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The Perfect Scam

Author: AARP

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AARP’s weekly podcast The Perfect ScamSM tells the stories of people who find themselves the target of a scam. Host Bob Sullivan introduces listeners to those who have experienced scams firsthand, as well as professional con artists and leading experts who pull back the curtain on how scammers operate.
227 Episodes
In this 2021 episode, after 80-year-old Alan returns from a trip to the Middle East and Africa, where he visited new “friends” he made online, his wife grows suspicious that he’s involved in a scam and contacts the FBI. That’s when rookie FBI agent Mike gets involved. Over the next nine months, Alan becomes Mike’s informant as they work to prosecute scammers who aren’t even on American soil.
In part 2, James is becoming suspicious of the people who are “helping” him sell his Lake Tahoe time-share. After several months of paying fees, he learns that he’s in the middle of a common, and dangerous, time-share resale scam. The people he thinks are real estate agents are actually members of a notorious Mexican cartel who have shifted their business from drug trafficking to the even more lucrative business of scams.
When James receives a call from a company offering to sell his Lake Tahoe time-share, he jumps at the chance to off-load it. They find a buyer in Mexico and draw up a contract through an escrow company in New York City. James is told he only has to pay a fee to transfer the property, which will be reimbursed by the buyer. Unexpected fees and expenses continue to pile up, but James does not get any closer to completing the sale. Little does he know that his time-share sale is connected to a dangerous Mexican drug cartel.
Jody and her husband love to travel, and they love to save up credit card reward points to make their family vacations more affordable. When they start getting notifications that some of their points have been redeemed without their permission, they are led on a monthslong ordeal to secure their accounts from criminals who are turning those hard-earned points into cash.
The pandemic is tough for Victor’s small business, but the loan he receives from the Paycheck Protection Program is a lifeline. Years later, he receives a call from someone claiming to be from the sheriff’s office. The caller says Victor's loan application has been flagged as fraudulent and he must pay the money back right away or face arrest. Victor doesn’t realize that his loan information is public and easily accessible to scammers, who use it to their advantage.
Lorraine is grieving her father when she receives a letter claiming to be from Florida Power & Light notifying her to contact them. A kind "operator" named Anna walks her through the process of switching the account from her father to setting up a new one in her name and paying a deposit. A few weeks later, a notice from the real Florida Power & Light arrives in Lorraine’s mailbox and she realizes Anna wasn’t who she said she was. The criminals have gotten away with the $300 deposit, and the information they have stolen is much more valuable.
Amid quickly changing technology and social trends, criminals are constantly developing new methods of defrauding consumers. In this bonus episode, Bob talks with Amy Nofziger of the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline to discuss six of the fastest-growing scams. These include new forms of check fraud, celebrity impersonation, sweepstakes and grandparent scams, along with the technology of voice printing and scams related to the upcoming summer Olympics.
Inside the Dark Web

Inside the Dark Web


The criminal side of the internet, the Dark Web, is unknown to most of us. This week’s guest, criminologist David Maimon, takes us behind the curtain into a world where criminals talk to one another anonymously and the personal identifying information of thousands of unsuspecting victims is up for sale. Learn how Maimon’s research warns of emerging trends and how consumers can protect themselves.
After a divorce, Nancy moves to North Carolina and takes a job as a caregiver for older patients who are in poor health. The work is rewarding but challenging, and to help her unwind after long days, a roommate introduces her to Korean television dramas. She becomes a fan of one actor in particular, Paul Ahn, and follows him on social media. So she is thrilled when she receives a Facebook message from someone claiming to be Paul. They exchange messages, and the relationship quickly becomes romantic. Paul invites Nancy to visit him, but there is a catch: She must pay a reservation fee of $18,500. As she prepares for the trip, he asks for more and more money for travel expenses, leading Nancy to wonder if he really is who he seems. 
Marlene is suffering from terrible back pain and preparing to have surgery in a few days when her computer suddenly begins flashing a fraud warning. The tech support operator tells her that her account has been compromised. Fearing the money she needs for her surgery will be lost, she pushes through the blinding pain and races to her bank and a cryptocurrency ATM in hopes of saving her money.
Employment scams are one of the fastest growing types of fraud. The recent surge can be traced to several post-pandemic factors that make these crimes even easier for criminals. In this episode, we will hear from a job seeker and an employer who’ve both been affected, as well as an expert who shares the red flags job seekers should be on the alert for.  
In Part 2 of this 2021 episode, young ICU nurse Whitney Kirkpatrick’s life is turned upside down when the police show up at her door looking for her boyfriend of nine months, Gregory Thomas. He is not the wealthy, successful oil executive he claims to be. Instead, Gregory has spun an elaborate web of lies — and he’s been funding his extravagant lifestyle with Whitney’s money. With the support of family and friends, Whitney finds the strength to move on and to educate others about identity theft and white-collar crime. 
In this 2021 episode, recent graduate Whitney Kirkpatrick is starting her career as a nurse when she meets Gregory Thomas, young and driven, and already the CEO of an oil company. His Southern charm, ambition and lavish lifestyle win over Whitney, her friends and her family. Then strange things begin to happen: large withdrawals from her bank account, calls from creditors late at night and pieces of Gregory’s story not adding up.
Linda Khandro is a busy college professor who spends her spare time playing her harp in hospitals and hospice facilities. One day her life is turned upside down when a virus alert on her computer leads to a threatening phone call and a four-and-a-half-months long nightmare. The ordeal has her doing things she couldn’t have imagined: retiring early from the teaching career she loves and buying gold bars and putting them into a stranger’s car.
In Part 2, Michael, an Iraq War veteran who has fallen on hard financial times, thinks he has found help from Voyager Financial Group, which pays him a lump sum in exchange for five years’ worth of disability payments. But it has only made his money problems worse. He declares bankruptcy, and now Voyager is suing him. As he prepares to defend himself, Michael make a shocking discovery: The entire scheme is illegal and Candy Kern-Fuller and Andrew Gamber of Voyager have spent years getting rich brokering these deals, while veterans like Michael are left in financial ruin.
The men and women who bravely fight for our nation are too often the target of financial criminals. After serving four years clearing roadside bombs in Iraq, Michael returns home and is diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. A divorce and a series of medical emergencies leave him struggling financially and searching for some relief. Michael finds the Voyager Financial Group, which offers lump sums for military disability benefits, but Michael soon finds out the scheme will leave him in even worse shape than before.
When a fire destroys his Wisconsin home, Royce Babcock and his family are forced to live out of their garage. Desperate to get his home rebuilt, Babcock hires Tyler Hansen, who has excellent reviews and reasonable rates. Delay after delay and myriad excuses leave Babcock with no choice but to take his complaints to law enforcement. This reveals a history of Hansen and his wife defrauding homeowners all over the state.
In Part 2, Homeland Security Agent Justin Deutsch and colleagues pursue Mary Marr, the leader of a fraud and money laundering ring that defrauded hundreds of victims who thought they were buying tech stocks. A member of an elusive organization called the Knights of Malta, Marr uses a diplomatic passport to evade capture across many countries before her arrest in a beauty salon in Serbia.
In 2014, Homeland Security Agent Justin Deutsch inherits a case concerning an international fraud and money laundering ring. Callers from “boiler rooms” pose as investment brokers and peddle stocks that don’t exist. Working on tips about suspicious bank accounts in Florida, Deutsch and other agents follow the money – eventually leading to the ringleader, Mary Marr. The investigation unravels a scheme that defrauded hundreds of victims around the world out of millions of dollars.
Todd Alper is a recently retired lawyer and teacher in New York City. One day in 2020, he learns that there are many people trying to locate the lawyer Todd Alper, even though he hasn’t actively practiced law in several years. To his astonishment, an online search reveals a website for a law office in his name. Criminals are impersonating him in an elaborate scheme targeting owners of timeshares. Todd is devastated that his name is being used to defraud innocent people, and he begins the long fight to regain his identity and his sense of control.
Comments (30)

John Newman


Jun 15th

Brandy Northrop

Thanks for sharing.

May 22nd

jonatan joster wt w

May 20th

Afifa Najnin Shetu


Apr 19th

Gloria Ellis Feliciano


Jan 22nd


I feel so bad for this lady but she's putting a lot of responsibility on that of the banks when she went through every step of this multi-day craziness, including lying to the banks when they tried to make sure she wasn't being scammed, over the course of multiple days.

Nov 9th

Sarah Marie

As someone who has multiple myeloma & has been undergoing chemotherapy on & off the past few years, this makes me sick to my stomach! I am originally from Michigan as well & I remember hearing of people going to this doctor. I feel for these patients. I have 2 young children that I NEED to be here for & I can not imagine a trusted health care provider doing something like this to me. Literally makes me sick.

Sep 9th


And this airhead was in military intelligence? $1.1million ? Brilliant.

Aug 26th


This pod should be called "hire a liar called Frank and let him keep cashing in on 50yrs of bs".

Jul 15th

Tamika Boyce

Great Episode

May 19th


Munchausen Syndrome was named after a German cavalry officer Baron von Munchausen (1720-1797), a man who travelled widely and was known for his dramatic but untruthful stories. In 1951 Richard Asher described a pattern of self-abuse, where individuals fabricated histories of illness.

Aug 12th

bob caygeon

The Pretend Podcast has recently outed Frank Abagnale as a complete fraud. A plethora of evidence includes military discharge, court and prison records- and an interview with a victim that he never repaid.

Jul 20th


kitboga is way better imo

Jul 13th

Tiger Cat Jones

The only scammers more prolific than serial liar Frank Abagnale is the AARP. This book The Greatest Hoax on Earth: Catching Truth While We Can. by Alan C. Logan exposes Abagnale and his endless lies like never before. That a phony company like AARP would use him as their go to guy for cons is no surprise, they're both full of it.

Jun 1st
Reply (2)

Dave Shilling

Great show and cast

Mar 21st

Toni Diane

The show is on Netflix. It's called "I Care a Lot." It's terrifying.

Mar 12th

Rocky Mountain

3 minutes in and in still listening to ads. Move it along.

Jan 21st

Martijn Deketelaere

Good show. Keep it up

Nov 29th


Is this even a scam? She married him. She just sounds like a scummy gold digger

Dec 4th