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.
Archive Episode: Honolulu’s Power Couple Caught: Mortgage Scam, Part 1
In this 2021 episode, Katherine and Louis Kealoha report that their mailbox has been stolen, a strange occurrence in the upscale Honolulu neighborhood of Kahala. Even stranger is that Katherine claims that her uncle Gerard Puana is the mailbox thief, an accusation he vehemently denies. When the case goes to court, though, the Kealohas’ secrets are exposed, revealing a terrible case of family financial fraud.
Bonus: Top 5 Things to Know About Crypto Scams
Thieves think that stolen cryptocurrency is the perfect crime — anonymous, secret and safe from seizure. But prosecutor Erin West and her team are proving them wrong, recovering millions of dollars in stolen cryptocurrency and returning it back to victims. West is a six-year veteran of REACT (Regional Enforcement Allied Computer Team), a cross-agency task force addressing the escalating problem of high technology crime. In this special episode, Bob talks with Erin about the top five things everyone should know about cryptocurrency scams, including whether money lost to scams is recoverable and if scams are traceable. Erin will discuss steps that can be taken if you’ve experienced a crypto scam, as well as the impact law enforcement can have when agencies have the right tools, knowledge and collaboration.
Boat Captain Falls in Love With a Ghost
Keith is retired from his cybersecurity career and spends his time as a boat captain taking people on scenic cruises of Cape Cod Bay. He isn’t really looking for love when he receives an online friend request from a divorcee named Anna, who is based in Hong Kong. A long-distance romance develops, and they make plans for Anna to accompany Keith to his daughter’s wedding. When Anna tells Keith about an investment opportunity in foreign currencies, he is intrigued. But Keith will soon learn that Anna might not be the person he thinks she is and that similar cryptocurrency scams are skyrocketing in New England.
One Woman’s Story of Survival After a Scam, Part 2
In part 2, after a scammer she meets playing Words With Friends steals most of her family’s savings, Kathy is so distraught that she attempts to take her own life. She survives thanks to the quick actions of her husband and police, and with the support of her family and professional help, Kathy starts on the road to recovery. The emotional wounds of scams are deep, but Kathy is healing by sharing her story. She hopes that others who might be feeling the way that she did know that there is life and even joy after a scam — Kathy and her husband recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.
One Woman’s Story of Survival After a Scam, Part 1
Like many of us, Kathy struggles in the early days of the pandemic to adjust to isolation from family and friends. She enjoys the diversion of playing Words With Friends and soon strikes up a friendship with a fellow player. For months the friends continue playing online games and chatting on WhatsApp, until one day he asks Kathy for a loan. He says he is stuck in Mexico and having trouble accessing his accounts. Kathy sees no harm in helping out a friend, especially when he promises to quickly pay the money back. When the repayments never come, Kathy comes to the devasting realization that it was a scam and that most of her and her husband’s retirement savings are gone. Distraught and ashamed, Kathy begins to have thoughts of suicide. This is the story of one woman’s survival from the darkest of days.
This episode contains discussion of suicide. If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call or text 988, a free nationwide service where professionals can listen and get you the help you need.
Scam Victim Turns Movie Star
Jerry Hsu, a retired engineer living in Florida, receives a phone call from someone claiming to be his cellphone provider. They are threatening to cut off his service because the Shanghai Police Department says Jerry is speaking out against the Chinese government and engaging in money laundering. As a Taiwanese immigrant, Jerry is frightened; there must be a misunderstanding. The person on the other end of the line is very persistent and convinces Jerry to work as a secret agent for the police, and he eventually wires up to $1 million from his bank account in order to protect himself. After Jerry transfers the last of his life savings and realizes this was all a scam, he shares what’s happened with his son, who is a filmmaker in New York City. The father-son duo then decide the best way to share Jerry’s unfortunate experience and alert other families is to create a documentary film. And in this heartbreaking yet -warming film, Jerry plays himself.
I just listened to the two-part podcasts titled, One Woman’s Story of Survival After a scam, a second time because it was so riveting and handled the topic of suicide in a gentle, yet, straightforward manner.
Thank you Bob Sullivan & AARP Fraud Watch Network for the work you of informing the public & providing resources for help!
AARP IS BEING SCAMMED BY FRANK ABAGNALE
I can’t listen to this podcast because the cohost IS a scam artist. Disgusting.
I am very grateful for the good work everyone involved in the show is doing. The show is very informative. I have learned a lot and shared with anyone who will listen to help everyone be aware and hopefully even listen to the podcast themselves. The 8/19/2022 episode has a horrible sound that was used to help listeners understand what the guests went through, but they left it on too long for the podcast audience; that should be edited.