70 episodes

Pretend Radio is a documentary-style podcast about real people pretending to be someone else. I interview con artists, snake oil salesmen, undercover FBI agents—pretty much anyone living a lie.

Pretend - a true crime documentary podcast Creative Babble

    • True Crime
    • 4.8 • 96 Ratings

Pretend Radio is a documentary-style podcast about real people pretending to be someone else. I interview con artists, snake oil salesmen, undercover FBI agents—pretty much anyone living a lie.

    S609: The Treasure Hunter part 4

    S609: The Treasure Hunter part 4

    A real-life Indiana Jones? 
    The word on the street is that Michael Torres is Ph.D. by day and a treasure hunter by night. Torres claims he has an aeronautical engineering degree from Duke University. Don’t believe him? He has a photo of his diploma. Michael Torres also claims to have taught at MIT Lincoln Laboratory. He has the library card to prove it. 
    When he’s not in the classroom, Torres is out looking for treasure. He claims he raided catacombs in Turkey, he’s recovered one of Sir Francis Drake’s sunken ship. And most recently, he discovered what he believes is a pre-Incan Peruvian burial mask off the eastern coast of Florida. 
    But like unlike Dr. Indiana Jones, some have accused him of stolen valor by exaggerating his military career. They say Torres falsely represented himself as a war hero with two Purple Heart medals. 
    His critics say not to believe a word he says. For instance, Michael Torres says he discovered a mass Jewish mass grave in Savannah, Georgia. Is he a serious treasure hunter or just a hack who makes up stories in order to gain attention? 
    As a spectator in the world of fraud, I allow myself to get sucked in towards the center of the storm of lies. I do this with great caution. The closer I get, the more believable the stories get. And unlike victims, who are emotionally and financially invested, it's easier for me to circle just outside the hurricane's eye wall. 
    In today’s episode, I’ll let you be the judge. Is Michael Torres a war hero/treasure hunter? Or is he a con artist?
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    • 48 min
    S608: The Treasure Hunter part 3

    S608: The Treasure Hunter part 3

    In this episode, Michael Torres discovers "a mass Jewish grave." But is it what he thinks it is? And I talk to the CEO of Seafarer Exploration to figure out why he hasn't found a single treasure in 13 years. 
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    • 1 hr 1 min
    S607: The Treasure Hunter part 2

    S607: The Treasure Hunter part 2

    A modern-day pirate
    Michael Torres is a self-proclaimed pirate. He says his most recent finds include the crown jewels of a pre-Incan civilization, a missing colonial settlement, and a desecrated Jewish burial site at Bonaventure cemetery. 
    These larger-than-life discoveries have come into question. In today’s episode, we’ll follow the evidence to separate fact from fiction. 
    Seafarer Exploration
    Michael Torres is currently being sued by Seafarer Exploration, a treasure salvage company. The company says Torres lied about his credentials and has set them back financially. Today, we take a closer look at Seafarer Exploration to understand how this company stays afloat. After all, they’ve been around for 13 years, have millions of dollars in debt, and have yet to find a treasure.
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    • 48 min
    S606: The Treasure Hunter part 1

    S606: The Treasure Hunter part 1

    A Florida treasure-hunting CEO says he was tricked by a conman.
    Seafarer Exploration, a treasure salvage company, has spent the last 13 years trying to find a 300-year-old Spanish galleon sunken off the coast of Florida. A galleon is a large sailboat, with multiple leveled decks, and 3 or 4 masts. These ships were designed to carry large treasures found in the new world and bring them back to Spain. 
    Lost treasure
    In 1715, a Spanish fleet loaded up with silver departed from Havana, Cuba. Seven days later, a hurricane off the east coast of central Florida swooped in and took down eleven of the twelve ships. Hence, the reason they call this part of Florida the treasure coast. 
    But as you can imagine, trying to find the mother load buried underneath the ocean is like finding a needle in a haystack. If Seafarer Exploration has any chance of finding this treasure, they are going to need to find someone who can build a ship that is powerful enough to scan the ocean floor. Imagine a giant floating metal detector that can capture high-resolution images of the seabed. That's when Kyle Kennedy, CEO of Seafarer Exploration, met a man who said, "Sure. I can build you this machine." His name was Dr. Michael Torres.  
    Kyle Kennedy claims that Michael Torres presented himself as an aeronautical engineer who graduated with a doctorate degree from Duke University. Torres also said he taught at MIT Draper labs and represented the NSA while also working on multiple classified government contracts. Kyle Kennedy couldn't believe it. This Dr. Michael Torres guy was perfect! And on top of an unbelievable resume, Kennedy says that Dr. Torres was a wounded war hero, who served two tours in Afghanistan. He was even awarded the Purple Heart medal. 
    The lawsuit
    Fast-forward a few years later, Kyle Kennedy is now suing Michael Torres for fraud. He says Michael Torres is a con artist who faked his credential. 
    So, who is this guy? Dr. Michael Torres? I'm going to track him down to find out if he really is who they say he is. It turns out that the conman in this story is not who you would expect.
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    • 41 min
    S605: The Inheritance

    S605: The Inheritance

    A man says his best friend scammed him out of almost $100,000. Now, he's getting revenge.

    Jonathan Walton fell for the oldest trick in the book. He said, “It wasn't some Nigerian Prince emailing me in my spam folder. It was a living, breathing, lovable woman.” That lovable woman’s name is Mair Smyth. She’s also known as Marianne Smyth, or Marianne Andle, or Marianne Welch. She has 23 known aliases.
    The way Johnathan Walton describes her, Marianne Smyth is a gifted con artist who brilliantly juggles lies with ease. Each lie gracefully circles in the air, passing through her hands, without ever getting caught. But when she decided to rip off Johnathan Walton, she picked the wrong mark. 
    You can learn more about this story by visiting https://johnathanwalton.com/

    Bonus episode
    Historical Cons - The man who sold the Brooklyn Bridge

    Patreon exclusive episode
    This is the first in a series of new Patreon only episodes. The series will focus on historical con artists. Today's episode is about the man who sold the Brooklyn Bridge.
    This week, I'm joined by Rebekah Sebastian with the Die-alogue podcast and the Yellowtape true crime trivia show. 
    Listen here:
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    • 51 min
    S604: How to disappear part 4

    S604: How to disappear part 4

    Confessions of a former identity thief 
    Dartanyon A. Williams stole his parents' identities at the age of 15. Unfortunately, they weren’t his last victims. Dartanyon, who also goes by DAW, claims he has stolen thousands of identities. So many that he lost count. 
    How to steal someone’s identity
    How did he do it? He had many tactics. But the most proven technique was paying off employees at restaurants, car dealerships, and tax preparation companies. These employees served as double agents. When no one was looking, they would collect customer social security numbers and smuggle them to DAW. Today, DAW’s life of crime is behind him. He’s currently running for congress this November for the U.S. House to represent Louisiana's 6th Congressional District. 
    How to protect your identity
    These days, it’s just as easy to steal your identity from a breached database. Everything an identity thief needs to steal your identity is already online. What can you do to protect yourself? 
    Click here to see if your email has been involved in a breached database:
    Freezing your credit and setting up a fraud alert
    I’ve taken the extreme step of freezing my credit. It’s actually not really that extreme. In fact, it’s quite easy. In this episode, you’ll hear how simple it is to lock down your credit so that no one can assume your identity. 
    Michael Bazzell, a privacy consultant, walks me through the credit freeze process. For more details, download his step-by-step guide. 
    Essentially, get a free credit report from one of the credit bureaus, then ask them to freeze your credit. This way, no one can open a line of credit under your name. If you ever need to unfreeze your credit, it’s easy. Just unfreeze your credit by going online or with a quick phone call. 
    Online: https://www.equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services/credit-freeze/
    Online: https://www.experian.com/freeze/center.html
    Online: https://service.transunion.com/dss/orderStep1_form.page

    Michael Bazzell
    To learn more about Michael Bazzell, check out his website IntelTechniques.com and listen to his podcast The Privacy, Security, & OSINT show. 
    I also recommend you buy a copy of Extreme Privacy: What it takes to disappear.
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    • 54 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
96 Ratings

96 Ratings


Fascinating, well researched, well told stories!

Would highly recommend. I wait impatiently for new episodes! 😊

alivanbaba ,


Fabulous work!! Intriguing, interesting, thought provoking! Subject matter that is different! Great job!!

Joelle1985 ,

Can’t stop listening

Excellent quality. Excellent narrator. Excellent stories. Makes you think about the nature of the things called humans. Can’t stop listening

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