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ABC News will debut the new primetime series "The Con," narrated by Emmy®, GRAMMY®, Tony® and Oscar® winner and The View moderator Whoopi Goldberg, on Wednesday, Oct. 14. The series explores the troubling tales of people taken in by claims and promises that proved too good to be true, from identity fraud and misleading romance to the high-profile college admission scandal and Fyre Festival. It will reveal how the victims were fooled and the cost of their false trust – emotional and financial. "The Con" will feature interviews with the key people caught up in the cons, including victims and eyewitnesses, and, in some cases, law enforcement and the perpetrators themselves. The series will lift the curtain on the people behind some of the most outrageous cons ever. "The Con" kicks off Wednesday, Oct. 14 (10:02-11:00 p.m. EDT), on ABC. 

In the series premiere, Goldberg introduces viewers to Benita Alexander, an award-winning documentary television producer and single mother, and Paolo Macchiarini, an internationally renowned surgeon. Alexander meets Macchiarini while producing a documentary on his groundbreaking surgical techniques using stem cells in synthetic trachea transplants. Despite crossing professional lines, Alexander finds herself wooed by Macchiarini's charm, intellect and good looks, and the pair quickly falls in love. After traveling the world together, the couple gets engaged and, according to Alexander, Macchiarini tells her he wants to take over planning the wedding. It quickly becomes a grand, fairy-tale affair with an impressive guest list, including Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and Elton John. He says they'll even be married by the pope. However, weeks before their Italian wedding, Alexander realizes things aren't as perfect as they seem and uses her investigative producer skills to uncover the truth behind Macchiarini and the planned wedding.

At around the same time, the Karolinska Institute, where Macchiarini performed some of his transplant surgeries, has been digging into allegations from Macchiarini's colleagues that he fabricated parts of his medical research.  Macchiarini eventually loses his position at the institute.  His groundbreaking surgeries have been under investigation by Swedish prosecutors, and just last week he was indicted on charges of aggravated assault relating to three of his surgeries. A court date has yet to be set and Macchiarini has not yet entered a plea. He has denied all of the allegations against him. The premiere episode includes interviews with Alexander, her friends, family and former co-workers.

Each week, "The Con" will document a different con and its victims. Future episodes feature the stories of Johnathan Walton and con artist Marianne Smyth, who claimed to be an Irish heiress whose family was trying to swindle her out of her massive inheritance; Anthony Gignac of Michigan, who created a false identity to deceive people into thinking he was a member of the Saudi royal family; and the story of three women who paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to psychic frauds who preyed on their vulnerability and dependency. 

 

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This was interesting. I'd never heard of this story so now I have to fall down THAT rabbit hole. It's interesting how complacent people can become under the right con. That she pulled her kid out of school and quit her job without having ever seen the Barcelona home was... something. 

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Interesting show. As a Dateline/ 48 Hours watcher it was good to know that she wasn't going to end up dead. The show makes a good point about how easy it is to be conned by someone who appears to be sane and successful. She met him while doing a news story on his ground-breaking surgery; it's not she met him on a dating app. He clearly had money and connections around the world, so when he started embellishing bit by bit, it was easy for her believe.  

I have the same question they all had at the end... what was his end game? Maybe these guys just like the thrill and don't think about that.  

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15 minutes ago, TVbitch said:

Interesting show. As a Dateline/ 48 Hours watcher it was good to know that she wasn't going to end up dead. The show makes a good point about how easy it is to be conned by someone who appears to be sane and successful. She met him while doing a news story on his ground-breaking surgery; it's not she met him on a dating app. He clearly had money and connections around the world, so when he started embellishing bit by bit, it was easy for her believe.  

I have the same question they all had at the end... what was his end game? Maybe these guys just like the thrill and don't think about that.  

It would make a good season 3 of Dirty John.

It seems like some of these people, like Billy McFarland and the fake heiress, didn't have an endgame. They were just kinda hoping it all magically came together at the end. Or something. I never understood John, either. Debra loved him. He had access to her money. He could've had a good life if he hadn't started screwing with her. I think some of them are addicted to that thrill.

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I am aware of the case, but I was not aware of the show Dirty John. Is it good? I should preface that by saying I can't stand shows that do re-enactments.

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Dear Benita,

I have a bridge in Brooklyn that I'd like to sell you.  Because if you believe that dude, you'd believe anything.   I mean the red flags were not only flying, they were dancing and singing.  

Isn't the purpose of a con to have an end game?  What was the point of this?  Not like he was taking money from her.  I don't get why this is a con.  See, Benita thought she was all that, so of course this wealthy, powerful man would want her.  WRONG.  A guy like that would be looking for a twenty-five year old trophy wife.  

And then her friend sitting there crying saying, what would you do?  I'm like, "Girl, I wouldn't have believed this motherfucker."  She pulled her daughter out of school and quit her job without even seeing the house in Barcelona?  Without even seeing divorce papers?  I mean didn't she even Google the guy?

I would ask Benita, "if you met a man who was a bus driver or a plumber, would you have gone head over heels in love with him?"

 

 

Edited by Neurochick
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3 hours ago, TVbitch said:

I am aware of the case, but I was not aware of the show Dirty John. Is it good? I should preface that by saying I can't stand shows that do re-enactments.

Dirty John is a scripted series about men playing dirty. This Paolo guy would fit right in because John was also a good-looking conman who pretended to be in the medical field (he was, sort of) and conned his way into the heart of a successful business woman.

Season 1: John and Debra (the series is based on this article and podcast) https://www.latimes.com/projects/la-me-dirty-john/

Season 2: Betty Broderick and Dan 

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5 hours ago, mamadrama said:

I never understood John, either. Debra loved him. He had access to her money. He could've had a good life if he hadn't started screwing with her. I think some of them are addicted to that thrill.

John was a drug addict and the insanity of his addiction was his downfall. 

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4 hours ago, Neurochick said:

have a bridge in Brooklyn that I'd like to sell you.  Because if you believe that dude, you'd believe anything.   I mean the red flags were not only flying, they were dancing and singing.  

 

I didn’t watch the show but read the article in Vanity Fair and the bullshit she bought was truly astounding. Yeah sure the Pope is going to marry two divorced people, no problems! I came away from that article not really liking or respecting her and giving crazy side to the medical community.

I probably will not watch this ep but will check out next weeks.

Edited by biakbiak
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On 10/16/2020 at 1:44 PM, Neurochick said:

A guy like that would be looking for a twenty-five year old trophy wife.  

Bingo!  My favorite point of all in your spot on post!  Benita & her whole crew didn't have the collective IQ of a goose.

On 10/16/2020 at 1:44 PM, Neurochick said:

would ask Benita, "if you met a man who was a bus driver or a plumber, would you have gone head over heels in love with him?"

And there's the rub and why I like a good con or catfish story!  The "victim" is usually taken in because of their own greed or inflated ego.  

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I've also seen interviews with catfish "victims" who are actually part of the con, taking payments from others, and sending the money to the scammer.   

 I've never seen someone on a catfish show (Dr. Phil or others) that actually stopped sending money to their scammer.  They might say they will, but you know they're sending more the first time they can. 

There was one on Dr. Phil that refused to believe the boyfriend wasn't legit, and was cashing checks his other victims sent in, and sending the money to the scammer.    She didn't even believe anything was wrong when the authorities told her she was going to be charged with money laundering, and would lose everything, plus get jail time.  

A woman who lived near where I lived a few years ago was arrested by the Feds.   She was taking in tons of packages, relabeling, and sending the packages overseas.    When she was arrested the last batch hadn't been picked up yet, and it was over $250k in merchandise.   Communications, and computer items were purchased using another person's identity the scammers stole.    Virtually all of the computer and communications equipment was not able to be sent overseas because of it's military applications.     I don't know if the total amount she received and resent was ever announced.    The way everything came to light was the victim of the credit theft called the police when he saw what was being charged to him, and the police contacted the federal investigators, and it all traced to that stupid woman near me.    I know a lot of people who knew her, and they said she was as dumb as a box of hammers.     I never heard another word about what happened to her either.  

Edited by CrazyInAlabama
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As usual with con stories I find them interesting but I’m  not sympathetic to the victims. She lost her mind!  If she was an Emmy winning reporter, as she gloated to Dr. Macaroni at the end, Why didn’t she apply those skills at the beginning?  

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2 hours ago, GussieK said:

As usual with con stories I find them interesting but I’m  not sympathetic to the victims. She lost her mind!  If she was an Emmy winning reporter, as she gloated to Dr. Macaroni at the end, Why didn’t she apply those skills at the beginning?  

I'm having trouble with that, too. This was not a sheltered woman, ignorant to the ways of the world. She had some money. She traveled. She gave everything up based on a promise. We could say that some of the foreigners do that on 90Day Fiance, but this goes way beyond that. She had the means to look into him and her purported new life, she just didn't.

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14 hours ago, CrazyInAlabama said:

I've never seen someone on a catfish show (Dr. Phil or others) that actually stopped sending money to their scammer.  They might say they will, but you know they're sending more the first time they can. 

Dr Schill gets on my last nerve, but I do love his catfish epis.  The level of delusion is off the chain. I don't even get it, don't those old fools own mirrors?  I'm this many years old and know damned well that no Antonio Banderas look alike is gonna lust over my old hide.  Those stupid old broads have chins/necks like a pelican and think some dude 30 years their junior is sporting wood for them?  Sheesh.

 

"She had the means to look into him and her purported new life, she just didn't."

IKR?? That part sets off my hinky meter!  I'm just a reg working stiff, but if I ever started to get serious with someone, I'd pony up a few bills with a local PI and get the background lowdown.  A legit freaking "journalist" should never have been hookwinked to that degree.

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4 hours ago, zillabreeze said:

IKR?? That part sets off my hinky meter!  I'm just a reg working stiff, but if I ever started to get serious with someone, I'd pony up a few bills with a local PI and get the background lowdown.  A legit freaking "journalist" should never have been hookwinked to that degree.

She didn't even need to do all that. 

She quit her job.  She pulled her daughter out of school (that last part bugs me).  She had never even been to the home on Barcelona, where they were supposed to live.  How can you assume everything was on the up and up when you haven't even been to the man's home, where YOU and YOUR CHILD are supposed to live?  

My mom watched this last night, she had questions.  Did she have to pay for all those gowns?  Also, what did that man think was going to happen when all those people showed up in Italy and had nowhere to stay and there was no wedding?  Don't get it.

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That's what I don't get, he really took this to the end of the line, still claiming the wedding was on and all was well. I mean, did he just want it to end in a big disaster at the palace?  That would surely become news and shine a big light on him as a con. He could have just told her a couple weeks before "oops I'm gonna stay with my ex" which would have pissed her off but not become a media story. I don't get it! 

I cut this woman more slack than the delusional Dr. Phil ladies, cuz this guy actually was who he said he was, was spending all kinds of time with her, was taking her on trips, and spending a shit ton of money on her. He clearly WAS into her ...just as a side piece. 

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1 hour ago, TVbitch said:

That's what I don't get, he really took this to the end of the line, still claiming the wedding was on and all was well. I mean, did he just want it to end in a big disaster at the palace?  That would surely become news and shine a big light on him as a con. He could have just told her a couple weeks before "oops I'm gonna stay with my ex" which would have pissed her off but not become a media story. I don't get it! 

I cut this woman more slack than the delusional Dr. Phil ladies, cuz this guy actually was who he said he was, was spending all kinds of time with her, was taking her on trips, and spending a shit ton of money on her. He clearly WAS into her ...just as a side piece. 

I don't get it, either. It's a little like the Fyre Festival. What did they think people would do when they showed up and had no villa? No activities? No 5* dining?

Maybe Paolo was so delusional he literally thought things would magically come together at the end. If he planned on breaking up with her a week before the wedding. This was a weird one.

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21 hours ago, mamadrama said:

I don't get it, either. It's a little like the Fyre Festival. What did they think people would do when they showed up and had no villa? No activities? No 5* dining?

Maybe Paolo was so delusional he literally thought things would magically come together at the end. If he planned on breaking up with her a week before the wedding. This was a weird one.

 

21 hours ago, mamadrama said:

I don't get it, either. It's a little like the Fyre Festival. What did they think people would do when they showed up and had no villa? No activities? No 5* dining?

Maybe Paolo was so delusional he literally thought things would magically come together at the end. If he planned on breaking up with her a week before the wedding. This was a weird one.

I think these people are so delusional they just don't think of the end game.  They are so caught up in the compulsion to self-aggrandize that it doesn't stop them.  What did Bernie Madoff think each day?  He just compartmentalized? 

I react more to the fact that this reporter didn't exercise common sense.  After the scientific misconduct allegations were revealed, she should have been running away!  But she continued buying wedding dresses.  And who lets a prospective husband arrange a wedding in another country with absolutely no participation?  So many red flags. 

Edited by GussieK
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2 hours ago, GussieK said:

 

I think these people are so delusional they just don't think of the end game.  They are so caught up in the compulsion to self-aggrandize that it doesn't stop them.  What did Bernie Madoff think each day?  He just compartmentalized? 

I react more to the fact that this reporter didn't exercise common sense.  After the scientific misconduct allegations were revealed, she should have been running away!  But she continued buying wedding dresses.  And who lets a prospective husband arrange a wedding in another country with absolutely no participation?  So many red flags. 

Yeah, I know we're not meant to victim blame but some of her choices were very poor-like pulling her kid out of school and quitting her job before she'd even seen the house in Barcelona.

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3 minutes ago, mamadrama said:

Yeah, I know we're not meant to victim blame but some of her choices were very poor-like pulling her kid out of school and quitting her job before she'd even seen the house in Barcelona.

I don't like to victim blame either, but at least here she was not a big financial victim.  Unless we are not getting the full story, she didn't give him a lot of money.  Her main financial loss seems to be paying for those wedding dresses and leaving her job.  He didn't seem to be in it for a financial con.

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I just watched this and cannot believe this woman. I’m a journalist myself and we are a curious lot. And I have never met a woman who wanted zero input in her own wedding or who would be willing to bring her daughter to a home in another country she has never seen.

Paulo seems to be one of those grandiose liars who gets thrills out of conning people. My friend met a guy like this 20 years ago. He was a car salesman but claimed to be a famous lawyer who sold cars while getting his Chicago license. He also claimed to live in the penthouse in the John Hancock building and owned a yacht that he was going to take her on a trip around the world. I finally couldn’t stand it and I and proved to her pretty quickly that he was lying. I still don’t know what he wanted; my friend didn’t have money and he never asked for anything.

The only person I feel bad for us the little girl who already lost her dad and was a victim to her mom wanting to meet celebrities and be a princess. I also feel terrible about this guys patient me who died because of this man’s arrogance. I know they were already very ill but had to go thru so much because of his lies.

Edited by Madding crowd
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56 minutes ago, GussieK said:

I don't like to victim blame either, but at least here she was not a big financial victim.  Unless we are not getting the full story, she didn't give him a lot of money.  Her main financial loss seems to be paying for those wedding dresses and leaving her job.  He didn't seem to be in it for a financial con.

Yes, that was the good thing. The worst part, other than the embarassment, is that a child was involved. 

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7 minutes ago, Madding crowd said:

The only person I feel bad for us the little girl who already lost her dad and was a victim to her mom wanting to meet celebrities and be a princess. I also feel terrible about this guys patient me who died because of this man’s arrogance. I know they were already very ill but had to go thru so much because of his lies.

I agree.  I don't consider that woman a victim.  I consider her daughter a victim though.  Benita Alexander wanted to live the high life.  She wanted to be a celebrity herself.  I think the reason she was documenting everything was because she wanted to put it all on Instagram.

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Really, what kind of an SOB does that to a child who just lost her father.  Disgraceful.  

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