Fraudsters, scammers and con-artists are as core to the true crime community as twisted murders and unsolved mysteries.
From the disastrous Fyre Festival to the epic takedown of disgraced Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, there’s no denying that there is something oddly fascinating and wildly addictive about watching something that involves some kind of elaborate scam.
It’s a vast and complicated world, after all.
Our obsession first began with 2010’s
Catfish, a documentary that followed filmmaker Yaniv (Nav) Schulman in his quest to discover the real identity of a young woman and her family, which led to a series of unexpected twists and made us all rethink how we approach online relationships. Then came the fascinating story of Anna Delvey, the infamous 25-year-old “Soho Grifter” who scammed her way into New York’s elite between 2013 and 2017, which spawned hundreds of articles and even an upcoming Netflix docu-series called Inventing Anna, produced by Shonda Rhimes.
Most recently, we’ve been entirely gripped by the
Sweet Bobby podcast where we uncovered a horrifying decade-long identity scam.
And there’s way more documentaries and dramas that delve into the white collar world of fraud, scams and cons to dip our feet into. As well as
Inventing Anna, Netflix is also set to release The Tinder Swindler which tells the tale of Simon Leviev, the “son of a billionaire” who conned multiple Scandinavian women out of millions of dollars. And over on ITV, The Thief, His Wife and The Canoe which comes out later this year, is based on the true story of a man who faked his own demise for life insurance money.
From the plain bizarre to the ruthlessly shocking, and sometimes heartbreaking and tragic, our obsession with scammers and con artists doesn’t seem to be settling anytime soon. Whether you’re looking for a deep-dive on big scale corporate corruption of a laser-sharp individual character study, there is something here for everyone.
So if you want to whet your appetite for everything to come, here’s an extensive list of all the twisted and captivating documentaries and dramas to catch up on.
The Puppet Master: Hunting The Ultimate Conman
This three-part docuseries follows the epic race to track down conman Robert Hendy-Freegard who stole almost one million pounds from his multiple victims. The kicker? He was posing as an MI5 Agent the whole time…
This twisted and harrowing docuseries doesn’t overstretch the subject with the story being wrapped up in three hours. With compelling story telling and a near impossible plot, this series grip viewers with an unexpected ending.
This gripping crime thriller, whose first season is based on John Meehan, follows the well-known crime case of this pathological liar. The season follows a beautiful and successful Debra Newell, who is quickly swept off her feet into a whirlwind romance by conman Meehan. Drawn into his charismatic lies and manipulation, this drama will have horrific consequences for an entire family.
The cliché phrase “rich get richer” takes a new form in this series looking at big-money fraud (of international proportions). This docuseries exposes the greed and corruption that exists within the world of business.
Dirty Money succeeds in balancing the seriousness of the subject matter with great storytelling into individual cases, leaving you wanting to know more.
Over the course of two seasons, each episode unpicks a new case of corporate corruption giving front seat insight into a system plagued with illegal activities.
Lords Of Scam
Lord of Scam is a French true crime documentary on Netflix, where a group of scammers con the EU carbon quota system out of millions through financial loopholes. At first, it’s a blissful life post-crime as they enjoy their stolen finances, until bickering begins, friends turn into enemies, and the snitching starts. This docuseries follows these men as they go about their days and proceed to being each other’s downfall.
Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal
Full House and 90210 star Lori Loughlin went to jail for a few weeks before resuming her lavish Hollywood life? Well, this is the story behind the elite upper class who got caught trying to pay for their kids to get into college – and it asks whether the wealthy will ever be held accountable for their scams.
Not only will this series have you questioning the number of people that have gotten away with this, it will serve as a chilling insight into the level of short cuts money and contacts can buy.
Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened
You’ve probably come across the many memes that came out of
Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened, but this documentary is another interesting watch if you love seeing the lives of the rich and powerful slowly fall apart. When one unmissable party draws influencers, models, and more for the time of their lives, not everything is as it seems. Over the course of the documentary, watch as a promised good time spins completely out of control.
Watch on Netflix.
Love You To Death
We all know what we see isn’t always the true reality. A picture-perfect relationship of a mother caring of her sick daughter takes a deadly turn when the mother is found dead and the daughter is missing. Intertwined with fraud, mental illness, and a complex web of lies, this show provides a rollercoaster journey finishing with a spine-chilling ending.
A story of legal difficulties and credit not given where its due, Amy Adams stars as Margaret Keane in Big Eyes, based on the true story of a wronged artist. A plot from Keane’s husband to steal all the credit for her work, threatens to expose a life ridden with lies and a legal battle between a husband and wife.
The Inventor: Out For Blood In Silicon Valley
This HBO documentary takes a close look at the rise and devastating fall of the now-disgraced Elizabeth Holmes, the Silicon Valley “billionaire” who claimed to be heralding in a revolutionary medical treatment. Coined the world’s youngest billionaire and heralded as the next Steve Jobs, this documentary will explore why, two years later, her multi billion-dollar company was completely dissolved.
Art And Craft
Art and Craft investigates the story of scam artist Mark Landis who posed as philanthropic donor for much of his career. Enjoying an impressive 30-year long career as the United States’ most prolific art forger, this show will tell a tale that puts together art, money and an expert con artist. Copying the styles of Picasso, 15 th century artists and even Walt Disney, the con artist will confront his own legacy in this shocking documentary.
Catch Her If You Can
Mariam Mola prides herself in being a remarkable self-made business woman but it’s not all what it seems. Mola, from East London, is labelled a scam artist, whose scams targeted credit card companies, luxury boutiques, and most shockingly, teenagers. In this wild game of cat-and-mouse, she is exposed by her victims through testimonies and storytelling, as the fraudster she really is.
Bad Influencer: The Great Insta Con
Belle Gibson was a wellness guru and Instagram super-influencer. When she tells fans of her extraordinary recovery from terminal cancer using natural therapies and plant-based diets, it skyrockets her fame even further. That is until we discover she never had cancer after all. This is a deep look into the world of cons, and when someone gets trapped in a lie.
Made You Look: A True Story About Fake Art
Made You Look is a series that explores a compelling story about deception and delusion in the art world. This series takes a look at the largest art fraud in American history. What happens when a woman walks into New York’s oldest art gallery and sells an expert-approved fake? Well, delve into the intricate world of art forgery, fraud, and greed.
After losing out on the Olympics due to an injury, former professional skier Molly Bloom turns to the world of high stakes poker and big money gambles in an effort to make a name for herself. Starring Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba,
Molly’s Game, is inspired by a true story following the risk and glamour of the poker world and the pitfalls that come with increased wealth.
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