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Scamfluencers

Author: Wondery

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You never really know someone…especially online. In today’s world, the power of influence can be the quickest path to money and fame, and it often ends in ruin. These are the stories of the world’s most insidious Scamfluencers. And we are their prey. On Wondery’s new weekly series, join co-hosts Scaachi Koul and Sarah Hagi as they unpack epic stories of deception from the worlds of social media, fashion, finance, health, and wellness. These influencers claim to be everything from charismatic healers to trusted financial insiders to experts in dating. They cast spells over millions. Why do we believe them, and how does our culture allow them to thrive? From Black Swan Murder to a fake social media influencer to an audacious Hollywood Ponzi schemer, each season will take the listener along the twists and turns, the impact on victims, and what’s left when the facade falls away.

New episodes come out every Monday for free, with 1-week early access for Wondery+ subscribers. Listen ad-free on Wondery+ or on Amazon Music with a Prime membership or Amazon Music Unlimited subscription.

76 Episodes
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The Great Syrup Swindle

The Great Syrup Swindle

2023-10-0239:245

In Quebec, maple syrup is tightly regulated by a government-backed federation. It controls syrup prices – and profits. When a group of outlaws discovers they can make a ton of money by circumventing the federation, they devise a risky plan. Their dramatic heist reaps super sweet rewards… until things get a little too sticky. See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
Carlos Watson is a Stanford Law School graduate with big Silicon Valley connections and even bigger dreams. When he pitches investors on his idea for a Millennial-focused news website called Ozy Media, it seems like a sure bet. It’s the early 2010s, and Internet-focused media start-ups have generated tons of buzz – and more importantly, tons of clicks. But Carlos doesn't actually know what he’s doing. And when Ozy fails to attract the readers he’s promised his investors, he decides to ditch the business of truth-telling and go rogue.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
In the finale to this two-part series, which originally aired last fall, Alex Guerrero comes under scrutiny from the FTC, but Tom Brady stands by his business partner. Together, they open a sports center, publish a book, and promote their own brand of supplements. But as their popularity grows, some of their most troubling beliefs will come to light.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
This is Infamous International: The Pink Panthers Story, the first true crime limited podcast series from Exactly Right Media, home of My Favorite Murder. Over the course of nine episodes, you’ll be introduced to the Pink Panthers, the world’s most notorious jewel thieves who emerge from the aftermath of the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s. Every Thursday you’ll get another piece of the story, hearing from journalists, experts and eyewitnesses, about the shadowy Serbian crime syndicate that specializes in elaborate smash-and-grab heists that take place in only minutes, but net millions.You’re going to hear a clip of Infamous International: The Pink Panthers Story from “Episode One: Heist at the Wafi Mall,” in which we are introduced to three of the Pink Panthers and hear how they made international headlines AND most wanted lists. If you like what you hear, follow Infamous International: The Pink Panthers Story wherever you get your podcasts. You can listen early and ad-free on Amazon Music or Wondery app: Wondery.fm/IIPPSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
Football season is kicking off again, and we’re celebrating by returning to this two-part series on one of the NFL’s biggest stars. Tommy Brady is retired (for now), but the mark he and his “body coach,” Alex Guerrero, left on the sports and wellness worlds can’t be understated. This episode, which originally aired in October 2022, delves deep into Alex Guerrero’s origin story and his influence over the NFL.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
There’s a lot that’s happened to Jen Shah since this episode originally aired in August 2022. The “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” star was sentenced to more than six years behind bars, and earlier this year reported to Federal Prison Camp in Bryan, Texas. But before all that, she was driving a Porsche, throwing lavish parties, and bragging about her $50,000-a-month shopping sprees. This episode traces her humble origins, rise to fame, and dramatic on-camera downfall.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
In the early 2000s, an Appalachian-born sex worker named JT Leroy becomes a literary wunderkind. His gritty, buzzed-about novels and tragic backstory earn him celebrity fans like Courtney Love, Carrie Fisher, and Billy Corgan, and interest from filmmakers like Gus Van Sant and Asia Argento. But there’s something that doesn’t quite add up about the mysterious young author behind the blonde wig and dark sunglasses. And it’s just a matter of time before people find out JT’s big secret: He’s just as fictional as his novels. This episode discusses body image, mental health, and suicide. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255. The Trevor Project, which aims to ending suicide among LGBTQ youth, offers counseling at the number 1-866-488-7386. If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual assault, you can contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline in the U.S. by calling 1-800-656-HOPE.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
As Erika Jayne’s pop star career blossoms, questions continue to mount about her husband Tom Girardi’s finances and his legal practice. His clients have been waiting in limbo to receive the settlement money owed to them, and they’re not the only ones getting angry with Tom. In the finale to this two-part series, Tom’s own legal woes overshadow his storied career. The revelations from multiple lawsuits and investigations will upend his reputation, his marriage, and even his freedom.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
Tom Girardi dreams of being a do-gooder lawyer like his childhood hero on the TV show “Perry Mason.” When he starts his own legal firm in the 1960s, he does just that, representing clients against the huge corporations that wronged them. One of his biggest cases even gets the Hollywood treatment in the movie “Erin Brockovich.” But behind the scenes, Tom isn’t the hero he makes himself out to be. And when his extravagant home life with wife Erika Jayne gets broadcast on “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” his fraudulent schemes will finally come under the microscope. See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
In 2006, Lamor Whitehead gets arrested while wearing a mink coat, prompting the New York post to dub him a “high roller.” But after a stint in prison, Lamor reinvents himself as a man of God. He starts his own for-profit ministry called Leaders of Tomorrow and befriends some very influential people, including New York politician Eric Adams. But Lamor never lets go of his flashy lifestyle. After he gets robbed while wearing expensive jewelry, his community begins to wonder: How does the pastor of a tiny church afford all of this luxury?See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
Holy Smokes

Holy Smokes

2023-07-3142:193

David Bunevacz is the king of faking it ‘til you make it. After running a shady Olympics ticket brokering scheme, he moves on to his most lucrative venture yet: A weed vape company that seems to be minting money. David and his family move into a Calabasas mansion once owned by Kylie Jenner. But when David starts enlisting his friends as investors in the company, they can smell that something isn’t right. It won’t be long before it all goes up in smoke.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
When the actor Ben McKenzie started hearing about Bitcoin, he was immediately skeptical. While his friends were investing, he started investigating. In this special episode of Scamfluencers, Scaachi Koul talks with Ben McKenzie – best known for starring in TV shows like The O.C., Southland, and Gotham – about his journey into the world of crypto, celebrities, and “casino capitalism,” as chronicled in his new book. Plus, Ben explains why he thinks crypto is one of the biggest Ponzi schemes of all time.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
I Loot Lucy

I Loot Lucy

2023-07-1746:202

Charles Hensley gets his first brush with fame when he invents a nasal spray called Zicam. After his product turns out to cause harm to some patients, he abandons the homeopathic world and pivots to Hollywood. His next big idea involves Desilu Productions, a beloved company founded by “I Love Lucy” stars Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. But when his brazen bluffing goes too far, he’ll have a lot of explaining to do.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
In the mid-90s, Dr. Mehmet Oz is a rock star surgeon with a reputation for performing on high-profile clients. He eventually scores his own television show, and soon he becomes daytime television royalty. Oprah even dubs him “America’s doctor.” But his drive for stardom has him hawking questionable products, mostly related to weight loss. When his medical reputation is up in the air, he does what past-their-prime reality stars do best: he pivots to politics.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
In the finale to this two-part series, which originally aired last summer, Hushpuppi expands his business with new partnerships, including with the North Korean cyber criminals who hacked into Sony. He’s becoming one of the most elite Internet scammers in the world, and he’s well on his way to pulling off a massive, multi-million dollar money laundering scheme… If only he could stop posting about it on the gram.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
In the spirit of summer travel season, we’re reconnecting with the king of posting obnoxious vacation photos on Instagram: Hushpuppi. This episode, which originally aired in July 2022, follows the former “Yahoo boy” who transcended poverty and now calls himself the Billionaire Gucci Master. He wears head-to-toe Fendi and can’t stop posing next to Bentleys and private jets. But his haters, including more than a few rappers, all want to know: Where is his money coming from?See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
Live, Laugh, Lie

Live, Laugh, Lie

2023-06-1944:399

As a young girl growing up in Michigan, Gina Champion-Cain dreams of becoming a business woman. After she moves to San Diego, she makes a name for herself as one of the city’s most influential developers. She appears on magazine covers and takes credit for revitalizing downtown. When she starts shilling loans for liquor licenses, investors think it’s a slam-dunk… until they discover the entire scheme is built on a lie.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
Chess Cheater

Chess Cheater

2023-06-1245:507

From a young age, Hans Niemann knows he loves chess and wants to face off against his hero, Magnus Carlsen. Hans grows into a brash and intense player who makes questionable moves during online chess tournaments, but he doesn’t want that to define him. When he finally gets the opportunity to compete against Magnus, the combined force of their egos and ambitions collide, threatening to tarnish both of their legacies.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
Josh Cartu is from a small town outside of Toronto. But he dreams of a faster and flashier lifestyle, driving the expensive cars he’s grown up idolizing. With his two brothers, he heads out into the world of international business and helps launch a series of shady companies. Riding high on their get-rich-quick schemes, the brothers form a driving crew called the Wolf Pack and participate in glitzy, rowdy races throughout Europe until their deceptions finally catch up with them. Scaachi and Sarah tell the story of the Cartu brothers’ rise and fall in front of a live audience at Hot Docs Festival in Toronto, Ontario.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
Do You Even Grift, Bro?

Do You Even Grift, Bro?

2023-05-2947:099

Brian Johnson, who will later become known as Liver King, grows up a scrawny kid who often gets picked on. He decides to start bulking up so that he won’t get picked on anymore. As an adult, he takes his fitness journey a step further and forces his family to go on an extreme diet: eating mostly raw meat. He thinks this caveman-style meal plan is marketable and turns to selling supplements so that others can follow in his footsteps. But after he starts posting viral videos as Liver King and building a massive following, incriminating emails surface that completely undermine his carefully crafted persona.Please support us by supporting our sponsors.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
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Comments (75)

Shannon Compton

Yes Americans know that maple syrup comes from trees. Many people tap trees themselves, thanks to indigenous people teaching colonists how, so many years ago.

Oct 3rd
Reply

Alissa Maxwell

He's referring to Tylenol remaining a household name despite the tampering crime of 1982 in Chicago, which led to seven deaths.

Oct 1st
Reply

Brooke Anderson

I'm SOOOOOOOOOOO fuckin sick of podcasts reairing episodes. Do hosts not have enough respect to give us some actual content?

Sep 11th
Reply

N Fox

liked the pod but all these 'encorw' episodes are ridicules. the podcast doesn't even have enough episodes to be doing throw backs at this point.

Sep 11th
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ctothet

so embarrassed for the hosts.... it feels like getting my babysitter to attempt to read a CNN story.

Aug 27th
Reply

Sweet Holly

I was enjoying the pods for the most part, then arrived at the Guru episode where the hosts bash white women. I guess racism is fine if it's towards whites. Unsub.

Aug 4th
Reply

Sweet Holly

This was probably a good story, but I can't stand the racism. Peace ✌️

Aug 4th
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Starr

...how?

Jul 22nd
Reply

lizzyb

what does him loving Trump have anything to do with this... quit alienating ppl with your leftist views. I have listened for a while but am sick of politics in episodes...

Jun 6th
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Carl Bayly

it stated off fine with some decent stories, but the last two listened to, Tom Brady as well as the Nigeria sister were absolutely pitiful. pure fluff. also, the two hosts just cant stop referencing themselves and the sad pop culture that they are obsessed with. bye

May 24th
Reply

Carl Bayly

I'm done with podcast, each episode is worse than the last

May 24th
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Carl Bayly

comparing Tom Brady to Kim Kardashian made me throw up in my mouth.

May 23rd
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ID28559645

Don’t support these outward complete racists. If a White person said half the things they say in this episode about “Brown” people they would be canceled and derailed on social media for being racist. ( Yoga Hustler episode) it’s really sad they are allowed to continue talking like this about other races in a platform like this.

May 23rd
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Carl Bayly

what a painfully pointless episode!

May 18th
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ID28559645

Would really love for them to do a new story.. I’ve heard literally all of these stories heard countless times on podcasts. Some of these have deff been featured on Sword and Scale/2020 podcast etc. I hoped I would hear a new scammer story for once but no.. all the sane stories we’ve all already heard before with no new details.

May 12th
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ID28559645

These girls are super racist against white people. Never listening again. Horrendous.

May 12th
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An interested party

100%

May 9th
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z delany

have been loving this newly discovered podcast but could only get through the first5 min of this one , the racial baised on display but these host was shocking america seems to be the only country who mixes up culture and race in this way ....any race can be part of a culture

May 5th
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Carl Bayly

These guys got the story so wrong. they missreprested her for she was no victim. I've seen other coverage of this story, all showed her in a very different light

May 5th
Reply

Lisalouise Taylor

omg..the fake laugh tracks are awful. even if it's not fake, it's irritating and cheapens the episode.

May 1st
Reply
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