The Perfect Scam

By AARP

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Description

Learn how to protect yourself from scammers. Hear compelling personal stories from scam victims, con artists and leading experts that pull back the curtain on how scammers operate.

Episode Date
A Hiker’s Trail of Lies: Part 1
25:18

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

Sep 14, 2018
The Godfather of the Dark Web
29:17

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

Sep 07, 2018
Brooke Astor: Famous Socialite Robbed
25:51

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

Aug 31, 2018
MSNBC’s Richard Lui Fights for His Dad
27:15

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

Aug 24, 2018
French Psychic Scams the World: Part 2
25:21

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

Aug 17, 2018
French Psychic Scams the World: Part 1
25:18

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

Aug 10, 2018
Scammers Drained the Life out of Our Mother: Part 2
24:38

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

Aug 03, 2018
Scammers Drained the Life out of Our Mother: Part 1
27:20

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

Jul 27, 2018
Nominate Us and Take the ‘Perfect Scam’ Quiz!
13:50

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

Jun 29, 2018
Frank’s Favorite Scams & Tips From Fraud Watch Network
26:04

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

Jun 22, 2018
A Scammer Tells All
31:32

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

Jun 15, 2018
Elaine’s Gemstone Jerk
29:17

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

Jun 08, 2018
Ann’s Credit Card Re-Scam
31:04

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

Jun 01, 2018
George & Sandra’s Accident Scam
27:58

George and Sandra are retirees in Santa Monica, Calif. On a typical afternoon drive, they are confronted by a driver who claims George and Sandra hit his car. He demands that they pull over, and when a second driver pulls up claiming to have witnessed the accident, George and Sandra are shocked. But these two aren’t gullible. They tell the drivers to follow them, and when the fraudsters realize they are being taken to the police station, they quickly drive away. TIPS: Intimidation and urgency are red flags that someone is trying to scam you. Go to a police station or call the police if you feel unsafe. If you are in an accident, have an impartial professional assess the damage.

May 25, 2018
Beth’s Russian Hack
25:29

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

May 18, 2018
Married and Betrayed
22:27

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

May 11, 2018
Tracy’s Romance Scam
27:07

Tracy is looking for companionship when she makes a connection online with a widower. They begin talking every day. Her new boyfriend tells her he must leave the country for work, but once he's overseas he starts asking Tracy to send money and electronics. Tracy thinks she is helping him with his business, but really she is being scammed. She sends him thousands of dollars in products before she learns the man is a known scammer. Despite her best efforts, she never gets her money back.

May 04, 2018
Grace’s Gold and Silver Scam
27:25

After her father dies, Grace is in charge of investing his lifetime savings. She decides to put the money into gold and silver. Along the way, she realizes the investment isn’t what she had thought it was.

Apr 27, 2018
Alex Goldman’s Call Center Scam
34:13

Alex Goldman is the host of the Reply All podcast. When he gets a peculiar phone call from someone claiming to be from Apple tech support, Alex quickly realizes it’s a scam — and he wants to learn more about the scam artist and the industry he works in. Alex goes on a deep dive into the shady world of call centers and makes some startling discoveries.

Apr 06, 2018
Martha’s Jury Duty Scam
34:34

Martha gets a message from the police department saying she's missed jury duty and there’s a warrant out for her arrest. In order to avoid being arrested, she needs to send $1,000 to the courthouse immediately. Wanting to do the right thing and not get in trouble with the law, Martha follows the instructions from the man on the phone. After a frantic chase around town — in which she purchases reloadable money cards and fears the police are following her — Martha sends the money.

Apr 06, 2018
Grandparent Scam
28:43

Richard is a retired journalist who receives a call from someone claiming to be his grandson in jail. The young man on the other end of the line tells Richard he needs money to help him get out. By asking the right questions and not giving in, Richard discovers the man is a con artist. 

 

 
Apr 06, 2018
AARP Presents The Perfect Scam
02:22

Coming soon from AARP, The Perfect Scam launching Friday April 6th, 2018.

Mar 21, 2018