Pretend - a true crime documentary podcast

By Creative Babble

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Subscribers: 712
Reviews: 7


 Aug 14, 2019

Pascale
 Aug 10, 2019
Sort of a true crime version of Reveal. Very well done! I highly recommend!


 Aug 4, 2019

me
 Aug 2, 2019
this is well done


 Mar 15, 2019

Description

Pretend Radio is a documentary-style podcast about real people pretending to be someone else. I interview con artists, snake oil salesmen, undercover FBI agents—pretty much anyone living a lie.

Episode Date
S606 The Treasure Hunter
2482
A Florida treasure-hunting CEO says he was tricked by a conman. Seafarer Exploration, a treasure salvage company, has spent the last 13 years trying to find a 300-year-old Spanish galleon sunken off the coast of Florida. A galleon is a large sailboat, with multiple leveled decks, and 3 or 4 masts. These ships were designed to carry large treasures found in the new world and bring them back to Spain.  Lost treasure In 1715, a Spanish fleet loaded up with silver departed from Havana, Cuba. Seven days later, a hurricane off the east coast of central Florida swooped in and took down eleven of the twelve ships. Hence, the reason they call this part of Florida the treasure coast.  But as you can imagine, trying to find the mother load buried underneath the ocean is like finding a needle in a haystack. If Seafarer Exploration has any chance of finding this treasure, they are going to need to find someone who can build a ship that is powerful enough to scan the ocean floor. Imagine a giant floating metal detector that can capture high-resolution images of the seabed. That's when Kyle Kennedy, CEO of Seafarer Exploration, met a man who said, "Sure. I can build you this machine." His name was Dr. Michael Torres.   Kyle Kennedy claims that Michael Torres presented himself as an aeronautical engineer who graduated with a doctorate degree from Duke University. Torres also said he taught at MIT Draper labs and represented the NSA while also working on multiple classified government contracts. Kyle Kennedy couldn't believe it. This Dr. Michael Torres guy was perfect! And on top of an unbelievable resume, Kennedy says that Dr. Torres was a wounded war hero, who served two tours in Afghanistan. He was even awarded the Purple Heart medal.  The lawsuit Fast-forward a few years later, Kyle Kennedy is now suing Michael Torres for fraud. He says Michael Torres is a con artist who faked his credential.  So, who is this guy? Dr. Michael Torres? I'm going to track him down to find out if he really is who they say he is. It turns out that the conman in this story is not who you would expect. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Oct 16, 2020
S605: The Inheritance
3106
A man says his best friend scammed him out of almost $100,000. Now, he's getting revenge. Jonathan Walton fell for the oldest trick in the book. He said, “It wasn't some Nigerian Prince emailing me in my spam folder. It was a living, breathing, lovable woman.” That lovable woman’s name is Mair Smyth. She’s also known as Marianne Smyth, or Marianne Andle, or Marianne Welch. She has 23 known aliases. The way Johnathan Walton describes her, Marianne Smyth is a gifted con artist who brilliantly juggles lies with ease. Each lie gracefully circles in the air, passing through her hands, without ever getting caught. But when she decided to rip off Johnathan Walton, she picked the wrong mark.  You can learn more about this story by visiting https://johnathanwalton.com/ Bonus episode Historical Cons - The man who sold the Brooklyn Bridge Patreon exclusive episode This is the first in a series of new Patreon only episodes. The series will focus on historical con artists. Today's episode is about the man who sold the Brooklyn Bridge. This week, I'm joined by Rebekah Sebastian with the Die-alogue podcast and the Yellowtape true crime trivia show.  Listen here: https://www.patreon.com/posts/42197195 Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Oct 02, 2020
S604: How to disappear part 4
3248
Confessions of a former identity thief  Dartanyon A. Williams stole his parents' identities at the age of 15. Unfortunately, they weren’t his last victims. Dartanyon, who also goes by DAW, claims he has stolen thousands of identities. So many that he lost count.  How to steal someone’s identity How did he do it? He had many tactics. But the most proven technique was paying off employees at restaurants, car dealerships, and tax preparation companies. These employees served as double agents. When no one was looking, they would collect customer social security numbers and smuggle them to DAW. Today, DAW’s life of crime is behind him. He’s currently running for congress this November for the U.S. House to represent Louisiana's 6th Congressional District.  How to protect your identity These days, it’s just as easy to steal your identity from a breached database. Everything an identity thief needs to steal your identity is already online. What can you do to protect yourself?  Click here to see if your email has been involved in a breached database: https://haveibeenpwned.com/ Freezing your credit and setting up a fraud alert I’ve taken the extreme step of freezing my credit. It’s actually not really that extreme. In fact, it’s quite easy. In this episode, you’ll hear how simple it is to lock down your credit so that no one can assume your identity.  Michael Bazzell, a privacy consultant, walks me through the credit freeze process. For more details, download his step-by-step guide.  Essentially, get a free credit report from one of the credit bureaus, then ask them to freeze your credit. This way, no one can open a line of credit under your name. If you ever need to unfreeze your credit, it’s easy. Just unfreeze your credit by going online or with a quick phone call.  Equifax Online: https://www.equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services/credit-freeze/ Experian Online: https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html TransUnion Online: https://service.transunion.com/dss/orderStep1_form.page Michael Bazzell To learn more about Michael Bazzell, check out his website IntelTechniques.com and listen to his podcast The Privacy, Security, & OSINT show.  I also recommend you buy a copy of Extreme Privacy: What it takes to disappear. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Sep 18, 2020
S603: How to disappear part 3
3686
In the last two episodes, you heard from Michael Bazzell a privacy expert whose job is to make people disappear. But who is he? Why is he so passionate about privacy? And how exactly does he make people disappear? I'm going to do my best to figure him out.  It turns out Michael Bazzell eats his own dog food. He's pretty much an invisible man. I have no idea where he lives or what he looks like. I've spent hours talking to Michael these past few months hoping that he will slip up and let out some detail about his private life. Nope. This guy is locked down and takes his privacy seriously.  If you want to disappear, here is a checklist of things you’ll need to get started: First, you’ll need a copy of Michael Bazzell’s book titled Extreme Privacy: What it takes to disappear. A secure VPN to protect your location. Michael Bazzell says that a VPN is probably the single most important item on this list.  A Faraday bag for your smartphone like this one.  For more resources, make sure to visit inteltechniques.com. And make sure to check out Michael Bazzell’s podcast The Privacy, Security, & OSINT Show. It's time to reevaluate your digital privacy. Everything you need to know in order to live off the digital grid. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Sep 04, 2020
S602: How to disappear part 2
2709
In the last episode, we talked about the wrong way to disappear. Faking your own death rarely works. But did you know that there are real people out there who legitimately need to fade away into society?  Who needs to disappear? There are many reasons to live anonymously. However, we’ve broken it down to four different archetypes: the executive, the celebrity, the victim, and the government employee.  The executive CEOs and business executives are easy targets. They take all the credit when things go right. But they’re also responsible any time something goes wrong. And when that happens they have to minimize the threat. It could be a disgruntled employee, or they'be a target because of their wealth. Recently, a Silicon Valley CEO was kidnapped and murdered by two former employees. Hear tactics executives use to live privately. The celebrity Today’s celebrities are more accessible than ever. Stars like Taylor Swift, Eminem, and UFC fighter Anthony Smith have had their homes broken into. Alison Sweeney, from Days of our Lives and the Biggest Loser, talks about balancing the limelight with basic privacy rights.  The victim Often times, domestic violence victims need to disappear in order to survive. Hear the story on how one victim fled her attacker.  The government employee Judges and prosecutors are often targets of intimidation and death threats. And police are targets too due to the heightened attention on police brutality and racial profiling. Learn how government employees eliminate the threat by making themselves impossible to find. This series is a collaboration with Michael Bazzell. In the next few episodes, we’re going to show you to successfully vanish from society. You too can live undetected. It’s not just for wealthy CEOs.  For more than 20 years, Michael Bazzell worked on behalf of the US government investigating computer crimes. He was also a consultant on the hacker show Mr. Robot. He no longer works for the government. These days, Michael Bazzell helps people disappear. ---- Get Michael Bazzell's book: Extreme Privacy: What it takes to disappear Affiliate slink disclaimer. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Aug 21, 2020
S601: How to disappear part 1
2452
Did Olivia Newton-John’s Former Boyfriend Fake His Own Death?Faking your own death is almost always a bad idea. Hear the story of Patrick McDermott, Olivia Newton John’s boyfriend, who many believe staged his own death.  The wrong way to disappear People have been playing dead since the beginning of time. There’s really no way of knowing for how long this has been going on. But I can imagine that the illusion of dying is closely correlated with the concept of debt. If you owe someone lots of money, you have two options: either pay it or run away.  Patrick McDermott, Olivia Newton-John’s missing boyfriend, had every reason to run away. His film work had dried up and he owed his ex-wife thousands of dollars in back child support. It took 10 days for anyone to realize he was missing. Olivia Newton-John wasn’t looking for him because they had just recently broken up. It wasn’t until he didn’t show up to pick up his son that his ex-wife noticed something was wrong. But people can’t just run away without leaving behind clues.   Patrick McDermott was last seen after going on an overnight fishing trip. Was McDermott lost at sea or was he just on the run? The truth is, no one wanted to find out. His ex-wife filed a claim on his life insurance. And Olivia Newton John wanted the whole thing put behind her. When the manager of the marina was asked about McDermott’s whereabouts, he said that Patrick McDermott’s name was indeed on the ship’s manifesto. And there was something else. He left behind his tackle box. Inside, they found his wallet, driver’s license, and car keys.  Why would anyone want to fake their own death? I haven’t seen any real study on this topic but I can imagine that there are many reasons why someone would want to leave their own life behind and start fresh. It could be forbidden love like in Romeo and Juliet. Or it can be greed—like someone trying to cash in on their own life insurance policy. When it comes to dying, people have many different motivations.  How to disappear with Michael Bazzell This series is a collaboration with Michael Bazzell, a privacy consultant and host of The PRIVACY, SECURITY, & OSINT Show. We’re going to show you the wrong way and the right way to disappear.  A special thanks to Philip Klein. If you want to read more about Patrick McDermott’s disappearance, check out the book “Lost at Sea: The hunt for Patrick McDermott.” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Aug 07, 2020
Introducing Smoke Screen: Fake Priest
551
While we wait for next week's episode on “How to disappear,” I wanted to share with you a brand new documentary podcast that I think you PRETENDERs will really like. It’s called Smoke Screen: Fake Priest.  Smoke Screen: Fake Priest is an investigative podcast about a priest named Ryan Scott. Father Ryan is a con man who also goes by the name Randall Stocks, Ryan Geh-vi-linger and SEVEN other names.   I don’t want to spoil it for you but you won’t believe the kinds of crimes he’s accused of. This is a story of fraud, stealing, cheating, and possibly even murder.  The craziest part is that Father Ryan is free and working on his next con.  Hear the exclusive sit down interview with Father Ryan himself. In the interview, he reveals a shocking secret. Okay, I think I’ve said too much.  Subscribe to Smoke Screen: Fake Priest now wherever you listen to podcasts. Check out the preview.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jul 30, 2020
COVID-19 Scams: The Rattlesnake King
2505
The COVID-10 pandemic is a conman’s Superbowl. In times like these, when there's so much uncertainty, snake oil salesmen are ready to promise you a cure. In this episode, you'll hear from a woman who takes one of these miracle drugs. I ask her why she takes it. Sources: https://www.who.int/csr/don/2011_11_24/en/ https://wayback.archive-it.org/7993/20170722143956/https:/www.fda.gov/Food/RecallsOutbreaksEmergencies/SafetyAlertsAdvisories/ucm184087.htm https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/04/what-can-coronavirus-tell-us-about-conspiracy-theories/610894/ https://news.gallup.com/poll/248837/church-membership-down-sharply-past-two-decades.aspx https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2020/may/holy-spirit-empowered-christian-global-pentecostal-study.html Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jun 16, 2020
COVID-19 Scams: How to Steal a Stimulus Check
2210
COVID-19 Scams I wasn’t expecting to be back with a new PRETEND episode so soon. In fact, I’m still wrapping up the final episodes for my new show called CRIMINAL CONDUCT. But the world around us has changed. And scammers are on the prowl.  If you live in the US, chances are you probably received your stimulus payment. It went either straight into your bank account through direct deposit. Or some of you may have cashed the check that you received in the mail.  We’re talking about much-needed money for tens of millions of Americans out of work due to the Coronavirus. $1,200 for individuals and $3,400 for a family of four.  The IRS has sent out 150 million payments so far since the time of this recording… but more payments are still expected to still arrive through the end of June.  And if you haven’t received your check, you’re probably wondering what’s the hold-up? Unfortunately for some, your money is probably gone and in the hands of thieves.  Today, I’m going to show you exactly how easy it is for scammers to steal your money. In fact, I’ve challenged a privacy expert to try and hack into my private information. I was really shocked at what he was able to find. Resources: Password managers 1Passowrd.com (User-friendly and secure) Bitwarden (More secure cloud-based password manager) KeePassXC (More secure computer-based password manager)  Search to see if you’re password is exposed in a breached database https://haveibeenpwned.com/ Credit freezes Credit Freeze Tutorial (Full Workbook)  Annual Credit Report (Free credit report to detect fraud) Enable 2-factor authentication on all platforms that support it https://twofactorauth.org/ Online removal workbook https://inteltechniques.com/data/workbook.pdf Additional resources Michael Bazzell’s website Intel Techniques Eva Velasquez Identity Theft Resource Center Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
May 26, 2020
Inside Criminal Conduct
1158
//Criminal Conduct debuts on March 23rd.// Get an inside look into the making of the new podcast. Thank you to Jerri Williams from FBI Retired Case File Review for helping us with this bonus episode. You can listen to the episode one now on Patreon. https://www.patreon.com/posts/34832524 Subscribe to Criminal Conduct now so you won't miss an episode. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Mar 16, 2020
BIG ANNOUNCEMENT: Criminal Conduct
123
On September 2nd, 2010, 24 year-old Michelle O’Connell broke up with her boyfriend, St. Johns County Sheriff’s Deputy, Jeremy Banks. Minutes later, she was dead. The St. Johns Sheriff’s Office quickly ruled the case a suicide, without examining crucial forensic evidence or interviewing any key witnesses. A medical examiner ruled her death a homicide, yet other investigations failed to gain traction. Her boyfriend, Deputy Jeremy Banks was never charged and is still working as a St. Johns County Sheriff’s Deputy. Years later, an amateur sleuth named Eli Washtock winds up murdered after investigating Michelle O’Connell’s death. What did he find out? ‘Criminal Conduct’ is an investigative true crime podcast series hosted by John Taylor and Javier Leiva. The hosts retrace the footsteps of Eli Washtock, the slain sleuth; picking up the investigation where he left off. ‘Criminal Conduct’ will be released in the spring of 2020. Subscribe now on all podcast platforms. criminalconduct.net Apple Podcast https://apple.co/2S4KaoG Google Play http://bit.ly/CriminalConGoogle Stitcher http://bit.ly/CriminalConStitcher Spotify https://spoti.fi/2S0 Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Feb 03, 2020
S510: The Joe Schmo Show
3649
The Joe Schmo Show is a real-life Truman Show—where everyone is an actor except one unsuspecting guy. It’s a reality show within a reality show.  The series everyone watched on SPIKE TV was called The Joe Schmo show. But the show Matt Kennedy Gould thought he was participating in was called The Lap of Luxury—a Big Brother style television show. He had no idea that the people he was living with were all actors.  The series was created by Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese (Deadpool). It was hosted by Ralph Garman and written and produced by J. Holland Moore. Season one starred a young Kristen Wiig who played a quack psychiatrist. I must warn you. This show did not age well. It would not survive in today’s #metoo movement. Despite what it lacks in sensitivity, it makes up for in its ingenuity and heart.  In this episode, Melissa with Moms and Murder and I talk with Chase Rogan, season three’s Joe Schmo, to find out what it’s like to be the star of television’s biggest hoax. Today’s episode was written and produced by me and Melissa.  Original music was provided by thechicken.net Additional music by Blue dot sessions All clips in this podcast were used in compliance with the US copyright act for fair use exemption, for criticism and commentary  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jan 14, 2020
S509 The Santa Claus Man
2648
A con artist save Christmas Brian Earl with the Christmas Past podcast shares a Christmas story you’ve probably never heard before. In the early 1900s, children’s letters to Santa Claus never made it to the North Pole. They landed in the dead letter office and were eventually destroyed. But along came John Gluck, a hustler who took these letters to Santa and turned it into an opportunity to get rich and famous. It’s the strange and true story of government agents, spies, an art thief, U.S. presidents, and gun-toting boy scouts. Check out “My Dear Santa” with Brian Earl from the Christmas Past podcast ------- CreditsToday’s show was written and edited by Javier Leiva. Our theme music was written and composed by Joe Basile with TheChicken.net. Additional music by Podington Bear. ------- Support for this episode is brought to you by Detective TrappAnaheim investigator Julissa Trapp is not like other detectives. She’s the only woman on the homicide squad, and a skilled chameleon: undercover cop in vice stings, crime-scene commander, patient confidante of killers. A master interrogator, she invokes her personal experience – and deepest griefs — as a tool to elicit confessions. When a young woman’s body is found at a trash-sorting plant, Trapp learns the murder may be linked to the disappearance of three other women in nearby Santa Ana. Trapp embarks on a dark journey that brings her face to face with a man who takes “a little piece of her soul.” Listen now at Wondery.fm/PretendDT Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Dec 18, 2019
S508: The Prank Call part 4
2083
PrankNet is a network of online terrorists who performed crank calls which caused thousands of dollars worth in damages. These cruel prank phone calls created anxiety and fear for anyone who picked up the phone. PrankNet victims destroyed hotel rooms, set off fire alarms, and flooded rooms by damaging the sprinkler system.  In part 3, you heard actual Pranknet prank calls. In part 4, you’ll hear from a former prank caller who says she was one of the architects behind Pranknet’s most despicable hoax. It involved two female KFC employees in Manchester, New Hampshire. The two employees were convinced to strip naked in the freezing cold and urinate on each other. Hear how Jeri Batsford says she helped Pranknet orchestrate some of their most twisted pranks. CreditsToday’s show was written by Javier Leiva and edited by Molly Brock. Our theme music was written and composed by Joe Basile with TheChicken.net. Additional music by Blue Dot Sessions and Podington Bear. Support for this episode is brought to you by Detective TrappAnaheim investigator Julissa Trapp is not like other detectives. She’s the only woman on the homicide squad, and a skilled chameleon: undercover cop in vice stings, crime-scene commander, patient confidante of killers. A master interrogator, she invokes her personal experience – and deepest griefs — as a tool to elicit confessions. When a young woman’s body is found at a trash-sorting plant, Trapp learns the murder may be linked to the disappearance of three other women in nearby Santa Ana. Trapp embarks on a dark journey that brings her face to face with a man who takes “a little piece of her soul.” Listen now at Wondery.fm/PretendDT Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Dec 04, 2019
S507: The Prank Call part 3
2383
When does a prank call go too far? When it leads to sexual abuse and thousands of dollars worth of destruction.  PrankNetThe punks at Pranknet are believed to be responsible for tens of thousands of dollars worth in damages. They often called restaurants making employees set off sprinklers systems and fire alarms. Sometimes they would even call hotel guests directly and convince them to shatter hotel windows. An ESPN reporter falls for a Pranknet hoaxNobody is safe from PrankNet's mayhem. Even Elizabeth Moreau, an ESPN reporter, was persuaded to swing a toilet seat across her Hilton Garden Inn window in the middle of the night. She thought there was a gas leak in the building. All of these calls were recorded and posted on Youtube. You can hear the desperation in her voice during the call.  Who is behind PrankNet?The mastermind behind PrankNet is allegedly a Canadian man who goes by the name of Dex. Dex, who’s real name is Tariq Malik, is clearly proud of his work. However, when exposed by an internet blog, he vanished without a trace.  A prank caller confessesI wanted to learn more about PrankNet and how they operate. The question is, could I get one of them to talk with me? Fortunately, Jeri Batsford, a former PrankNet member, deflected from the group.  Listen to part 3 of The Prank Call on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, or Google Play. ----- CreditsToday’s show was written by Javier Leiva and edited by Logan Castrodale. Our theme music was written and composed by Joe Basile with TheChicken.net. Additional music by Blue Dot Sessions and Podington Bear. ----- Support for this episode is brought to you by Detective TrappAnaheim investigator Julissa Trapp is not like other detectives. She’s the only woman on the homicide squad, and a skilled chameleon: undercover cop in vice stings, crime-scene commander, patient confidante of killers. A master interrogator, she invokes her personal experience – and deepest griefs -- as a tool to elicit confessions. When a young woman’s body is found at a trash-sorting plant, Trapp learns the murder may be linked to the disappearance of three other women in nearby Santa Ana. Trapp embarks on a dark journey that brings her face to face with a man who takes “a little piece of her soul.” Listen now at Wondery.fm/PretendDT Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Nov 20, 2019
S506: The Prank Call part 2
2518
A prank call leads to a 2-hour strip-search at a fast-food restaurant A prank caller posing as a cop calls a manager at a Hardee's Restaurant in Rapid City, South Dakota. He tells the store manager that one of his employees stole money from a customer. Instead of calling the real police, the manager decides to strip search the employee. This prank call went on for more than 2 hours. I spoke with the manager of that restaurant to find out why he obeyed the prank caller's every demand. Searching for David Stewart—the prank call suspect Victor Flaherty is now the Cheif of Police in West Bridgewater police department in Massachusetts at the time in 2004, he was a detective sergeant searching for the notorious fast-food prank caller. Many police stations across the United States tried to locate the perpetrator—and all of them failed. It turns out that tracing the calls back to the source proved to be nearly impossible.  Listen to the lengthVictor Flaherty went through to find the suspect named David Stewart. If you want to start from the beginning, listen to part 1 here.   Credits Today’s show was written by Javier Leiva and edited by Molly Brock. Our theme music was written and composed by Joe Basile with TheChicken.net. Additional music by Blue Dot Sessions and Podington Bear.   References: Rapid City Journal Courier Journal MSNBC     Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Nov 06, 2019
S505: The Prank Call part 1
2940
Disclaimer: We will be talking about sexual abuse and other disturbing topics. Listener discretion is advised. Strip-search hoax A prank caller pretending to be a police officer instructed fast-food managers to strip-search female employees forcing them to jog naked, do jumping jacks and perform other humiliating acts. He made more than 70 of these calls in the United States over a 12-year period. Why do we obey? Some of the managers were charged with rape and kidnapping as a result of these pranks. How could they fall for such a prank? The truth is, humans are programmed to respect authority. But why do we obey? In this episode, you'll hear real audio from Stanley Milgram's experiments on obedience and authority. The results are shocking. Bonus episode Donna Summers, the manager from the McDonalds restaurant in Mount Washington, sued McDonald's for failing to warn her about the previous hoaxes. She asked for $50 million. She was awarded $1 million in punitive damages and $100,000 in compensatory damages. Listen to my conversation with her attorney Wendy Wagner. The Pranks part 1 BONUS (McDonalds Lawsuit) https://www.patreon.com/posts/pranks-part-1-30952858 Links and sources https://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/local/2005/10/09/a-hoax-most-cruel-caller-coaxed-mcdonalds-managers-/28936597/ https://rapidcityjournal.com/news/local/man-on-trial-for-kidnapping-rape/article_faeff508-246c-54db-8a66-15d121c5112d.html https://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/local/2005/10/09/a-hoax-most-cruel-caller-coaxed-mcdonalds-managers-/28936597/https://web.archive.org/web/20090325234639/http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15504125/ Credits Today’s show was written by Javier Leiva and edited by Molly Brock. Our theme music was written and composed by Joe Basile with TheChicken.net. Additional music by Blue Dot Sessions and Podington Bear. Southern True Crime Podcast Meetup Saturday, October 26, 2019 Tommy Condon’s Restaurant, Charleston, SC RSVP HERE   Support for this episode is brought to you by HempFusion Use promo code PRETEND for 20% off of your first order and free shipping at hempfusion.com. Get HempFusion shipped anywhere in the US.       Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Oct 23, 2019
S504: The Cousins part 2
2926

The most bizarre cyberstalking story you’ll ever hear


Susan Fensten is a victim of cyberstalking. Distant family members and ex-cons bombarded her with harassing emails. She felt cornered and there was nothing she could do about it.

Rapists and Stalkers and cannibals, oh my.

Two ex-cons convicted of raping a woman were sending her threatening emails. They even invited her to the Fall Slaughter an event hosted by a cannibalistic cult from upstate New York. The plan was to eat her alive.


It was all a hoax

None of this was real. All these threatening messages were fake. And worst of all, the people Susan thought she was interacting with weren’t real either. Today’s story focuses on the search for this cyberstalker. Who was targeting Susan? And why did they want her to suffer?

Subscribe to PRETEND on your favorite podcast app:  Apple Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, or Google Play.

 
Check out Susan Fensten’s Memoir based on this story titled, “You have a very soft voice, Susan.”


Today’s show was written by Javier Leiva and edited by Molly Brock. Our theme music was written and composed by Joe Basile with TheChicken.net. Additional music by Blue Dot Sessions and Podington Bear. 

 
Bonus episodes:

Susan Fensten shares a story that didn't make it in her book.

The full interview with FBI Special Agent Brandon Waller


__________



Southern True Crime Podcast Meetup

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Tommy Condon’s Restaurant, Charleston, SC

RSVP HERE




Support for this episode is brought to you by HempFusion


Use promo code PRETEND for 20% off of your first order and free shipping at hempfusion.com. Get HempFusion shipped anywhere in the US. 

 








Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Oct 09, 2019
Introducing: The Mysterious Mr. Epstein
598
For most of his life, Jeffrey Epstein was a mystery-- who he was, how he made his money, and how he got away with horrific crimes for so many years. The Mysterious Mr. Epstein explores how Epstein was able to use his wealth to buy status and credibility, to buy power, and ultimately to buy himself freedom from justice. From the network that brought you Dirty John. Listen now at Wondery.fm/pretend 

Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Oct 01, 2019
S503: The Cousins part 1
3011

This is not your typical internet stalker story. Susan Fensten's tale is one of torture, rape, bondage, cannibalism, and murder. It’s just plain cruel.  



It all started when Susan began looking for distant family members on a genealogy site. While trying to fill the gaps of her family tree, she found herself tangled in a web of lies.

 

Her newfound cousin, Leonard Nachman, bombarded her with pornographic emails and picture of himself masturbating while wearing nylon bodysuits. It was disturbing.

 

But I don't want to give away too much of the story. After you’re done listening to part one, get an early preview of part two on Patreon.



Also, check out Susan Fensten’s Memoir based on this story titled, “You have a very soft voice, Susan.”



Subscribe to PRETEND on your favorite podcast app:  Apple Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, or Google Play.



Today’s show was written by Javier Leiva and edited by Logan Castrodale. Our theme music was written and composed by Joe Basile with TheChicken.net. Additional music by Blue Dot Sessions. 

 

__________



Southern True Crime Podcast Meetup

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Tommy Condon’s Restaurant, Charleston, SC

RSVP HERE

 








Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Sep 25, 2019
S502: The Sugar Daddy part 2
3102

Alan Canty spent most of his lunch breaks rendezvousing with an 18-year-old sex worker named Dawn Spens in the seedy streets of downtown Detroit. His wife Jan Canty had no idea he was living a double-life.


A real-life Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde saga

Alan Canty was a prominent psychologist but to Dawn, and her pimp John “Lucky” Fry, he was known as Dr. Alan Miller. He developed an alter ego in order to protect his two worlds from colliding. However, secrets can’t last forever. One day, Alan Canty’s love affair came to a tragic end.
 

Links and sources:

If you enjoyed the story, check out Lowell Caufiel’s book titled Masquerade 

To learn more about Jan Canty’s memoir go to www.jancantyphd.com



Southern True Crime Podcast Meetup



Saturday, October 26, 2019

Tommy Condon’s Restaurant, Charleston, SC

Featuring:
  • Southern Fried True Crime
  • Trace Evidence
  • Moms and Murder
  • Pleasing Terrors
  • Something’s Not Right
  • Flatrock
  • Pretend
  • Unresolved
  • Already Gone

Credits

Today’s episode was edited by Bear Beat Productions and additional editing by Molly Brock

Our Theme is Music by Joe Basie with theChicken.net

And additional music by Blue Dot Sessions

 









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Sep 11, 2019
S501: The Sugar Daddy part 1
2069

1980s Prostitution in the Streets of Detroit

Back in the 1980s, Mark Bando was a Detroit police officer working the streets of Detroit. His assignment was to keep tabs on women forced into prostitution, their pimps, and the sugar daddies who kept them in business. Dawn Spens was one of those women. We follow their interlaced story.

Dawn’s sugar daddy was a prominent psychologist named Alan Canty. He would meet her for sex during his lunch break. This relationship went on for two years. Meanwhile, his wife Jan Canty didn’t know what was really going on. This rendezvous didn’t last forever. Hear how Alan Canty’s double life was exposed.

 


Meet the characters

The Sugar Daddy- Alan Canty

The Sex Worker- Dawn Spens

The Pimp- John “Lucky”


Links

If you enjoyed the story, check out Lowell Caufiel’s book titled Masquerade 



Subscribe to PRETEND on your favorite podcast app:  Apple Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, or Google Play.



This is part one of a two-part series. Subscribe to Patreon to listen to part two right now




Support for this episode is brought to you by MyWallSt

Are you thinking about investing in the stock market but don’t know where to start? Check out MyWallSt. With MyWallSt, you’re in control. Invest what you can, when you can. They provide you with a shortlist of well-researched stocks with significant growth potential—and you decided which ones to invest in.

 

Pretend listeners can access the entire MyWallSt app for free and use it for 30 days. Visit mywallst.com/pretend to download their app.




Credits

This episode was written and produced by Javier Leiva

Edited by Molly Brock

Music by Blue Dot Sessions and Podington Bear

Theme music by Joe Basile and thechicken.net

 






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Aug 28, 2019
Bonus: For Keeps - Paul Goresh, the Beatles Collector Who Befriended John Lennon
3883
I want to introduce you to one of the most curious podcasts out there. 
It’s my friend’s show called For Keeps. It has nothing to do with Pretend, but I think you’ll love it. David Peterkofsky, the host of For Keeps, finds some of the world's most interesting collectors and tells the stories behind their collections. 

This episode is one of my favorites. It’s about a man who was stalking John Lennon outside of the Dakota apartment building in New York City—but it’s not who you think it is. If you’re a Beatles fan, you’re going to find this episode insanely interesting. 

-

Paul Goresh's New York Daily News obituary • Opening theme: "Keepers" by Still Flyin' • Closing theme: "Slow Draw/Feeling In My Heart" by Eric Frisch• Additional music by Chad Crouch and Waltywww.forkeepspodcast.com



Support for this episode is brought to you by MyWallSt.

All our listeners can access the entire MyWallSt app for free and use it for 30days instead of the normal 7 days.

Visit mywallst.com/pretend to download their app now and get access to theirmarket-beating stock picks and expert guidance.






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Aug 14, 2019
S409: The Norco Bank Heist part 2
3927

The Norco Security Pacific Bank heist was just the beginning. 


The thief in the night

George Smith and his friend Chris Harven decided to rob a bank in Norco, California. And just like in the movies, these bank robbers charged into the bank and demanded all the money. Except, it was a Friday afternoon, and the vault was pretty much empty.

In part one of The Norco Bank Heist, we left off as the bank robbers blasted away the Sheriff Deputies arriving at the scene.


Doomsday

Peter Houlahan, author of the book “Norco ‘80” says that “There were over 500 rounds fired—200 of them shot at [Deputy Glyn] Balasky alone. They hit his vehicle 46 times, wounding him badly in the elbow. All three of the responding deputies had their vehicle struck multiple times. There were bullets in citizens cars, in houses, in the storefronts. Everything in that intersection was hit with gunfire. Five civilians had been injured.”


The Riverside County Sheriff's deputies were completely overwhelmed in the firefight. They never really stood a chance.


The pursuit

George Wayne Smith and his buddies managed to flee the scene and are on their way to get the cold cars parked a few miles away. But how did this chaotic chase end 60 miles east in a remote canyon heading towards the Mojave desert?

------

Norco ’80

Buy a copy of Norco ’80: The True Story of the Most Spectacular Bank Robbery in American History by Peter Houlahan on Amazon or wherever you get your books.


------

Support for this episode is brought to you by BetterHelp.

Is there is something that interferes with your happiness or is preventing you from achieving your goals? Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment.

Sign up today with discount code “PRETEND” to get 10% off your first month.

Betterhelp.com/pretend





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Jul 31, 2019
S408: The Norco Bank Heist part 1
3189
This is the story of the 1980 Norco bank robbery—one of the most violent bank heists in U.S. history. Remarkably, only three people died. However, 30 police cars and one helicopter were torn apart by bullets.
In this episode, you’re going to hear from some of the people who were there that day at the Security Pacific Bank.
This wasn’t your typical bank robbery. George Smith, the mastermind behind the heist, believed the rapture was coming. 
His gang of bank robbers were armed with military-grade weapons. The police never stood a chance. I mean, it was a downright war zone. Why would George Smith go to such extremes just to rob a bank? 
We’re going to spend the next two episodes trying to get inside the mind of George Wayne Smith. Who was he? And what motivated him to orchestrate such an insane bank robbery? And how did they finally catch him, the following day in the canyons, heading to the mojave desert? 
Buy a copy of Norco '80: The True Story of the Most Spectacular Bank Robbery in American History  by Peter Houlahan on Amazon or wherever you get your books. 

This episode was written and produced by Javier Leiva
Edited by Molly Clay
Music by Blue Dot Sessions
Theme music by Joe Basile and thechicken.net



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Jul 19, 2019
S407: The Psychic Vampires
2510

Susan Gerbic says that psychics are grief vampires—taking advantage of our broken hearts.


She asks, “Why isn’t anybody doing something about this?” Susan Gerbic is just like you and me. She has a normal job working as a baby photographer. But at night, she is a badass vigilante hunting psychics. Susan says, “One of my favorite things to do is try to expose people we call grief vampires. People who claim to speak to the dead.”

Her motivation is not to settle a vendetta. In fact, she says she’s never really been the target of a psychic. Susan simply doesn’t like them and the way they profit off of people’s grief. The US market for psychic services is worth about $2 billion annually according to IBIS World, a market research firm based in Los Angeles California.

On this episode of Pretend, Susan attempts to capture psychics lying on tape. These psychic hunters spent months setting up fake Facebook pages, hoping that a so-called psychic uses the falsified information during a psychic reading. It took a few tries but she finally got one on tape.


Links:

Silvia Browne gets punked by skeptic Mark Edward

Tim Braun (psychic)

Chip Coffey (psychic)

Thomas John (psychic)

New York Times article:

Inside the Secret Sting Operations to Expose Celebrity Psychics - The ...https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/26/magazine/psychics-skeptics-facebook.html


Cyberstalking

Have you or someone you know been a victim of cyberstalking? The internet is wonderful, but can also be such a scary place. If you want to share your story, send me a voicemail at 919-444-2280.


Support for this episode is brought to you by BetterHelp.

Is there is something that interferes with your happiness or is preventing you from achieving your goals? Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment.

Sign up today with discount code “PRETEND” to get 10% off your first month.

Betterhelp.com/pretend



This episode was written and produced by Javier Leiva

Theme music by Joe Basile with thechicken.net

Additional music by Glad Rags








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Jul 03, 2019
S406: The Psychic Kids (James Randi and Project Alpha)
2579
In 1979, two high school kids claiming to be psychic managed to fool parapsychology researchers at Washington University using simple magic tricks and sleight of hand. Little did the scientists know, these kids were just amateur magicians pulling a fast one on them.


Today, these kids are grown. Their names are Steve Shaw, who now goes by the stage name Banachek, and Mike Edwards. But back in 1979, they were seen as boys with exceptional abilities. They were planted in the parapsychology research study by the magician and skeptic James Randi. They coined this stunt Project Alpha.


The parapsychology lab at Washington State University was called the McDonnell Laboratory for Psychical Research. The lab ran a long series of experiments ranging from moving objects in sealed glass domes to controlling clocks and creating images appear on unexposed film. Banacheck and Edwards say they received no training from James Randi. They had to rely on their instincts and come up with illusions on the fly.

During their time at the McDonnell research institute, they followed one rule—always tell the truth if you’re ever asked whether they were faking the results. They kept this ruse going for almost three years.


This is part of my series on Psychics. Part 1 features my conversation with Uri Geller.

-------------

Links

EXPLORATORY RESEARCH WITH TWO NEW PSYCHIC METAL BENDERS
Transcribed from Research in Parapsychology (1981), pp. 144-146
Peter R. Phillips and Mark Shafer† (Washington University)
http://www.aiprinc.org/documents/PS.pdf

McDonnell Laboratory press release after the revelation
http://www.aiprinc.org/documents/CIA_on_Randi.pdf

Parapsychological Weapon - NSA Memo
Project STARGATE
https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/document/nsa-rdp96x00790r000100030042-9


-------------

Written and Produced by Javier Leiva

Theme music by Joe Basile with thechicken.net

Additional music by Podington Bear and Glad Rags

Additional audio provided by Banachek's Brain podcast

-------------

Support for this episode is brought to you by BetterHelp.

Is there is something that interferes with your happiness or is preventing you from achieving your goals? Connect with your professional counselor in a safe and private online environment.

Sign up today with discount code "PRETEND" to get 10% off your first month.

Betterhelp.com/pretend




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Jun 19, 2019
S405: The Psychic Spy (featuring Uri Geller)
3716

In 2017, The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) released more than 12 million pages of declassified documents online. Some of these documents pertained to the self-proclaimed psychic spy Uri Geller. 



The documents revealed a CIA funded study at the Stanford Research Institute revolving around psychokinesis. Psychokinesis is the ability for someone to move objects with the power of their minds. Why in the world would the CIA, arguably the world’s most elite spy agency, want to study psychics?

 

I interviewed Uri Geller about his time at the Stanford Research Institute. We spoke about his childhood, discovering his supernatural abilities, his involvement with spy agencies like the Israeli Mossad, and many other unbelievable events.



You have to remember, this all took place in the 1970s. Governments were more open to exploring the supernatural. Even the Soviet Union reportedly hired psychics to spy on their enemies.



But not everyone was eager to seek the help of psychics. Johnny Carson invited Uri Geller on The Tonight Show and it was a total disaster. Uri Geller could not perform his most basic tricks. What happened? Uri Geller says it was a hit job. 



To learn more about Uri Geller, check out The Secret Life of Uri Geller.  It's a fascinating documentary.


--------


Theme music by The Chicken

Additional music by Podington Bear, Glad Rags, Blue Dot Sessions
Written and produced by Javier Leiva







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Jun 05, 2019
S404: The Bounty Hunter Part 2
2724

Jack Saltarelli is a bounty hunter who also happens to be a former fugitive. 



In part one of the Bounty Hunter, a judge sentenced Jack to 20 years in prison for a drug offense. After failing to appeal the judge’s decision, Jack decided he wasn’t going back to prison.

Instead, Jack Saltarelli moved to Pennsylvania and started cooking meth in a mountainside cabin. When he wasn't cooking meth, Jack was hiding in plain sight on national television. He was volunteering as a search and rescue crew members looking for victims of the Atlanta Monster, serial killer Wayne Williams.

This is a wild story, so I don't want to spoil it for you. Hear how the FBI finally caught up to him.


Special thanks to former agent Jerri Williams with the FBI Retired Case File Review podcast for introducing me to Jack. I would also like to thank former FBI agent Judy Tyler and Jack Saltarelli for sharing their stories.



Jack Saltarelli with agent Judy Tyler and the FBI[/caption]



Credits

Pretend is produced by Javier Leiva

Theme music by The Chicken

Additional music by Blue Dot Sessions

Promos this week for A Date with Dateline







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May 22, 2019
S403: The Bounty Hunter Part 1
2371

Jack Saltarelli is a bounty hunter. His job is to hunt down fugitives. Any given day, he’s going after rapist, murderers, and people who skip court. Most bounty hunters carry lethal weapons, but not Jack. He goes door-to-door carrying a stun gun and a training revolver that fires rubber bullets. 



 

You may be asking yourself, what’s the difference between a cop and a bounty hunter? First of all, bounty hunters have more authority than local police. Cops have jurisdictions and they need warrants in order to enter your home. Bounty hunters, on the other hand, can hunt you down anywhere and they can even barge into your homes if they have to.

 

How can they get away with this? Simple. Let’s say you get arrested and sign a bail bond contract to get out of jail. The moment you sign that contract, you’re waiving your constitutional rights.

 

I met up with Jack at his bail bonds office in Gulfport, Mississippi. Let’s just say that Jack isn’t your ordinary bounty hunter. His story is much more complicated than that. Find out the secret Jack Saltarelli has been hiding for more than 30 years.

 

Part 2 is available right now for my Patreon supporters.



Retired FBI Agent Jerri Williams

You know, people always ask me, “Javier, where do you find these stories?” The answer is all sorts of places. But not this one. I learned about this story from my podcast from my friend Jerri Williams. Jerri is a retired FBI agent who has a podcast called FBI Retired Casefile Review. You may remember Jerri from the episode with the telemarketing con artist named Carl. If you haven’t check out FBI Retired Casefile Review, do yourself a favor and subscribe. Jerri is on every week featuring real former FBI agents describing their case. She is the real deal. You can listen to Jerri's interview with Jack Saltarelli and retired FBI agent Judy Tyler here.



Also, you should check out her new book, it’s called FBI Myths and Misconceptions: A Manual for Armchair Detectives. Jerri debunks clichés and misconceptions about the FBI in books, TV, and movies.



And thank you to you for helping me fund this story. If it weren’t for my Patreon supporters, I couldn’t be able to support the flight down to Gulf Port, MS, or the rental car and hotel. Seriously, this story was great because I was able to be there with Jack. If you want to hear more stories like this, please consider donating one dollar to the show. It really goes a long way.





Credits

Pretend is produced by Javier Leiva

Theme music by The Chicken

Additional music by Blue Dot Sessions

Promos this week for Beyond the Obituary and Spy Stories Podcast

 








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May 07, 2019
S402: The Soccer Mom
2406

Every night, Marie Walsh had the same nightmare.If only she could roll over and tell her husband the truth. But she can’t. Tonight, she’s going to have to suffer alone.



Marie says, "I had a dream where they were chasing me and chasing me." But one night, Marie's nightmare was different.

"I finally got away. I was finally free and they wouldn't be able to catch me. And I woke up feeling really happy. After all those years of being a nightmare, I'd finally gotten away."

But what was Marie running from? After all, she was just a middle-aged suburban mom who lived an unremarkable life.

"I was a middle-aged mother of three in a suburb of San Diego, California. I was a soccer mom. That's kind of what I did."

Every day revolved around her kids. "It was not that glamorous or exciting."

It was just this very average life. An average life that she’s worked so hard to keep. But one night, her recurring nightmare returned. Except for this time she was wide awake.

Find out the secret that kept Marie running for more than 30 years.

After the episode, make sure to read the book: A Tale Of Two Lives: The Susan LeFevre Fugitive Story

_______________


Lies, lies, and more lies

A few seasons ago, I asked you to submit stories about lies. Either lies that you’ve told or lies that have impacted you personally. And boy, was the response crazy! I ended up making a whole episode dedicated to lies. I want to try it again. I’ve set up a voice line so you can call in and leave a message. The number is 919-444-2280. Chances are your story could make it on the show.





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Apr 24, 2019
S401: The One Who Got Away
3425

Peter Pan syndrome is when someone refuses to grow up. 


It’s neither a disease nor a recognized mental disorder—it’s just a state of mind. Today, you're going to meet a man who became a fugitive in order to live in his very own Neverland.

Larry Douglas Jones is not your typical fugitive. He had a wife and three kids. And to be honest, he's not a dangerous man. He became overwhelmed with life and decided to run away.

This is the first in a series of stories about fugitives running from the law. This season, we’ll explore how abandoning your old identity leads to a whole set of complications. How do these criminals assume a new identity? What strategies do they use to avoid getting caught?


_______________


This episode was 100% funded by you.

I was able to travel to Gulfport, MS for this story using funds raised on Patreon. So if you’d like to see me to take the show on the road, consider chipping in a buck or two on our Patreon page. Plus, you’ll get access to early episodes and bonus content. So, thank you so much for the support.

_______________


Lies, lies, and more lies

A few seasons ago, I asked you to submit stories about lies. Either lies that you’ve told or lies that have impacted you personally. And boy, was the response crazy! I ended up making a whole episode dedicated to lies. I want to try it again. I’ve set up a voice line so you can call in and leave a message. The number is 919-444-2280. Chances are your story could make it on the show.











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Apr 10, 2019
Bonus: The Shawcross Letters
2890

Arthur Shawcross is one of America's most notorious serial killers. This is the story about one of his closest friends. Who do you turn to when your deepest fantasies involve murder and cannibalism? It's an affliction most people can't relate to—unless you're a serial killer. For John Paul Fay, that confidant was a killer named Arthur Shawcross. In a series of letters, Fay confesses to Shawcross his desire to kill, yet he never crosses that line.



 

My friend John Taylor interviewed John Paul Fay and asked him, what keeps him from acting on his disturbing urges. This episode is frightening. If you enjoyed it as much as I did, please check out the Twisted Podcast. You won't be disappointed.



The episode you're about to listen to is borrowed from the Twisted Podcast with John Taylor. You can read John Paul Fay's book titled the Shawcross Letters: My Journey Into The Mind Of Evil.



*Warning this episode contains extremely graphic material including descriptions of murder and cannibalism.

 

Listen to my full conversation with John Taylor on my Patreon feed.




Alison Sweeney joins us to talk about the Shawcross Letters and her new project “Chronicle Mysteries” on Hallmark Movie and Mysteries.

The host of a true crime podcast embarks on her latest project, and uncovers a decades-old murder while investigating a mysterious disappearance, in “Chronicle Mysteries: Recovered,” a new original premiering Sunday, February 17, (9 p.m. ET/PT) on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. Alison Sweeney (“Days of Our Lives,” “The Biggest Loser”) executive produces and stars, along with Benjamin Ayres (“Saving Hope”).

The Chronicle Mysteries: Recovered premieres Sunday, February 17 at 9pm/8c

The Chronicle Mysteries: The Wrong Man premieres Sunday, February 24 at 9pm/8c

The Chronicle Mysteries: Vines that Bind premieres Sunday, March 3 at 9pm/8c

 

 






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Feb 20, 2019
Bonus: The Commander
1980
Abby Ellin didn't know it yet, but the man she was about to marry was a compulsive liar living a double life. She was duped—hard.

In this bonus episode, we talk about her story and why she's now obsessed with con artists.

Abby Ellin is a New York Times contributor and author of Duped: Double  Lives, False Identities and the Conman I Almost Married


____________

Stick around to the end of the episode to listen to a preview of Pretend season 4. 









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Jan 30, 2019
S311: The Prophet – Matthew Fenner vs. the Word of Faith Fellowship Part 2
2311
Let’s say a man speaks to another man. Perhaps he looks at him for too long or laughs at his joke. That’s gay. Maybe you’re standing too close. It doesn’t matter. If I’m a Word of Faith fellowship member and I think you’re gay—then you’re gay. I don’t have to prove it–I know it. And I can’t let you suffer from those gay demons. I have to pray for you to release the gay spirits out of you. And the way we pray at the Word of Faith Fellowship is through loud prayers. And it’s not only me praying over you—Sussie, Bobby, and Roger will join in. Soon, you’ll have 20 to 30 people screaming at you. And like Jane says, “people can get carried away.” So, it’s easy to imagine this prayer becoming more than a loud scream. I might hold on to your shoulders and give you a gentle tug. Then, I might punch you in the chest. Maybe my hands creep further up, and before I realize it, I’m wrapping my fingers around your neck. This hypothetical scenario I painted for you is exactly what Matthew Fenner says happened to him.
Release the gay demons

Tonight, it’s Matthew Fenner’s turn to receive an exorcism. Church ministers are praying over him. They’re trying to release the devil’s grip over his homosexual desires. Danielle Cordes was there the night. She says Brooke Covington, Jane’s so-called adopted daughter, was the one calling the shots. People who know Brooke’s style of worship say that she doesn’t have time to deal with your devils. So when it’s time to pray over you, it’s going to hurt. Brooke barks at Danielle and demands her to join in. “Brooke was the one coaching them through it,” explained Danielle. She says she too participated in the prayer. “I never slapped him or did any of that. I had my arm on him, but if I had like, I don’t know, I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t do it.” 
The case against Brooke Covington and the Word of Faith Fellowship

The night after the alleged attack, Matthew Fenner escaped the Word of Faith Fellowship. He went straight to the police and filed a report. Unfortunately for him, the authorities were only willing to file misdemeanor charges. It will take years for actual criminal charges to be filed. To give you an idea, this beating allegedly took place in January 2013. Matthew was 19 at the time. He’s 25 years old now. That’s almost 5 years and there’s still no resolution to this case. 
What happens next?

This is the final installment of season 3 The Prophet. This might be the last episode of this series, but the story is far from over. To keep up with this story, follow John Huddle’s blog religiouscultinfo.com andCitizens against corruption and abuse on Facebook.

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Dec 04, 2018
S310: The Prophet – Matthew Fenner vs. the Word of Faith Fellowship Part 1
1943
Jane Whaley recently turned 80-years-old. Obviously, the Word of Faith Fellowship can’t go on forever. At least not the way we know of it today. So, who’s taking over? Can it go on without Jane Whaley’s vision and authority? Or will it all just fall apart?

John Huddle, a former member, says that Jane’s biological daughter Robin Webster is believed to take over the church. But he suspects that, when Jane Whaley dies, there will be a power struggle within the church.
The case against the Word of Faith Fellowship

We’ll talk more about this alleged attack in the next episode. Today, we’re going to focus on how we got to this point. Before Brooke Covington was charged with kidnapping and beating Matthew Fenner, she was actually the person who recruited him into the church. How did she go from being his spiritual leader, to being charged with beating him? In order to understand the case against Brooke Covington and the Word of Faith Fellowship ministries, you first understand how Matthew Fenner joined the church.


Cults recruit the vulnerable

The biggest questions I get all the time is, how do people get sucked into a cult. Everyone says that they would never fall for it, so how did Matthew and his family become one of them?
 
Before Matthew Fenner joined the Word of Faith Fellowship, he thought they were freaks. He heard rumors of the demonic possessions and members vomiting in buckets to evil spirits. Let’s just say that he wasn’t exactly a perfect candidate. And on top of that, Matthew was openly gay and considered himself an atheist. So, how does someone like him get sucked into a ultra conservative Christian cult?

The Word of Faith Fellowship found Matthew Fenner, and his family, when there were at their lowest point. Matthew’s family rejected his sexuality, his mother was in a bad marriage, and they were running out of money. These were desperate times.

Matthew attended his first service in February 2010. During this time he had friends, was a member of a dance troupe, and attended public school. By December of that same year, he cut ties with everyone he knew, quit dance, and enrolled in the church’s private school. How did it happen? How can someone go from gay atheist to a god-fearing cult member?

Matthew Fenner describes his journey into the Word of Faith Fellowship. Listen to episode 10 of the Prophet on Apple podcast, Google Play, Spotify, or Stitcher.

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Nov 27, 2018
S309: The Prophet – Inside the Mind of Jane Whaley
2930

Christina Bryant is about to go face-to-face with the real Jane Whaley.

 

In my previous episode, I got to see the political side of Jane—the Jane she wanted the world to meet. Christina, on the other hand, is about to talk with the real Jane Whaley—the one everyone fears. And she got it all on tape.



Christina Bryant went undercover inside the Word of Faith Fellowship. She’s wearing a hidden microphone. It’s been 6 years since she last step foot in the church. You see, Christina is a former member who has been excommunicated and is forbidden to contact her family. If she ever wants to ever speak with them again, she has to go through Jane Whaley first.



This 3-hour recording is completely engrossing. However, there are certain parts of this tape that brings up interesting legal questions regarding child abuse. Jane flat out says she’s not required by law to report sexual abuse because of pastor confidentiality. Is this true? How can this be true? Jane also claims if a child has bruising, the NC Department of Social Services doesn’t consider that abuse.




Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect in North Carolina

I reached out to my friend Rabia Chaudry from the Undisclosed Podcast for help. She put me in touch with her co-host Colin Miller, to walk me through what Jane says and how it applies to North Carolina law. I have to say, I’m shocked.



I also spoke with NC licensed attorney Paul Ditz. He’s one of the few attorney’s to have ever questioned Jane Whaley on the stand. He tells me that just because DSS allows minor bruising and Jane is protected by penitent privilege, doesn’t mean that she’s not responsible.



Take a deep breath because you’re about to go inside the mind of Jane Whaley. 




Sources:

  1. NC Article 7 – Competency of Witnesses
  2. Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect in North Carolina
  3. Parental Discipline: When Is It Abuse and/or a Crime?
  4. A&E Documentary on the Word of Faith Fellowship titled “The Devil Next Door” postponed


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Nov 20, 2018
S308: The Prophet - Meet Jane Whaley Part 3
2792

The world first learned about the Word of Faith Fellowship after an Inside Edition exposé  in 1995. The investigation, led by the Trinity Foundation, revealed accusations of abuse within the church. 

Watch the Inside Edition story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YwE5fBT9RYE

Jane Whaley's quiet little kingdom was suddenly in the spotlight. Hidden cameras captured Jane's signature screaming prayer. Church members told Inside Edition that they would strap children to chairs so they wouldn't run away. It was horrifying. After a brief press conference, Jane Whaley never spoke to the media on the record ever again. So why did she pick me as her first interview since 1995?

I asked Jane, "Why me?" She told me that God spoke to her after listening to my show. But why now? Jane says she wanted to contact me but said that she didn’t know how to reach me.

During my visit, Sam Whaley told me that the closest they’ve come to talking to the media was when a BBC producer approached her about doing a story. She said he was very nice, just like me. But in the end, they decided it wasn’t right. Then, an A&E documentary crew asked to interview Jane and bring cameras into the church. Jane flat out said no because they weren’t interested in the truth. Her lawyers told me that the TV crew and former members showed up unannounced to church member owned businesses and caused a spectacle. 

My interview with cult leader Jane Whaley of the Word of Faith Fellowship

After the 3-hour service was over, Jane and I walked back to her office. Jane Whaley sat next to me. To my left sat her husband Sam Whaley. And across the room sat her two attorneys Mark Norris and Josh Farmer. Without ever even asking a question, Jane began to tell me about every controversial issue facing the church. She told me that she knows nothing about unemployment (Jane's referring to the recent the guilty pleas in the unemployment fraud cases.) When I asked her about the Brazilian slaves, she told me that some of the Brazilian's making these claims are entitled and lazy. During the meeting, Jane performed a blasting prayer for me. She also told me that she's gearing for a great confrontation and that they're ready for the end of times.

 

National Domestic Violence Hotline

I also want to take the time to thank the former members who have listened to the show and have written me emails, facebook messages about their experience at the Word of Faith Fellowship. It just reinforces that what I’m doing is important.

 

Also, I know there are current members reading this right now. If you feel you’re in danger or just need someone to talk to, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233. They’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They can help you find a place to stay near Spindale while you figure things out. Or you can contact the Citizens against corruption and abuse at area code 828-289-7923.


Promos

Southern Gothic

Minds of Madness

 



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Nov 14, 2018
S307: The Prophet - Meet Jane Whaley Part 2
3306

Previously on Pretend Radio, I came face-to-face with pastor Jane Whaley of the Word of Faith Fellowship. When I arrived, we met in her office for a few minutes before the church service began. I was surprised by everyone's friendliness. Suddenly, the music started playing and we knew it was time to head into the main sanctuary. Jane Whaley held my hand as we walked down a long hallway towards the service. As we inched closer to the sanctuary, the music got louder and louder—it was ear drum busting loud. Jane and I walked in like rock stars. Her attorney escorted me to the second row behind Jane and her husband Sam Whaley.

Word of Faith Fellowship sanctuary in Spindale, North Carolina Word of Faith Fellowship sanctuary in Spindale, North Carolina

Was the church service real or just a big show?

The service started around 9:30am and ended around 12:30pm. It was a musical event filled with praise and worship. Old women were jumping up and down in their high heels, old men were singing as loud as they could, and the children appeared to be happy. Former members say that this is exactly what Jane Whaley wanted me to see. According to them, this service was tailored specifically for me.

 


Bonus episode: Why did Paul McCartney's drummer join a cult?

In the 70s Joe English played drums for Paul McCartney and Wings. Today, he's a member of the Word of Faith Fellowship in Spindale, North Carolina.

 

Joe English played drums for Paul McCartney and Wings. Today he's a member of the Word of Faith Fellowship cult.

Joe English played drums with Paul McCartney and Wings. Today, he's a devoted member at the Word of Faith Fellowship church in Spindale, North Carolina. I met Joe English during my visit. Hear how Jane Whaley saved him from a life of drugs and rock n' roll.

Listen to this exclusive Patreon episode.

 

 



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Nov 07, 2018
S306: The Prophet - Meet Jane Whaley Part 1
1987
As far as I know, I'm the first journalist who has ever interviewed pastor Jane Whaley. Heck, I might be the only member of the media to have attended church service. How was I able to pull this off? The short answer is, I have no idea.

In fact, when the executive producer of the upcoming A&E series on Word of Faith Fellowship found out about my exclusive interview, he gave me a call. He asked me, "I just want to know one thing... how did you do it?" I told him, "I just asked nicely?"

(UPDATE: A&E pulls the docu-series the night before it was scheduled to air)


My first contact with Jane Whaley

The last people to get an invitation to the Word of Faith Fellowship got the cops called on them. However, that didn't stop me from contacting Jane. I have Jane Whaley's email address and intend to use it. Besides, what's the worst thing that could happen? Get arrested for trespassing?

 
 


True Crime Podcast Festival | Chicago 2019

Also, I am excited to announce that Pretend Radio is going to be attending the first annual True Crime Podcast Festival on July 13, 2019 in Chicago! Trust me, start planning now. It’s worth traveling to. This is your chance to mingle with podcasters you listen to regularly. There will also be live episode recordings as well as panel discussions. In fact, I’m speaking in one of them.

Some of the shows registered are All Crime No Cattle, Criminology, Canadian True Crime, Mugshot, Swindled, Sword and Scale, and so many more. You won’t want to miss this.

Go to the website TCPF2019.com to find information on tickets and the hotel. Prices do go up the closer we get to the event so you won’t want to wait. When you buy your ticket, make sure you mention Pretend Radio on the ticket registration survey. This is going to be a blast. I can’t wait to meet everyone at the True Crime Podcast Festival! For more information, see the show notes.



Many people have been writing me and sharing their stories. If you have a story to share, shoot me an email at info@pretendradio.org or follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Our theme music was composed by Joe Basile with thechicken.net.

 




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Oct 31, 2018
S305: The Prophet - Brazil and the Word of Faith Fellowship
2142

Did you know that the Word of Faith Fellowship has nearly 2,000 members internationally? They have affiliate churches all over the world including Brazil, Sweden, Scotland, and other countries.

Brazil is by far the biggest territory ruled under Jane Whaley’s kingdom. They have churches in two southeastern Brazilian cities. The first church is in Soa Joaquim de Bicas which is about 6 hours north of Rio de Janeiro. They also have second church in Franco de Rocha which is an hour outside of Sao Paulo.

Jane conquers Brazil and offers them salvation

For a few lucky Brazilians, Jane blessed them with more than just salvation—an opportunity to live in the United States.  Ana Albuquerque told the Associated Press that when she first arrived in Spindale, church members showered her with love. She said, "The first time you go, they treat you well. But afterwards, they start treating you bad.” Ana says things turned ugly fast. She claims she worked full time as a teacher’s assistant and baby sat church member’s children at night–all without pay. Then the physical abuse started. Ana says that Jane and another minister spanked her with a wooden stick. She told the AP they blasted her with a screaming prayer because she was “unclean” and possessed by the devil. And we’re not talking a small tap on the butt kind of spank. Ana says the beatings lasted for at least 40 minutes. She finally was allowed to return to Brazil and has since left the church.


16 Brazilians come forward

“It was a horror living there,” says Rebecca Mello. Her dreams of freedom quickly turned into a nightmare. She told the Associated Press that she was brought to the US in 2009 on a student visa. Immediately after she got here, church leaders took her passports and her money, and was quickly put to work. "We’re made to get up early, make the kids breakfast, cook, do their beds, pick up the the laundry.” Thiago Silva says, "We were there working, but we never got paid. If you’re not paid for something, even for your food, I would say that you’re a slave."

All in all, 16 Brazilian’s have come forward to share their personal story of abuse and enslavement.

 
True Crime Podcast Festival | Chicago 2019

Also, I am excited to announce that Pretend Radio is going to be attending the first annual True Crime Podcast Festival on July 13, 2019 in Chicago! Trust me, start planning now. It’s worth traveling to. This is your chance to mingle with podcasters you listen to regularly. There will also be live episode recordings as well as panel discussions. In fact, I’m speaking in one of them.

Go to the website TCPF2019.com to find information on tickets and the hotel.


Many people have been writing me and sharing their stories. If you have a story to share, shoot me an email at info@pretendradio.org or follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Today’s episode was edited by the talented Molly Clay. Our theme music was composed by Joe Basile with thechicken.net.






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Oct 24, 2018
S304: The Prophet - Allegations of Abuse and Corruption
2074

When Nancy Burnette was appointed by the courts to be a guardian ad litem, she knew her job wasn’t going to be easy. A guardian ad litem is someone who represents kids in the foster care system. It’s her job to place children in homes with the right parents. If she doesn’t get right, her decision can cause lasting damage on these vulnerable children.

This was a challenge Nancy was willing to take.

So, put yourself in Nancy’s shoes for a second. If you had to place a child in the custody of the Word of Faith Fellowship family, what would you do?

This episode explores the series of questions surrounding the Word of Faith and accusations about their grip on local government. For example, did you know the Jane Whaley’s son in law, Frank Webster, was an assistant state prosecutor at a nearby county? There are also accusations that a local social workers undermined abuse investigations at the Word of Faith Fellowship? The list of accusations go on and on.

In this episode titled “Allegations of Abuse and Corruption,” I’ll do my best to describe some of the political controversy surrounding the Word of Faith Fellowship.

 

-------

See the front page article on Pretend Radio and the church's response:

http://pretendradio.org/word-of-faith-fellowship-prophet-allegations-of-child-abuse-and-corruption/

-------

Also, I am excited to announce that Pretend Radio is going to be attending the first annual True Crime Podcast Festival on July 13, 2019 in Chicago! Trust me, start planning now, it’s worth traveling to. This is your chance to mingle with podcasters you listen to regularly. There will also be live episode recordings as well as panel discussions. In fact, I’m speaking at one of them.  

Some of the shows registered are All Crime No Cattle, Criminology, Canadian True Crime, Mugshot, Swindled, Sword and Scale, and so many more. You won’t want to miss this.


Go to the website TCPF2019.com to find information on tickets and the hotel. Prices do go up the closer we get to the event so you won’t want to wait. When you buy your ticket, make sure you mention Pretend Radio on the ticket registration survey. This is going to be a blast. I can’t wait to meet everyone at the True Crime Podcast Festival! For more information, see the show notes.

 

—PROMO—

Swindled

Framed: An investigative story

 

—MUSIC—

Thechicken.net

 



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Oct 17, 2018
S303: The Prophet - Former Cult Members Speak Out
1572

On April 7th, 2018, more than a dozen former Word of Faith Fellowship members reunited at the Spindale House in Rutherford County, North Carolina.

It was an opportunity for former members to answer lingering questions for the citizens in the community. But in reality, it was probably an event designed to make good television for the documentary crew filming the whole thing. When I walked into the room, I expected a small gathering with a few chairs. Instead, I counted 6 professional video cameras and crew to match it. It was a huge production. I soon learned that today’s community event was part of an upcoming A&E documentary series on the Word of Faith Fellowship. Each former member in the panel sat behind a microphone provided by the A&E crew. About 80 to 100 people were in attendance—including current members of the Word of Faith Fellowship. The room was tense.

John Cooper, former Word of Faith Fellowship Former Members speaks about his experience with the Department of Social Services in Rutherford, County.


Survivors speak out against Pastor Jane Whaley

This episode was especially hard to write because there were so many stories to tell. But there was one story that stood out more than the others. Former Word of Faith Fellowship member Jamey Anderson delivered an impassioned speech about leaving the church. He lamented about being cut off from his family and missing his own grandfather’s funeral. In the audience sat his mother with an emotionless expression on her face. You see, Jamey’s mother is still a member at the church and has cut all communication with her son. Jamey called her out and said, “I’m very happy to see that whatever I've done has motivated her to show up today. So it's at least good to see her.”

Jamey used his time behind the microphone to respond to his mother’s 30 minute YouTube video. In the video, his mother Patti, his grandmother Dot, and his step-sister Allison describe why they think Jamey’s a liar and justify why they have disowned him.

 

---SUBSCRIBE---

Apple Podcasts

Google Play

 Stitcher

 Spotify

 

---PROMO---

Let's Talk About Sects

Killafornia Dreaming

 

---MUSIC---

Thechicken.net



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Oct 10, 2018
S302: The Prophet - Who is Jane Whaley?
2075

Who is Jane Whaley?

Jane Whaley is the pastor at the Word of Faith Fellowship—a conservative, charismatic Christian church.

Those who have left the church describe her as a ruthless cult leader. But, we don't know much about her. Where did she come from? How did she assume power? I spoke with John Huddle, a former Word of Faith Fellowship member, to learn more about Jane Whaley's past.

To learn more visit pretendradio.org

 

--Promo--

All Crime No Cattle

 

--Music--

Thechicken.net

 



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Oct 03, 2018
S301: The Prophet - Word of Faith Fellowship Revisited
3579

Season 3: The Prophet - Word of Faith Fellowship Revisited

I’m back with a whole new season of Pretend Radio. But this time it’s going to be a little different. Instead of telling you a different story each episode, I decided to do a serialize season where I tell you a single story, one episode at a time. So what is it about? It’s about the first episode I aired on this show—the Word of Faith Fellowship church.

Back in season one, I met up with a man who says he escaped the cult. His name is John Cooper. I contacted him and asked "Hey, do you want to meet up? I’m thinking about starting a podcast and would like to tell your story."

So, we just met up at a park in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. At this point, I didn’t know what this podcast was all about. All I knew was that he was part of a religious sect. And what he told me that day in that park blew my mind. But in the end, I feel like I didn’t do that story justice. It was one guy’s story. I needed to go out to the other side of the state, where the Word of Faith Fellowship is located, and do a little more digging. So, I got in my car and drove west. After I spending the whole day in Spindale, North Carolina, I thought to myself, there is no way I keep everything I just learned in one episode.

If season one was about John cooper, season 3 is all about the town of Spindale.

The episode you’re about to listen to is my first 3 episodes rolled into one. And I’m going to stitch them together by playing some ads for some non-profits organizations. And at the end of the episode there’s a preview of the new season.

Now many of you have already heard this story, but trust me, even I had to go back and listen to these episodes. Once the season starts, I’m not going to spend a lot setting things up. We’re just going to get right to it.

If you’re new to Pretend Radio, well this is a great place to start.

Let me tell you, it’s pretty crazy. I got deeper into this story than any other journalist. The BBC has tried and failed. The Associated Press tried and they couldn’t get in. Even A&E is producing a documentary on the WOFF and they didn’t get the access I got.

 

So enjoy this flashback episode and revisit The Prophet from season one. And get ready for the season because it’s coming out very soon.

 

 



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Sep 28, 2018
S213: The Hijacker, Part 2 - Martin McNally
2639

Martin McNally needed some cash, so what did he do? He hijacked an American Airlines flight with 90 passengers on board.

If you haven’t listened to part one, check that out first.

Today’s episode, picks up where we last left off. It’s 1972, and Martin McNally just hijacked a plane heading to Tulsa, Oklahoma. His plan was simple… Demand a half a million dollars, jump out of the plane, and disappear into the darkness of night.

After 15 seconds of freefall, McNally pulls the ripcord. He begins to spin out of control. The parachute whips out and blasts him in the face. McNally looks up at the canopy as it pulls him away from the Earth. Then he looks down, and he realizes that the money bag slipped out of his hands.

What now? He’s beat up, he lost all the money, and by the time he reaches the ground, there will be hundreds of FBI agents searching for him. What’s the point? McNally, considers ending it all.

You definitely want to check out the rest of this story.

This story was produced by Chris Knittel with the Burner Phone Podcast and was written and edited by me, Javier Leiva.


LINKS

Chief of Police for Peru Indiana picks up Martin McNally | New York Times Article

Copter Hijacker Killed by Pilot Had Car With Weapons | New York Times Article

Garrett Trapnell | Wiki


FEATURED PROMO

Already Gone

Fall Line Podcast


MUSIC

The Pretend Radio theme song was composed by Joe Basile with thechicken.net

Additional music by Blue Dot Session



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Jul 24, 2018
S212: The Hijacker, Part 1 - Martin McNally
2592

Martin McNally is going to hijack this plane and nobody, not even the FBI, is going to stop him.

 

In today’s episode, Martin McNally recounts his 1972 hijacking of an American Airlines flight heading to Tulsa, Oklahoma. His plan was simple—sneak a submachine gun onboard a 727 jet, demand a half-million dollars in cash, and escape with a parachute. And he almost got away with it.

  

Martin McNally’s story is gripping and will have you at the edge of your seat. He was inspired by the infamous hijacker D.B. Cooper. But unlike D.B. Cooper, we actually know how McNally’s story ends.

 

As you can imagine, his plan didn’t go smoothly. The pilot had to return to St. Louis to get the mailbags full of money. After hours of negotiations with the FBI, there was a crew change and an FBI agent, dressed as crew members, snuck on board. Then, as the plane was preparing for take off, a drunk passenger smashed his Cadillac into the nose of the plane.

 

By now, it should have been over. But McNally persisted and demanded a new plane. Once up in the air, McNally jumped into the darkness and disappeared with the cash.

 

This story was produced by Chris Knittel with the Burner Phone Podcast and was written by me, Javier Leiva.

 

---

FEATURED PROMO

 

Oh No! Lit Class

 

Killafornia Dreaming

 

---

MUSIC

 

The Pretend Radio theme song was composed by Joe Basile with thechicken.net

 

Additional music by Blue Dot Session

 



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Jul 18, 2018
S211: The Jolly Roger Social Club
2275

You may remember Sharon McConnell-Dickerson from episode 8 titled “The Sculptor.” You know, the blind artist who casts the faces of dying blues musicians. When we first recorded that episode, she told me a story that quite frankly was hard to believe. It sounded like something out of a movie. In fact, it should be turned into a movie. It’s one of the most sadistic con artist stories I’ve ever heard. And warning, this episode is pretty dark. So if you don’t like that kinda stuff, you’ve been warned.

This is the story of Wild Bill.

 

Image result for william holbert

Wild Bill, who’s real name is William Holbert, had long blonde curly hair and frequently wore a viking helmet. He was 6 feet tall and looked like one of those guys at the gym who’s pumped up on steroids. Wild Bill was also the owner of a Panamanian bar he liked to call the Jolly Rogers Social Club. The bar, which sat off the side of his island property, was a down and dirty watering hole, known for loud parties and the occasional drug use. The decor was simple. Wild Bill flew a flag with skull and bones. And the bar's motto says it all—90% of our members survive.

William Holbert, and his wife Laura Reece, were not only the island bar owners. They also had a keen eye for real estate. The strange thing is, every time they closed a deal, the person selling them the property would disappear.

Sharon McConnell-Dickerson shares with us the story about her friend Bo Icler and the real estate con that ripped them apart. 

 

-----

To learn more about this story, please check out the book titled, "The Jolly Roger Social Club" by Nick Foster. 

 

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Featured Promos:

Moms and Murder

The Murder in my Family

 

-----

Theme music composed by Joe Basile with thechicken.net

Additional music by Poddington Bear

 

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This episode was written and produced by Javier Leiva

 

If you would like to support the show, please leave us a rating on iTunes or donate $1 to our Patreon Page

Also, check out our sweet t-shirts

 

Pretend White T-Shirt Front

 

 



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Jul 04, 2018
Pretend Radio Anniversary Bonus Episode
2266

Guess what? Pretend Radio turns one year old this month. So I thought it would be cool to replay some old guest interviews I've done on other shows. 

 

(01:00) Generation Why Podcast Interview - I talk about Vester Flanagan, the reporter who murdered the news crew live on television

(14:23) Maurer Glass Podcast Interview - Learn how I find my guests and behind the scenes insights

(30:22) The Live Canary Interview - I traded a story for a beer

 

I'll be back soon with a new episode. In the meantime, spread the word. 

 



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Jun 19, 2018
S210: The Babalawo - Secrets of Santeria
2795

Today's episode "The Babalawo" is about Santeria… the faith, not the song.


Unlike the pop tune, not a lot of people know about this mysterious religion. Santería, also known as Regla de Ochá, La Regla de
Ifá, or Lucumí, is an Afro-Cuban religion that means the worship of saints.

So, you maybe asking yourself, “Javier, where’s the pretend angle here?” Well, this religion in particular gives me the heebie jeebies. I feel like people visit these Santeria priests like if they’re fortune tellers. Are they just taking advantage of people’s emotions or am I discriminating on this faith? Spoiler alert… I’m pretty sure I’m discriminating against their faith.

But, I’m better than that right? Are my fears real or is this just a bunch of urban legends? Well, there’s only one way to find out. I need to travel to my hometown of Miami and embed myself in the Santeria community.  

First, I had to find a babalawo. What’s a babalawo? A babalawo is a Santeria priest who acts as a medium channeling the prophecy from the Orishas. Orishas are spirits who are a manifestation of the supreme God Olodumare. In this episode, we’ll get into the history and origins of Santeria. I also talk with a Santeria priest and priestess to learn more about their secret rituals.

 

-----LIES, LIES, LIES-----

Has someone ever lied to you? Have you ever lied to protect someone else? Send me your personal story and I'll post it on my Patreon channel. 

https://www.patreon.com/pretendradio

 

If you'd like to submit a story, leave me a voicemail at 919-867-1871 or record your story on your smart phone's voice memo app and email it to me at javier@pretendradio.org

-----MUSIC-----

Theme Music composed by Joe Basile from The Chicken Music and Sound Design. Find out more about Joe and The Chicken at www.thechicken.net

Additional music by Podington Bear

-----PROMOS-----

Promos by:

Beyond Bizarre Podcast



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Jun 06, 2018
S209: The Good Cop, Bad Cop
2379
How does a good cop turn bad? For Ruben Palomares, a former corrupt LAPD Rampart division officer, the process was slow. He went from receiving LAPD’s highest honor to becoming one of the most corrupt cops in US history.

Officer Palomares’ story begins with his first undercover assignment. In the late 1980s there was this show called 21 Jump Street. Johnny Depp starred in it. It was about undercover cops, who pretended to be students, in order to bust drug dealers in schools.

But did you know that back in the 1994, the Los Angeles police department juvenile narcotics unit actually recruited young officers to infiltrate classrooms in order to investigate drug dealers? They couldn’t just get any cop to fill this undercover role. They needed a fresh face who could blend in with the students. So, they approached officer Ruben Palomares.

In 1995, Ruben Palomares got transferred to LAPD’s Rampart Division where he continued to work undercover cases. He was specifically assigned to the anti-gang unit called CRASH. CRASH is an acronym for the Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums. This is when Ruben’s fate will be decided.
-----BURNER PHONE PODCAST-----


You can find Burner Phone Podcast on Apple Podcast and Twitter.


-----MUSIC-----

Theme Music composed by Joe Basile from The Chicken Music and Sound Design. Find out more about Joe and The Chicken at www.thechicken.net





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May 22, 2018
S208: The Stranger
2052
A lie is only powerful if you choose to believe it. So why do we fall for it every time? In this episode, we’ll hear four different stories. Each describes a tall tale, so persistent, that it’s hard to imagine someone keeping all the lies straight in their head.

 

Each one of these stories reminds me of the movie The Truman Show. It seems like everyone I spoke with lived in a world carefully created just for them.

 

Now it’s time to ask you. Have you ever been lied to? Or have you ever told a lie in order to do the right thing? I invite you to share your story on Pretend Radio. If selected, your story will be featured as bonus content on our Patreon channel. Patreon is a way that you can support the show. And who knows, your story could be featured on the main show.

 

If you would like to share your story, record your story using your smartphone voice recording app and email your audio to javier@pretendradio.org. Or leave me a voice mail at (919) 867-1871. Please try to keep your story under 10 minutes.

 

Don’t forget to leave me your name and a way to contact you.

 

I can’t wait to listen to your stories.

 

Theme Music composed by Joe Basile from The Chicken Music and Sound Design. Find out more about Joe and The Chicken at www.thechicken.net

 

Additional music by:

Podington Bear - Bambi

Podington Bear - Twosome

Podington Bear - Bumble

Podington Bear - Suppose it is


 Thank you to Steven Pacheco with the Trace Evidence Podcast and Nicki T with the Strictly Homicide Podcast for partnering with me on this episode. And I’d love to thank Carly Nichols and Andrea Hill for listening and taking the time to talk with me.



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May 09, 2018
S207: The Gambler Part 2 - Art Schlichter
1264
Previously on Pretend Radio, we learned how Art Schlichter’s gambling habits destroyed Anita Barney life. She went from being the wealthy widow of a Wendy’s CEO to becoming broke and struggling to pay her light bill. In part two of The Gambler, we’re going to talk about how Anita went from being Art Schlichter’s victim to his accomplice.  You can find Anita Barney's memoir titled "Quarterback Sneak: Exposing the Criminal Game Plan of Art Schlichter" on Amazon.

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Mar 13, 2018
S206: The Gambler Part 1 - Art Schlichter
1276

This is the story of disgraced Ohio State quarterback Art Schlichter.


In order to understand
Art Schlichter’s crimes, you first have to understand how his story ends. Anita Barney, heiress and widow of a former Wendy’s CEO, lost every single penny her husband left her. 

Art Schlichter and Anita Barney

How did it happen? Art Schlichter gambled away her entire fortune. 



 

This episode was written and produced by Javier Leiva

Music by:

Cylinder Eight by Chris Zabriskie

Careless Morning, Bivly, Pxl Eventuat, Pxl Cray, Pxl Ultra by Blue Dot Sessions

Bittersweet, Pounded Piano by Podington Bear

No More Trap by Audiobinger

 

 




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Mar 07, 2018
S205: The Reporter - Vester Flanagan
1679
Warning, this episode may be disturbing for some listeners. It describes a shooting that resulted in the death of two people. While this story is not technically about a mass shooting, it has every characteristic of one. This is the story of Bryce Williams, the reporter who murdered Alison Parker and Adam Ward live on television. It turns out Bryce Williams is not his real name. Bryce Williams is just a pseudonym for his on air personality. The killer’s real name is Vester Flanagan. 

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Feb 28, 2018
S204: The Taker
1598

Karl comes from a long line of con men. He says both his grandfather and father were swindlers. It's only natural that Karl slipped into the family business.

In today's episode, Karl talks about bribing corrupt company building managers. He says he sold them cheap light bulbs, trash can liners, and cleaning supplies at a premium price. In exchange for buying overpriced products, Karl would send these building managers gifts and cash.  

He made lots of money working as a B2B telemarketer. He eventually started his own company doing the same scheme. Karl admits that what he was doing was unethical, but surely it wasn't illegal. Finally, he got his answer when the FBI and the Postal Inspector's office showed with a subpoena.

Jerri Williams, the FBI agent who busted him, says she could have locked him up right then and there—but she had bigger plans for Karl.



----

Special thanks to Jerri Williams for contributing her episode titled, "Karl LNU."

 

This episode was written and produced by Javier Leiva and Jerri Williams.

 

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 http://jerriwilliams.com/cooperating-witness-telemarketing-fraud/

You can learn more about Jerri Williams at jerriwilliams.com

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This episode includes promos from the following independent podcasts:

-Maurer Glass Podcast

-The Breakers Podcast

 



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Feb 20, 2018
S203: The Boy and the Girl
1232
Candis Cox and her husband Adam live in North Carolina. This is their love story. Their story is unremarkable in many ways. They met at a bar, went on a date, and eventually married after years of dating. What makes this story special is listening to them retell it. But love doesn’t come without sacrifice. This is a story about being your true self, even when the world is making you pretend to be someone else. The boy and the girl was written and produced by Javier Leiva and Wendy Gatlin.

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Feb 14, 2018
S202: The Snake Oil Salesman Part 2 - Curing Autism
1606
Last time, I spoke with a group of women who drink a bleach-type chemical that they claim cures everything from cancer to depression.  I soon discovered that parents are forcefully giving bleach enemas to kids with autism. In this episode, I interview Kerri Rivera, the woman leading this movement, and find out why she thinks this chlorine dioxide treatment is the cure for autism. Promos: Moms & Murder - http://momsandmurder.com/ Mirths & Monsters - https://klmay1973.podbean.com/

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Feb 07, 2018
S201: The Snake Oil Salesman Part 1 - Curing cancer & depression
1519
I stumbled upon a group of people who self-medicate with chlorine dioxide, a bleach like substance. They claim it cures everything from headaches, malaria, HIV, & cancer.  In this episode, you'll hear from the man who discovered the "miracle cure" and from the people who take it.  Thanks to Chris Cogswell w/ the Mad Scientist Podcast & Dr. Zuckerman with the TOXnow Podcast.  toxnow.org/ themadscientistpodcast.com/ The Disgraceland Podcast disgracelandpod.libsyn.com/

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Jan 31, 2018
S111: The Bigamist
1997
Mary Turner Thomas says she married a bigamist. She claims her husband, William Allen Jordan, was involved with 8 different women and fathered 13 kids. At one point, he had two wives, two fiances and a girlfriend on both sides of the Atlantic. William Allen Jordan and Mary Turner Thomson How in the world did Mary not know about these other relationships? How can one man pull off a con this big? It's easy to dismiss Mary as being naive. However, William Jordan was a skilled con man. Once you listen to how they met, and fell in love, it's easy to understand how he could steal her heart. Little did she know he will eventually steal much more than that. Mary says that William conned her out of £200,000. How did he do it? He led her to believe that he was a contractor for the CIA and terrorist were holding his family for ransom. As unbelievable as this sounds, he crafted evidence to back up his claims. Listen to Mary Turner Thomas describe the tactics he used to con her and learn how he finally got caught. This story was originally reported by my friend Lanie Hobbs at the True Crime Fan Club. I highly recommend you check out their show. You can find Mary’s book titled The Bigamist on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Bigamist-Story-Husbands-Ultimate-Betrayal/dp/1845963474 She is also on Twitter: http://twitter.com/TheBigamistBook or at http://maryturnerthomson.com/book-inner



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Sep 13, 2017
S110. The Pretender Part 2 - Undercover FBI Agent Marc Ruskin
1560
The Pretender - Marc Ruskin FBI undercover agent Remember the name Marc Ruskin: because if you run into him, chances are he will introduce himself as Alex Perez, H. Marc Renard, or Sal Morelli – just a few of his FBI undercover personas. Marc Ruskin started his career as an assistant DA in Brooklyn and left it all behind to join the FBI Academy. It didn’t take him long to become an FBI undercover agent. His first big undercover case landed him in Wall Street busting up trading scams. That case went down in flames when a former colleague recognized his true identity and blew his cover. His next assignments proved to be much more dangerous. Marc embedded himself with mobsters, corrupt public officials, terrorists, and powerful drug dealers. Of course, we can’t cover his entire 27 year career here on this podcast. For that you’ll need to check out his new book titled “The Pretender.” It’s a great read. What we will do is talk about a few cases that were so intense, it had me grip the book so tight that I almost fused the pages together. Marc Ruskin’s next assignment was to bust up a fraudulent documents scheme in New York City. I'm not talking about fake IDs – there’s a difference. These fraudulent IDs are the real thing. If a police runs a fraudulent driver’s license, it actually checks out in their database. Marc told me terrorists, mob guys, fugitives were being arrested and had all kinds of real documents in their wallets under fake names. The FBI didn't have any leads. First, they had to find the source of these fraudulent documents. Marc says that some of these fraudulent driver’s licenses were selling for as much as a thousand dollars on the streets.  It wasn’t until a tip from a twenty-something-year old man named John Sultan that led the FBI to a shabby travel agency in the Bronx called Holy Land Travel. The travel agency was a front led by Palestinian immigrant named Mahmoud Noubani. The Pretender Marc Ruskin FBI Undercover You can find The Pretender on Amazon.com or at your local bookstore. Also a special thanks out to St. Martin’s Press for letting me share Marc’s story with you. Buy the book on Amazon: http://a.co/aIkzL3e You can also follow Marc Ruskin on Twitter  https://twitter.com/mhruskin Also, listen to Moms and Murder: http://momsandmurder.com/



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Sep 05, 2017
S109: The Pretender Part 1 - Undercover FBI Agent Marc Ruskin
1166
Before Marc Ruskin was an undercover FBI agent, he was an assistant DA in Brooklyn. Why did he give up his career as a powerful attorney to join the FBI academy? Well, in order to prosecute criminals, you have to catch them first. It didn’t take long for Marc to become an undercover agent. For 27 years, he slipped into various different characters busting criminals ranging from drug dealers to Wall Street insiders. At one point, Marc was juggling three or four cases at a time – switching back and forth between identities. He wrote a book about his time at the FBI appropriately titled “The Pretender.” When I first discovered his book I immediately shot him a message. Luckily for me, he agreed to share some of his stories. In the late 80s and early 90s, San Juan Puerto Rico had one of the highest murder rates of any US city. Some of the violence can be blamed on the Machetero, a separatist group actively trying to make Puerto Rico and independent country.   Marc: "So I had gone from being an attorney in New York where the biggest thing I had to worry about was a papercut. Now I was in the streets of San Juan Puerto Rico as a combatant to the Macheteros. We learned at one point that the Macheteros had a plot to assassinate an FBI agent. The problem was, we didn’t know who the FBI agent was." Listen to my interview with Marc Ruskin on part 1 of "The Pretender" on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.  You can find The Pretender on Amazon.com or at your local bookstore. Also a special thanks out to St. Martin’s Press for letting me share Marc’s story with you. https://www.amazon.com/Pretender-My-Life-Undercover-FBI/dp/1250068630/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1504062442&sr=8-1&keywords=the+pretender+ruskin Also, you can follow Marc Ruskin on Twitter http://twitter.com/mhruskin Also, listen to my new favorite podcast at: Moms and Murder: http://momsandmurder.com/ Pints and puzzles: http://pintsandpuzzles.libsyn.com/ Pleasing Terrors http://pleasingterrors.com/ Twisted Podcast: http://www.twistedpodcast.com/ Couple Money: http://couplemoneypodcast.com/ Triangle Tactical Podcast: https://triangletactical.net/



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Aug 27, 2017
S108: The Sculptor
1391
Sharon McConnell-Dickerson is preserving the Mississippi Delta blues with her own two hands. She's doing it by creating molds of some of the most influential blues musicians of our time. The lifecasts include a mask of Bobby “Blue” Bland, Little Milton from Memphis, “Honeyboy” Edwards from Chicago, and Pinetop Perkins from Clarksdale, just to name a few – almost 60 musicians total. http://mcconnelldickersonart.com/blues-lifecast



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Aug 23, 2017
S107: The Real Estate Agent - Part 2 - Todd Kohlhepp
1367
South Carolina serial killer Todd Kohlhepp confesses to the Superbike Motorsports mass murder. This is part 2 of "The Real Estate Agent." I suggest starting with part 1. It was a Thursday morning. Kohlhepp walked into the Superbike motorsports store and started scoping out the place. He’s not shopping for motorcycle. He’s looking for his next victims. Kohlhepp: "I got there. Not everybody was there. I went in sat on a few bikes, did my usual. Basically buying for time. And doing my best to make sure the paying customers are not there. Collateral damage is not cool. I chose a time when it was not busy. A time after work when I would have a lot of people in there. I did not want to shoot other people. Finally all four show up. From the sound of it nobody else was there." The four people Kohlhepp is referencing are Brian Lucas, Chris Sherbert, Scott Ponder, and Scott’s mother Beverly Guy. Investigator: "When you say all four?" Kohlhepp: "All the four people who work at the bike store. The mechanic, the mom. I was not going for the mom but she was there at the time. Working there. She was thrown into it. She was not a primary target." The store finally cleared. Kohlhepp was the only customer in the store. He tells one of the employees that he’s interested in a certain bike. Kohlhepp: "I cleared that room in under 30 seconds. You guys would have been proud. I’m sorry but you guys would have been proud." This was the crime Kohlhepp got away with. Nobody was looking for him. Why would he confess? SUBSCRIBE NOW Apple Podcasts: tiny.cc/PretendApplePodcast Google Play: tiny.cc/PretendGooglePlay Stitcher: tiny.cc/PretendStitcher







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Aug 10, 2017
S106: The Real Estate Agent Part 1 - Todd Kohlhepp
1647
This week’s story is about self-professed serial killer Todd Kohlhepp. What’s terrifying about Todd Kohlhepp? He’s not the type of serial killer you see in the movies. He doesn’t collect body parts in his fridge. He doesn’t taunt the media with riddles. He seems like a normal guy who owns a successful real estate company. Listen as his last surviving victim describes how he killed her boyfriend and locked her up in a shipping container for weeks. And that's just the beginning.

 

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Aug 09, 2017
S105: Birth of a Con Man Part 2 - Opioid epidemic
1178
Previously on Pretend Radio we witnessed the birth of a con man. A man started his criminal career as a street thug and worked his way up to car insurance scam artist. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jul 27, 2017
S104: Birth of a Con Man Part 1
1407
In part one of the Birth of a Con Man, hear how man became a career criminal—a con-man. First, he started scamming auto insurance companies. Then the con got bigger and more elaborate. You see, that’s how it works. Once a con man gets away with it, they have to do it again. But the next time, the con is bigger and more complex. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jul 25, 2017
S103: The Prophet Part 3 - Word of Faith Fellowship
1316
In the Prophet part 3, we’ll look at the Word of Faith Fellowship from a completely different lens. We’ll hear from current sect members and get their version of the story. Plus, you'll hear the latest on trial against five ministers accused of beating and kidnapping Michael Fenner. If you enjoy the show, consider donating a dollar: https://patreon.com/user?u=5971503&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&utm_campaign=creatorshare2 Follow us on: Twitter: @pretend_radio Facebook: www.facebook.com/PretendRadioPodcast




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Jun 22, 2017
S102: The Prophet Part 2 - Word of Faith Fellowship
1382
John Cooper remembers one of the Word of Faith Fellowship ministers commanding him to beat his wife. He also describes his family’s attempt to what he describes as a cult. Then it finally happened. John escaped. We’ll listen to secret recordings of pastor Jane Whaley trying to lure him back.

 




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Jun 20, 2017
S101: The Prophet Part 1 - Word of Faith Fellowship
1471
The Prophet part 1 explores The Word of Faith Fellowship. You will hear about the accused cult leader, Pastor Jane Whaley, who many inside the sect believe is a prophet with direct communication with God. John Cooper describes the day 20 to 30 sect members surrounded and attacked him. He also shares secret recordings of Pastor Jane Whaley commanding someone to throw someone down to the ground. Plus, you’ll hear “blasting prayers” — ear-piercing crying sessions meant to cast out demons.




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Jun 16, 2016