I’ve always had an interest in the true crime genre, but sometimes I just can’t stomach murder-centric podcasts. If you, like me, are interested in crime but aren’t always in the mood to hear about murder, there are a plethora of fraud podcasts to scratch that itch.
Whether you prefer serialized single-topic series or a variety of frauds, this list has something for you. From crypto scams, to catfish, to forged or stolen art, these podcasts make for gripping listening, and all the twists and turns will leave you stunned.
The Theranos scandal has been rocking the medical and tech worlds since 2015. Elizabeth Holmes, once named the youngest self-made female billionaire by Forbes, shed an unflattering light on the skewed Silicon Valley strategy of "fake it 'til you make it". Holmes claimed that her ambitious new blood testing technology, the nanotainer, was able to run hundreds of blood tests on just a few drops of blood. Holmes would also go on to claim that she had contracts with the Department of Justice, that her work had been endorsed by companies such as Pfizer, and that her "proprietary technology" lined labs and drugstore pharmacies across the country.
This podcast, produced by ABC News, is hosted by chief business, technology, and economics correspondent, Rebecca Jarvis. It traces the history of Holmes’ fraud, beginning with her dropping out of Stanford to start Theranos, and following her recent trial. Jarvis covered the case in real time, discussing every aspect: jury picking, opening and closing statements, witnesses called, and finally, the verdict.
America is no stranger to scandal, whether it be political or otherwise. This podcast covers some of the biggest cases that have shocked the country. American Scandal covers these stories across mini-series, with immersing recreations of scenes and situations. The crimes covered are varied: from sports, to law enforcement, to the tech world—there is not one shocking story that goes unexamined. Enron, Bernie Madoff, and Volkswagen Diesel are among the frauds covered by this podcast.
Smoke Screen: The Sellout
As the people of Boyle Heights, Los Angeles faced gentrification, they expected that Councilman José Huizar, a man that grew up in their neighborhood, would be on their side. However, as they found themselves in an ongoing fight for their homes, they came to realize that they would have to rely on one another for support.
The ugly truth came out when Huizar’s home was raided by the FBI, and charges of corruption came down. He was accused of taking bribes from luxury real estate developers, and displacing his own constituents for the sake of a private payday. Hosted by investigative journalist Mariah Castañeda, this story covers wide ground, from the streets of Boyle Heights to City Hall.
If you like a podcast with a lighter tone, look no further than the Scam Goddess herself, Laci Mosely. This weekly podcast covers a range of scams: art cons, tech fraud, Ponzi schemes, love scams, and some of the worst multi-level marketing fakers. She’s covered frauds such as Lula Roe, the various Real Housewives scams, and the fake Banksy NFT.
Laci has weekly guests to discuss their own experience with fraud, including Yvonne Orji, Conan O’Brien, and Nicole Byer. Take a listen and join the con-gregation.
Bad Blood: The Final Dropout
If The Dropout isn’t enough Elizabeth Holmes coverage for you, try Bad Blood: The Final Chapter. The podcast is hosted by John Carreyrou, the Wall Street Journal reporter who first broke the Theranos scandal. He realized as he spoke to a former Theranos lab director, Alan Beam, that he was on the verge of a major story.
Carreyrou would go on to write about Holmes’ fraudulent operation in his book, Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup. This podcast traces his experiences with Theranos’ scandal, looking at both his progression with his investigation, and Holmes’ increasingly audacious claims.
Have you ever wanted to learn more about the repercussions of Fyre Festival? Is your curiosity piqued by the corruption that surrounds FIFA? Do you want to know why society often mocks the woman whose lawsuit against McDonald’s led to the "warning: coffee is hot" sleeves on beverages? No crime is too big or small on Swindled. Every episode looks at a new fraud or swindler. Swindled digs into media courage, legal precedent, and the repercussions of these crimes.
As fascinating as I find the art market, it often seems incredibly opaque. This pay-to-play world is rarely brought to light, and is typically only discussed when something goes wonderfully right—or incredibly wrong. Ben Lewis, an author and art journalist, covers stories across the art world, discussing fraudulent dealers, talented forgers, looted antiquities, and cultural restitution in varying cases. The first episode discusses Inigo Philbrick, an ambitious young art dealer who spreads himself just a bit too thin when trying to flip a painting.
Related: 10 Intriguing Art History Books
The Missing Cryptoqueen
As the cryptocurrency market continues to skyrocket, the crypto-curious have over 10,000 currencies to potentially invest in, including Bitcoin, Etherium, and Dogecoin. But what happens when one of these cryptocurrencies appears to be a bad actor? Dr. Ruja Ignatova started OneCoin in 2014, and claimed that it was a revolutionary new cryptocurrency. She gained thousands of followers worldwide, took in millions of dollars—and disappeared in 2017.
Produced by BBC Radio, Jamie Bartlett and his producer, Georgia Catt, dig into the inner workings of OneCoin. They explore its multi-level marketing-like structure, speak to previous and current OneCoin investors, and try to solve the mystery of Dr. Ruja’s disappearance.
Queen of the Con
When Jonathan Walton invited neighbors over to discuss a dispute in their apartment building, he never expected to grow close to Mair Smyth. This enigmatic individual claimed to be a down-on-her-luck Irish heiress. She had a light, lilting accent, a kind smile, and a paper trail to prove her family’s lost wealth. She seemed incredibly generous, often going out of her way to pay for lavish dinners, and giving away expensive bottles of whiskey.
Jonathan came to a rude awakening when he realized that not only was Mair scamming him, but everything that she’d ever told him was a lie.
White Collar Crime and Fraud Podcast
If you knew that you could get away with it, would you commit fraud? If you were caught, what consequences would you face? What lengths would the prosecution have to go to in order to prove what is often the most difficult aspect of these cases: intent? What makes a scammer a scammer? Gene P. Tausk of the Tausk Law Firm examines fraud and white collar crime from varying angles—legal, social, and psychological. He discusses fraudulent cases, as well as how to spot a con, how a con chooses their target, and what to do if you find yourself the victim of a scam.
Related: 13 Eye-Opening Books About the Mafia
Fraudsters is a podcast with a more lighthearted bent, blending banter, parody songs, and interviews with experts on fraudin’. Seena Ghaznavi and Justin Williams pick apart an array of frauds on an international scale. Among the fraudsters covered in season one, they discuss Wirecard, Miss Cleo and the Psychic Friends Network, famed televangelist Jim Bakker, and Anna Delvey, the Soho Grifter. The second season has recently started off strong with Rick Singer and the college admissions scandal.