The Missing Cryptoqueen
Think the concept of cryptocurrency is a bit confusing? So do we! In 2014, Bulgarian-German fraudster Ruja Ignatova banked on that inscrutability when she founded OneCoin, which she pitched as a bigger, better Bitcoin. Within two years, more than 3 million people had joined, as part of a cultish recruitment program, before Ignatova disappeared without a trace. OneCoin ended up being part Ponzi scheme and part pyramid scheme, and the founder was later placed on the FBI’s most wanted list. BBC Sounds host Jamie Bartlett kicked off a hunt for the still-missing criminal, described in his podcast The Missing Cryptoqueen, and turned his reporting into a book of the same name that came out in June.
Since debuting Scamfluencers in April, hosts Scaachi Koul and Sarah Hagi have explored the intersection between social media and the wild tales of infamous scammers from the worlds of fashion, finance, health, wellness and beyond. Subjects have included the fake Saudi prince, Anthony Gignac; Tom Brady’s “body coach” Alex Guerrero; and even Jen Shah, a member of the cast of The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City who was arrested for federal crimes, including conspiracy to commit money laundering. “I think people like injecting themselves into those stories,” Hagi has said. “You don’t have to be stupid to fall for a scam. It could really happen to anyone, and I think there’s something very captivating about that.”
The Shrink Next Door
The true-crime podcast The Shrink Next Door from Wondery and Bloomberg follows the exploits of unscrupulous psychiatrist Isaac “Ike” Herschkopf, whom host and veteran journalist Joe Nocera met shortly after buying a home in the Hamptons. Following a party at what he thought was Herschkopf’s house next door, he began scratching beneath the surface and found that the therapist had a startling amount of control over Nocera’s real neighbor, his patient Marty Markowitz. Soon, Nocera was unraveling a sordid tale of emotional manipulation and financial exploitation. It was so juicy, in fact, that Apple TV turned it into a black comedy starring Paul Rudd and Will Ferrell as Herschkopf and Markowitz.
Arguably the most infamous scammer of the past decade, Elizabeth Holmes promised to revolutionize the medical industry with her company Theranos, which claimed to be able to diagnose a myriad of diseases with a drop of blood. The company was valued at $9 billion, and Forbes called her the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire. The only problem? The technology didn’t work. Produced by ABC News and hosted by Rebecca Jarvis, The Dropout includes interviews with investors and former employees, plus snippets of deposition tapes. And it kicked off a frenzy of Holmes content that eventually led to a TV adaptation of the podcast starring Amanda Seyfried, who won an Emmy for the role.