighting their Top 3 shows and favorite drinks of the season. See for privacy information.


Famous Landmarks for 'Sale': For You? Half Price.

The phrase, "There's a sucker born every minute," is attributed to P.T. Barnum, but it could be about this episode: We're talking about con artists who swindled people into buying some really famous landmarks. George C. Parker sold the Brooklyn Bridge. Among Victor Lustig's most audacious scams was when he sold the Eiffel Tower. And a man known as Natwarlal made a name for himself selling the Taj Mahal among other famous landmarks in India. Let's look at what happened when each of these guys dipped a toe into real estate. See for privacy information.


Welcome to Season 10 of Criminalia: THE FIREBUGS

They're called arsonists, torchers, pyromaniacs, and firebugs – and each of their stories is unique, in technique, in damage, and in motivation to set things aflame. Welcome to a new season of Criminalia, where we're talking about arson and the firebugs responsible for igniting illegal blazes throughout history. See for privacy information.


Leo Koretz and the Bayano River Syndicate

Those who considered themselves financially savvy in Chicago in the early 1920s wanted in on one investment: the Bayano River Syndicate. It was an exclusive investment, and centered around oil-rich lands in Panama. And a mild-mannered, balding, and bespectacled lawyer named Leo Koretz was the guy who held the key to investing in it. But Koretz wasn't who he seemed, and neither were his oil fields in Panama. See for privacy information.


Inheritance Cons: Meet the Bakers and the 'Drakers'

In this 2-for-1 inheritance scam special, Holly and Maria talk about William Cameron Morrow Smith and Oscar Hartzell, who, separately, bilked thousands of people out of millions of dollars, just by telling them they might be in line to receive a huge fortune. Spoiler alert on that: There was no fortune. See for privacy information.


There’s Something About Mary -- But It’s Not Royal Blood

There was something about Mary, but despite her claims, it wasn't an inheritance, prestigious titles, peerage, or any aristocratic honors. Mary Carelton became famous-for-being-famous when the paparazzi and media of her day caught wind of a scandal involving her. It wasn't about her penchant for pretending to be a princess -- as it turns out, it was for bigamy. See for privacy information.


How “Dr.” Samuel Bennett Became the 'King of the Thimbles'

You can't talk about confidence artists and their games without talking about one of the classics: the shell game. It's been called a lot of things over the decades, and during the time and place we're going to visit in this episode, it was 'thimblerig'. It's often portrayed as a gambling game, but it's actually a con used to fleece unsuspecting bettors. Samuel Bennett was one of the best-known 'thimbleriggers' – perhaps ever, depending who you ask – and he made a fortune scamming passengers on steamboats along America's waterways in the 19th century. See for privacy information.


The So-Called 'Dr.' Blood and His 'Oxygenized Air' Cure

In January of 1881, the Cincinnati Examiner described Charles Lewis Blood as a "very affable" man, but questioned his right to the title M.D. And the Boston Globe described him as having a, "national reputation for crooked work.” In fact, he did have career in crooked work. "Dr." Blood ran a long con peddling patent medicine he called, oxygenized air -- which was actually nitrous oxide. And it's not the only crime he was involved in during his confidence career. See for privacy information.


The Legend of Jefferson 'Soapy' Smith, Uncrowned King of Skagway

Jefferson 'Soapy' Smith had a different sort of destiny than his siblings, who were doctors and lawyers. Soapy led a dishonest life that included bribery and graft, fraud, theft, and extortion. When he discovered that he could make more money with less effort by being clever, he changed his line of work to running confidence games on gullible westerners, from soaps scams Colorado to fleecing prospectors in Alaska. See for privacy information.


The Miners Who Fooled Millionaires: The Great Diamond Hoax

During the 19th century it seemed like the American West held endless possibilities for great wealth, and Americans were looking for that next big thing. Two Kentucky swindlers, taking advantage of gemstone fever, lured some of the country's biggest bankers and businnessmen -- and the founder of Tiffany & Co. -- into a jewel con with claims of having discovered a large deposit of diamonds. The value of their diamond mine would have exceeded $86 million in today's money. If it had been real. See for privacy information.


Sarah Emily Howe and the Ladies' Deposit Company

Calling herself a financial agent, Sarah Emily Howe introduced the women of the greater Boston area to the Ladies’ Deposit Company, which potentially sounds a lot better than what it really was: a swindle. The Ladies' Deposit was a savings bank that promised women a very high interest rate on deposits – so high, it seemed to impossible. It relied on referrals, and Sarah used the deposits she collected from those new customers to pay the large returns she'd promised to early customers. If that sounds like a Ponzi scheme to you, you're right -- but it happened about 40 years before Ponzi, himself, tried it. See for privacy information.


Reed C. Waddell and the Goldbrick Game

Psst, buddy, want to buy some cheap gold? It may appear to be a gold bar on the surface, but in reality, what's for sale is something far less valuable. American Reed C. Waddell is credited with one of the most celebrated cons among cons – the goldbrick swindle. You'll never find a better deal! See for privacy information.


'Cazique' Gregor MacGregor, the Man Who Fabricated a Country

Poyais: a magical place, and the picture of Caribbean paradise. And according to Scottish swindler Gregor MacGregor, it could all be yours … if you invested in his land, Poyais. In the early 19th century, MacGregor invented his own country, and then conned investors into buying the bonds of a country that did not exist. See for privacy information.


Lord Gordon-Gordon, the Robber of Robber-Barons

Between the years 1869 and 1874, a man calling himself Lord Gordon-Gordon swindled the wealthy populations of Scotland, England, the United States, and Canada. Until he began pulling cons in the late 19th century, though, there isn't much information about this guy. We don't even know what his real name was. But we do know he had endless charm and charisma that helped him bilk people out of millions of dollars, including one of the richest and most ruthless railroad tycoons in American history. See for privacy information.


Ann O'Delia Diss Debar, Spirit Princess and Worst Woman In The World

Ann O'Delia Diss Debar was a medium and a fortune teller who was once described by the famous performer Harry Houdini as, quote, “one of the most extraordinary fake mediums and mystery swindlers the world has ever known.” She made her name -- well, her many names -- as a spiritualist with occult powers, but she was 100 percent fraud. And from 1870 to 1910, she bilked people for millions of dollars around the world. See for privacy information.


Lonely Hearts: 'They're Not Your Honey if They're Asking for Money'

Back in the mid-20th century, a widow named Susanna Mildred Hill began placing newspaper ads posing as a much younger woman looking for love. Once she had fraudulently won the affection of hundreds of pen pals, she asked each for a gift of money -- and she successfully did so for years. Known as the Lonely Hearts Scam, this con continues to be big criminal business. We're going to talk about romance scams, and how to keep yourself safe from falling for it. See for privacy information.


William A. Rockefeller Sr.: The Vagabond Lothario of the Family

Bill Rockefeller Sr. once bragged that he taught his sons about business by swindling them: "I trade with the boys and skin 'em. I want to make 'em sharp.” But the Rockefeller name and money were established not by Bill, but by his eldest son, John D. Rockefeller Sr., who founded the Standard Oil Company in 1870. Bill, himself, had no interest in things like family or work. He liked to roam, and created a career on the road, peddling worthless trinkets and miracle elixirs. This is the story of the thorn in the side of the Rockefeller family. See for privacy information.


'May I Borrow Your Watch?': William Thompson, America's Original Confidence Man

William Thompson certainly was not the first person involved in the con game. We can assume people have been tricking and cheating each other likely since there were people to trick and cheat. We really don’t know a whole lot about William’s life. He just sort of pops up in the historical record when he starts getting noticed around the streets of New York City -- which, as you might imagine, is not good for the con business. He may have been small time, but he was the guy responsible for helping coin the term, confidence man -- or con man. See for privacy information.