12 episodes

Your one-stop podcast for all the most outrageous scams, grifts, cons, frauds, chicanery, swindles, and flimflammery.

American Grift American Grift

    • Society & Culture

Your one-stop podcast for all the most outrageous scams, grifts, cons, frauds, chicanery, swindles, and flimflammery.

    Episode 11: Aunt Becky's College Admissions Scam

    Episode 11: Aunt Becky's College Admissions Scam

    We're back, baby, with an hour on the college admissions scam dubbed "Operation Varsity Blues" by the FBI. Comedian Gabe Gonzalez and freelance writer Aly Semigran join Oriana to talk about how weird it is that bribes to colleges are legal if they come in the form of a building you buy.

    Reading: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/5766243-College-Admissions-Case-Complaint.html

    • 1 hr 1 min
    Episode 10: Instagram Influencers

    Episode 10: Instagram Influencers

    We're back from hiatus with a crazy one about how rotten the dark heart of Instagram Influencing is, told through the lens of one particular "Influencer": Caroline Calloway. Pajiba pop culture writer and critic Kayleigh Donaldson joins Oriana to talk about parasocial relationships, ghostwriting, and empty mason jars.

    (First read Kayleigh's definitive story: http://www.pajiba.com/web_culture/the-case-of-caroline-calloway-and-her-creativity-workshop-tour.php)

    Photo by Jo Naylor via Flickr Creative Commons (https://www.flickr.com/photos/pandora_6666/)

    • 54 min
    Episode 9: Jho Low, the Billion Dollar Whale

    Episode 9: Jho Low, the Billion Dollar Whale

    Jho Low and his fellow schemers made off with $2.7 billion in one of the most extensive grifts of all time. Did you like the movie The Wolf of Wall Street? Well, it was financed with money from this scheme.

    Oriana talks with NY Post reporter Kevin Dugan and The Verge reporter Sean O'Kane about this Stefon bit of a grift. Maybe get yourself a copy of "Billion Dollar Whale" (by Wall Street Journal reporters Bradley Hope and Tom Wright) before listening.

    Photo from Jessica Simpson (https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeslettt/) via Flickr under Creative Commons license.

    • 1 hr 4 min
    Episode 8: Can You Ever Forgive Us, Lee Israel?

    Episode 8: Can You Ever Forgive Us, Lee Israel?

    Lee Israel serves as the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come for Oriana. Kristy Puchko of Pajiba and Aly Semigran join her to discuss the literary forger, author of the beautifully sharp memoir "Can You Ever Forgive Me?" and subject of the equally beautiful and sharp movie of the same name starring Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant.

    Oh also the Grift of the Week is these dummies: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/n-j-woman-alleged-gofundme-scam-was-duped-boyfriend-homeless-n937986

    • 1 hr 5 min
    Episode 7: The Wine Crimes of Rudy Kurniawan

    Episode 7: The Wine Crimes of Rudy Kurniawan

    Who's Rudy Kurniawan, and what was his wine crime—pairing a malbec with tuna?

    No, Rudy sold fake fine wine. Lots of it. You can learn more by watching the documentary "Sour Grapes" on Netflix.

    Our Grift of the Week (this was recorded nearly a month ago) is the Trump family, thanks to a lawsuit alleging they lent their name to a number of get-rich-quick schemes. Read more about it here:https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/29/nyregion/trump-acn-lawsuit.html

    Photo courtesy of Dale Cruse via Flickr (Creative Commons license)

    • 58 min
    Episode 6: DashCon/TanaCon

    Episode 6: DashCon/TanaCon

    Oriana, Fast Company News Editor Christopher Zara, and Internet Culture Expert Sarah Hayden discuss the twin shitshows of Dashcon and Tanacon along with parasocial relationships and fandom! Two Gen Y-ers and a Gen X-er talking about the Kids These Days. What could possibly go wrong?

    Also, Facebook is the Grift of the Week. Dismantle Facebook.

    Reading: http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2018/06/what-happened-at-tanacon.html

    https://www.dailydot.com/parsec/dash-con-controversy-tumblr/

    • 1 hr 8 min

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