Podcast Brunch Club

SCAMS: April 2023 podcast playlist

SCAMS: Podcast Brunch Club podcast playlist: like book club, but for podcasts.

People are captivated by stories about scams because they often involve elements of deception, betrayal, and intrigue, which can be very compelling. Stories about scams also tap into our natural curiosity about human behavior and the lengths to which some individuals will go to gain power, money, or fame. Furthermore, scam stories can provide valuable insights into the psychology of fraudsters and how they are able to manipulate and exploit their victims. Ultimately, these stories can be both entertaining and educational, allowing us to learn from the mistakes of others and better protect ourselves from falling prey to scams in the future. This playlist explores the theme of SCAMS – from catfishing to fake kidnappings.

This playlist was curated with help from Jenna Spinelle, leader of PBC’s global virtual chapter, founder of The Democracy Group, host & producer of the Democracy Works podcast, and host of When the People Decide podcast.

Podcast Playlist on SCAMS

Get the full playlist on your podcast player of choice using these platforms:

This Month’s Podcast Playlist Running List of PBC Podcast Playlists
Listen Notes | PodchaserPodyssey | Spotify Listen Notes | PodchaserPodyssey | Spotify

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Reply All: “#102 Long Distance” (July 2017, 51 min)
A telephone scammer makes a terrible mistake. He calls Alex Goldman.

The Perfect Scam: “The Virtual Kidnapping of a Gymnast” (October 2022, 35 min)
When Sheratan Johnson receives a call from an unknown number, she’s startled to hear the man on the other end of the line claim he’s kidnapped her daughter from gymnastics class. Hearing her daughter’s screams, Sheraton follows all the kidnapper’s demands, and also texts her ex-husband, Brian, who goes into battle mode. Armed and ready to take on the kidnapper, he races across the city to get their daughter back, leading to a dramatic confrontation at a foreclosed house.

Sweet Bobby: “1. Sliding Doors” (October 2021, 31 min)
Kirat is a successful marketer and radio presenter. Online, she’s contacted by a man she vaguely knows called Bobby, and they start chatting. Slowly, they become close… and she’s reeled in to a scam of epic proportions.

Throughline: “Planned Obsolescence” (December 2019, 35 min)
Have you ever wondered why your smartphone or toaster oven doesn’t seem to last very long, even though technology is becoming better and better? In a special collaboration with Planet Money, we bring you the history of planned obsolescence – the idea that products are designed to break.

Swindled: “Bonus: The Promotion (McDonald’s Monopoly)” (January 2020, 24 min)
In a scheme that lasted over a decade, Jerome “Uncle Jerry” Jacobson defrauded fast-food giant McDonald’s for over $20 million by rigging the promotional Monopoly game.

Bonus podcast episodes:

  • Reply All: “#103 Long Distance, Part II” (August 2017, 48 min)
    If you suspect you are a victim of a tech support scammer, you see a suspicious pop-up, or get an unsolicited tech support email, you can make a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission by following this link, or by contacting the company that the call center was impersonating directly.
  • Criminal: “Episode 51: Money Tree” (September 2016, 29 min)
    When Axton Betz-Hamilton was 11 years old, her parents’ identities were stolen. At that time, in the early 90s, consumer protection services for identity theft victims were basically non-existent. So the family dealt with the consequences as best they could. But when Axton Betz-Hamilton got to college, she realized that her identity had been stolen, too. In fact, her credit score was in the lowest 2%. As she was working to restore her credit, she inadvertently discovered who had stolen the family’s identity: a woman named Pam Elliot. And knowing it was Pam Elliot would change everything for Axton Betz-Hamilton.
  • Love, Janessa: “Episode 1: From My World to Yours” (January 2023, 36 min)
    New Year’s Eve. Simon receives a message from a beautiful stranger, named Shirley: “Greetings…from my world to yours.” A digital flirtation begins. Then Shirley needs cash – fast. Shirley’s photo is actually adult entertainment “cam girl” Janessa Brazil and many accounts are using her image to lure victims. Who is Janessa? Has she any idea that she’s the bait in worldwide catfishing schemes? Please note, this series contains adult themes and strong language.
  • Nobody Panic: “How to Spot a Scam” (August 2022, 37 min)
    Tessa nearly became a criminal and Stevie got scammed by the same people twice. Here’s what they learned and here’s how you can avoid making the same mistakes. Also, crucially, how you shouldn’t feel like a big idiot when it happens to you.
  • Code Switch: “The Original ‘Welfare Queen’” (June 2019, 32 min)
    It’s a pernicious stereotype, but it was coined in reference to a real woman named Linda Taylor. But her misdeeds were far more numerous and darker than welfare fraud. This week: how politicians used one outlier’s story to turn the public against government programs for the poor.

Conversation Starter Questions:

  1. Have you ever been the victim of a scam or known someone who has? What happened?
  2. What do you think makes people susceptible to falling for scams?
  3. What are some common types of scams that you have heard of or experienced?
  4. How do you typically protect yourself from scams when online or over the phone?
  5. Do you think the rise of technology has made it easier or harder for scammers to operate? Why?
  6. Have you ever been approached by someone in person who you suspected was trying to scam you? How did you handle the situation?
  7. How do you think the government and law enforcement can better protect people from scams?
  8. Have you ever researched a product or service before purchasing it to make sure it wasn’t a scam? What did you find?
  9. Have you ever confronted someone who you suspected was trying to scam you or someone else? How did it go?


  • If it’s not too late, I’d like to suggest my podcast, Scams & Cons for your list. We were connected last year by Chris Krimitsos from Podfest.

    Thanks for your consideration.


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