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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.

107 Episodes
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Leona Helmsley’s perch atop the world of Manhattan real estate is threatened by federal tax evasion charges. Her trial gives all the people she bullied a chance to hit back. With her dirty laundry aired out for all to see, the Queen of Mean is served her just desserts. But as she soldiers on without her beloved Harry, Leona will have terrible trouble defending her riches, and her heart.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
Leona Helmsley escapes Depression-era poverty by marrying billionaire real estate magnate Harry Helmsley. She takes over his Manhattan hotels and declares herself Queen of the Palace, then earns a royal reputation for berating, bullying, and firing employees at the drop of a hat. But when her tax bills come into question, everyone who’s worked under Leona gets their pitchforks ready to take down the Queen of Mean.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
Sandy Jenkins moves to the gossipy, small town of Corsicana, Texas to work in the town’s world-famous fruitcake factory. Desperate to keep up with his cliquey neighbors, Sandy starts cutting fruitcake factory checks to pay for jewelry, cars, a second home and private jet trips. But this half-baked scheme starts to crumble when a new employee takes a closer look at how Sandy cooks the books.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
Listen Now: The Big Flop

Listen Now: The Big Flop

2024-04-0504:231

The Wing was supposed to be a model for feminist social clubs, built on activism, inclusion, and self-care. But instead, The Wing became a glaring example of toxic girlboss culture and workplace discrimination. On each episode of Wondery’s podcast The Big Flop, comedians join host Misha Brown to chronicle one of the biggest pop-culture fails of all time and try to answer the age-old question: who thought THIS was a good idea?This is just a preview of The Big Flop. Listen to the full episode wherever you get your podcasts, or at wondery.fm/the-big-flop.For more deep dive and daily business content listen to Wondery – the destination for business podcasts. With shows like How I Built This, Business Wars, The Best One Yet, Business Movers and many more, Wondery Means Business.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
After a daring bank robbery, Arthur Cofield winds up behind bars as a teenager. But prison doesn’t put an end to his life of crime. Instead, it only emboldens him. From his cell, he becomes the head of a powerful criminal syndicate that targets the bank accounts of billionaires. But when Arthur gets a little too brazen, the authorities realize they know exactly where to find him: He’s already in custody.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
Dial M for Mom

Dial M for Mom

2024-03-2545:028

When ex-cop Chris Butler opens a private investigation agency, he recruits some unlikely employees: good-looking soccer moms. His agency starts garnering tons of positive press and even gets a reality T.V. deal. It all seems too good to be true, but Butler is hiding a dirty secret. Pretty soon, his P.I. agency will become the subject of a different kind of investigation – this time, by the Department of Justice. See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
ENCORE: Wine Crime

ENCORE: Wine Crime

2024-03-1849:201

The so-called “super-taster” is back at it again. In this re-run about the wine world’s most infamous fraudster, we revisit the story of Rudy Kurniawan. Using his extraordinary tasting skills, Rudy’s able to gain influence and rake in serious cash. But when wine aficionados start to suspect Rudy’s been lying, they blow the cork off one of the industry’s juiciest scandals. See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
With the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on the horizon, we’re revisiting an epic Coachella scam. This encore episode follows a wealthy, glamorous and mysterious business woman looking to cash in on the California dream. When she announces her latest project — a luxury resort she plans to build in the desert — she quickly nets millions of dollars. There’s just one problem: Her dazzling property is nothing more than a mirage.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
ENCORE: The Book Bandit

ENCORE: The Book Bandit

2024-03-0449:403

The mystery thickens in this rerun about a puzzling phishing scam. When some of the biggest authors, publishers, and agents in the world become targets, it throws the industry into chaos – and turns everyone involved into an amateur detective. Rumors about the scammer’s identity – and motives – abound. And as the scammer gets bolder, his targets become determined to crack the mystery wide open. See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
The King of Good Times

The King of Good Times

2024-02-2648:158

Vijay Mallya loves racing cars and partying hard – and being an heir to a multi-million dollar empire makes it easy to do both. When Vijay takes over his father’s company, he doubles down on its beer brand, launches a glamorous airline, and buys a Formula 1 racing team. He becomes a hometown hero and an inspiration to many people in India – until they discover that his victories are coming at their expense. This episode contains a reference to suicide. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
The Shark Tank Charlatan

The Shark Tank Charlatan

2024-02-1947:198

Nate Holzapfel is a natural salesman. When he goes on the television show “Shark Tank” in 2012, he wows investors with his line of ratchet-style belts, which he claims are “like a giant zip tie for your pants.” His company takes off, but Nate still isn’t satisfied – he wants to live even larger. That’s when he decides to take on a much darker business venture: defrauding the most powerless people he can find.This episode contains descriptions of sexual violence and assault. If you or someone you know is a survivor of sexual assualt and would like to speak with an advocate who is trained to help, the U.S. National Sexual Assault Hotline can be reached at 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.
Death Becomes Him

Death Becomes Him

2024-02-1250:137

Alexandre Despallieres gets to live out his lifelong fantasy of recording a pop song when he’s just 19 years old. He thinks it’s his chance to achieve everything he’s always wanted, including music industry stardom. But when the single falls flat, Alexandre will have to find other ways of becoming rich and famous – even if it means lying, committing crimes, and swindling the wealthy benefactors who fall in love with him.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
When Jeff Carpoff starts a business making portable solar generators, it becomes an instant hit among big corporations, Hollywood studios, and deep-pocketed investors. They think they’re getting a good deal on green energy – and a huge tax credit to go along with it. But Jeff’s clients don’t realize that he’s been playing them. And when he flies too close to the sun, it’ll blow the fuse on his whole operation. See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
When Louise Forlenza sees a production of “Rebecca” in Europe, she knows she wants to be the one to bring it to America. But she and her co-producer are going to need major cash to put on a Broadway musical. They put all their hopes in a mysterious angel investor, but when he turns out to be too good to be true, their show risks going up in flames. See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
Teresa Giudice learns from her Italian-born parents that the most important thing in life is family. When she starts a family of her own with her long-time lover, Joe, he does everything he can to give her the American dream — including fabricating tax documents and taking out phony loans. When Teresa joins the cast of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, her stardom rises with a flip of a table. But once she’s in the spotlight, she’ll have to answer for her over-the-top lifestyle.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
In the summer of 2003, Martha Stewart is indicted for obstruction of justice and lying to investigators. She stubbornly maintains her innocence and vows to fight the charges, but her cover-up falls apart during a messy and humiliating public trial. She and her stockbroker are facing prison time, but she’s determined to come out on top – no matter what it takes to get there.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
Martha Stewart spends decades building her lifestyle empire from the ground up. Her cut-throat business savvy helps make her America’s first self-made female billionaire. But when she becomes embroiled in an insider trading scandal in 2002, it’ll spark a media circus and threaten to muddy her squeaky clean image. A damning investigation by the U.S. government promises to take her down – alongside some of her closest friends.See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
Just in time for the new year, a cautionary tale: In this re-run from last year, Brittany Dawn rises to Instagram fame as a body-positive influencer. She launches an online business as a personal trainer and fitness coach and sells “personalized” plans to help others who are struggling with the same issues she did. But when her clients discover their plans are not at all what was advertised, they decide to team up – and uncover the truth about Brittany’s business. This episode contains discussion of body image, eating disorders, and mental health. If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, here are some additional resources: National Eating Disorder Association: 1-800-931-2237National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders: 888-375-7767See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
Hey Scam Fam! We are taking a quick break for the holidays, but we'll be back with new episodes on January 1 on W+ and on January 8 wherever you get your podcasts. We're kicking off the new year with some absolute bangers -- including a pioneering girl boss, a Real Housewife, and a reality show scammer who turned out to be a big-time con man.Until then, check out our previous episodes and some of Wondery's other series, like The Big Flop. Happy New Year!See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
‘Tis the season for spending obscene amounts of money. That’s something superstar art dealer Inigo Philbrick excels at. In this re-run from last year, the art world hustler starts making big money “flipping” works of art. Before long, he’s selling shares of paintings to investors all over the globe, all while becoming known for his jet-setting and expensive taste. But when he makes too many promises he can’t keep, this art world svengali will lose it all. 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 (84)

Meri Doughten

it was pretty hilarious to hear the federation member claim the organization is not a cartel just because it's legal when what the QMSP/FMSP is doing is the EXACT definition of a cartel 😂

Mar 18th
Reply

Kitabug

"I don't believe in prison..." someone please explain that comment 🤔😅

Mar 11th
Reply

mysteriouscauliflower

I don't really understand why they get weirdly stereotypical and a bit racist about French people, the accent is so off as well...

Feb 13th
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Non Dairy Canary

Anyone who didn't already know would infer from this episode that 'Rebecca' the original novel was German. Rather, it is English, having been written by English author Daphne Du Maurier, and set in Cornwall, where Du Maurier lived and where most of her works are set. And 'the housekeeper' is Mrs Danvers - is there anybody who doesn't recognize that name? I like this series, but the ignorance / dumbing down sometimes feels a bit deliberate.

Jan 30th
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Billie Thomas Schroder

First time I listened... Martha episodes. Your eye rolls were heard loud and clear. You hated on her so hard. Does Martha's success threaten you in some way? Just because a wealthy person has a life changing event, ie: conviction and prision, doesn't mean they must get out and champion some holy cause. Maybe she just wants to have fun with the last few years of life and not take herself as seriously anymore. The woman is in her 80's for heavens sake. Are all the episodes this judgey? Chill.

Jan 27th
Reply

Mr kibria

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Jan 26th
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Kitabug

this episode was so dull

Oct 10th
Reply (1)

Marty Kroenecke

doesn't surprise me one bit that there are real Canadians who don't buy in to the policies and programs of the Nazi, physco, dictator, who runs that country. One day I pray that both the good people of Canada and the United States will wake up and vote these morons out of office.

Oct 6th
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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Carl Bayly

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

May 24th
Reply

Carl Bayly

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

May 23rd
Reply
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