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You’ve Got Mail, With Frank Abagnale

10/12/2018
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On this special episode of The Perfect Scam, Frank breaks down all the ways fraudsters try to scam you through voicemail and email by claiming to be everything from IRS agents to bank officials. Frank gives the skinny on each scam, who’s behind them, and what you should and shouldn’t do if you get a scam message. Plus, the show producers share their own voicemails from scammers.

Duration:00:17:12

Love Online Leads to International Lockup

10/5/2018
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Bryon, a retired pastor, thought he’d met his dream girl online. For five years he conversed over the internet with Joy, who claimed to live in London. So when Joy asked Bryon to transport real estate papers, he had no idea he was being used in an elaborate plot to smuggle drugs. Bryon is one of hundreds of Americans over the age of 60 who were conned into unwittingly serving as drug mules in what the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging calls one of the worst scams it has uncovered.

Duration:00:26:47

Inside the IRS Phone Scam Bust

9/28/2018
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Every year thousands of Americans get fraudulent calls from con artists claiming to be from the IRS. Working from call centers around the world, these fraudsters pressure targets with threats of jail, liens and garnished wages to scam them out of money. We uncover how these call centers work and speak to a 19-year-old who helped the FTC shut down one of the largest.

Duration:00:23:20

A Hiker’s Trail of Lies: Part 2

9/21/2018
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Jeff has lived for decades as a couch-surfing con man preying on the kindness of the outdoors community. He spins tales of hikes he’s never completed and exploits the sympathy of his marks with sad stories of his past to rip them off. Now Jeff’s lies are finally catching up with him. After stealing a car and credit cards, the con man has turned fugitive with the police hot on his trail.

Duration:00:23:44

A Hiker’s Trail of Lies: Part 1

9/14/2018
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When Melissa met Jeff Cantwell online, the two connected immediately. He was friendly, well spoken and shared her love of the outdoors. Jeff told Melissa stories of the daunting hikes he’d completed and shared the tragic loss of his family in a car accident. But these were just stories: In reality, Jeff “Cantwell” was Jeff Caldwell, a con man who’d spent decades ripping off members of the close-knit outdoor community.

Duration:00:25:58

The Godfather of the Dark Web

9/7/2018
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Deep within the internet is the dark web, a space where criminals can anonymously buy and sell illegal goods and private information. Known as the “original internet godfather,” Brett Johnson created one of the dark web’s first online stores where criminals bought stolen credit cards, Social Security numbers, drugs and guns. After serving seven years in prison, Brett turned his back on criminal enterprise and became a consultant for the Secret Service. Brett walks us through how he became...

Duration:00:29:23

Brooke Astor: Famous Socialite Robbed

8/31/2018
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A prominent philanthropist and the epicenter of the New York society scene, Brooke Astor lived a tumultuous but glamourous life. Left a fortune by her third husband, Vincent Astor, Brooke planned to live out her later years at her country estate. But when Brooke’s son refuses to let her do so, then sells his mother’s favorite painting (worth over $30 million), grandson Philip decides to step in. Philip’s efforts to return his grandmother to the country home she loved would uncover one of...

Duration:00:25:31

MSNBC’s Richard Lui Fights for His Dad

8/24/2018
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MSNBC anchor Richard Lui commutes from New York to San Francisco to help care for his father. Stephen Lui, who spent his career as a pastor and social worker, is now retired and suffers from dementia. After Stephen responds to mail from scammers, they begin bombarding him with hundreds of calls asking for money for fake charities and lotteries. But the Luis’ story is about more than being scammed, it’s about Richard and his family’s dedication to caring for Stephen.

Duration:00:27:21

French Psychic Scams the World: Part 2

8/17/2018
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CNN journalists Melanie Hickens and Blake Ellis have spent years investigating psychic Maria Duval. Letters in her name were sent to millions around the globe promising psychic protection in exchange for money. In 2016, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service permanently shut down the fraud scheme in the United States, but investigators have yet to find Maria, leaving Melanie and Blake to wonder whether she even exists.

Duration:00:24:40

French Psychic Scams the World: Part 1

8/10/2018
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A letter arrives in the mail from a woman claiming to have psychic abilities. She warns you of danger but promises good fortune — if you send her money. This is the setup for one of the longest-running scams in U.S. history. These predatory letters were sent to millions of Americans and raked in over $200 million. At the center of it all is the elusive French psychic Maria Duval. Who is Maria Duval, and is she really the mastermind of this fraud scheme? Or has she unknowingly lent a face...

Duration:00:25:25

Scammers Drained the Life out of Our Mother: Part 2

8/3/2018
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Valerie, a 90-year-old retiree, believes she’s won the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes. She’s handed over tens of thousands of dollars to scammers in order to collect a prize that doesn’t exist. No matter how her daughters try, they can’t convince their mother she’s being scammed. With the stress from the scam damaging Valerie’s health, her daughters take drastic measures.

Duration:00:24:45

Scammers Drained the Life out of Our Mother: Part 1

7/27/2018
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Valerie, a social and energetic retiree, can’t believe her luck when she receives a letter stating that she’s won the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes. When Valerie shares the news with her adult daughters, they don’t think much of it. Then large sums of money start disappearing from Valerie’s bank account, her telephone rings nonstop, and she retreats from social life. Concerned, Valerie’s daughter’s launch their own investigation and discover that their mother has been sucked into a...

Duration:00:27:27

Nominate Us and Take the ‘Perfect Scam’ Quiz!

6/29/2018
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We’ll be back with new episodes of The Perfect Scam on July 27. In the meantime, enjoy this bonus episode featuring the producers of the podcast showing off their fraud-busting skills in a pop quiz. And don’t forget to nominate The Perfect Scam for The People’s Choice Podcast Awards at www.podcastawards.com. Nominations open July 1.

Duration:00:13:49

Frank’s Favorite Scams & Tips From Fraud Watch Network

6/22/2018
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In this episode of The Perfect Scam, Frank discusses his favorite scams. Then Will speaks with AARP Fraud Watch Network experts Kristin Keckeisen and Amy Nofziger to learn more about being on the front lines and helping victims who’ve been scammed.

Duration:00:26:03

A Scammer Tells All

6/15/2018
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In this episode of The Perfect Scam, we pull back the curtain on call centers and learn about the rise and fall of one call center employee who scammed victims daily. We’ve talked a lot about scams but not big-news breaches. Frank discusses major online breaches such as at Equifax, checking your credit scores, and monitoring your kids' credit/identity.

Duration:00:31:31

Elaine’s Gemstone Jerk

6/8/2018
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When Elaine makes a connection with a man on a dating site, she believes this could be something really special. Over time, the online relationship turns romantic. So when Elaine’s new boyfriend claims to be overseas on business and needs money, she’s willing to help. In the end, the man disappears — but only after Elaine had sent him thousands of dollars in cash. Online romance scams are the No. 1 scam for money reported lost. It happens every day, and con artists are only getting more...

Duration:00:29:16

Ann’s Credit Card Re-Scam

6/1/2018
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Ann was the victim of something called a re-scam. The scammer claimed to be from her credit card company and was calling to notify Ann of fraudulent charges on her account. Ann is normally wary of giving out information over the phone, but her husband had recently been diagnosed with cancer — so she was distracted and let her guard down. By the time she realized it was a scam, it was too late. The scammer used the information she provided to steal thousands of dollars from Ann’s bank account.

Duration:00:31:03

George & Sandra’s Accident Scam

5/25/2018
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George and Sandra are retirees in Santa Monica, Calif. On a typical afternoon drive, they are confronted by a driver who claims George and Sandra hit his car. He demands that they pull over, and when a second driver pulls up claiming to have witnessed the accident, George and Sandra are shocked. But these two aren’t gullible. They tell the drivers to follow them, and when the fraudsters realize they are being taken to the police station, they quickly drive away. TIPS: Intimidation and...

Duration:00:27:57

Beth’s Russian Hack

5/18/2018
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Beth receives a phone call and a follow-up message on her computer from a man claiming he’s from Dell. The message is strong: Her bank account is being hacked by Russians, and if she doesn’t pay up, they’ll steal even more of her money. Typically, Beth is able to pick up on scams, but Dell is a client she works with regularly — so her guard is down. The “Dell” representative tells her that she owes $3,998. “He gives me an address. I write the check out and mail it.” After quickly learning...

Duration:00:25:28

Married and Betrayed

5/11/2018
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Andrea’s husband secretly operated a Ponzi scheme for 15 years and stole millions of dollars from investors, including their relatives, friends and neighbors. This is her story of how she found out about the scheme and what’s happened to her life after her husband was convicted.

Duration:00:22:25