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From Inventing Anna to The Dropout: The 12 best TV shows about con artists.

So far in 2022, stories about cons and scams have become our most talked about TV series. 

Tales of deceit have taken over the true crime genre, fascinating us with their audacity, lack of remorse and yes, entertainment value. In the past couple of months, we've had Netflix's much-talked about The Tinder Swindler, Disney+'s well-received miniseries The Dropout and much in between.

Basically, con artists are having a real moment.

Interested? From dramatised series to jaw-dropping documentaries, here are a list of shows about swindlers, scams and cons to sink your teeth into.

The Dropout.

Image: Disney+.

Money. Romance. Tragedy. Deception... The Dropout is TV gold.

Telling the true story of Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos, Amanda Seyfried plays the disgraced billionaire in this genre highlight.

If you're unfamiliar with the true story of Theranos: Holmes created a company based on a blood-testing device that didn't work like she said it did, and in the process, she ripped off millions of dollars from hundreds of investors, including some of the wealthiest people in the world.

But the story is made even more interesting by additional details, like the fact that she kept a relationship with her Chief Operation Officer secret for years and trained herself to lower her voice into a deep baritone.

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The Dropout is a limited series based on the podcast of the same name, which explores the con that captured the world's interest. 

The Dropout is streaming on Disney+.

Read more: The true story behind The Dropout, one of the most anticipated TV series of 2022.

Inventing Anna.

Image: Netflix.

The story of Anna Delvey feels like it was made for the screen.

For four years, Delvey, as she was known by Manhattan's elite, enjoyed a life full of private jets, designer clothing and grand events. As a millionaire German heiress, she was readily invited into the 'who's who' of New York City.

Except... she wasn't actually a millionaire German heiress. And Anna Delvey didn't even exist.

Delvey's real name was Anna Sorokin, and she was a Russian-born fraudster. 

Inventing Anna tells the story of Delvey, played by Ozark's Julia Garner, her web of deception, and the investigation by New York magazine journalist Jessica Pressler which ultimately led to her downfall.

Inventing Anna is streaming on Netflix.

Read more:

Dirty John.

Image: Netflix.

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Based on the extremely popular podcast of the same name, the first season of anthology series Dirty John follows the true story of Debra Newell and Dr John Meehan.

After meeting on an online dating site, Newport Beach-based businesswoman Debra moved in with John and less than two months later, they married in secret.

But unfortunately for the mother-of-four, John was not who he claimed to be.

Debra believed John was an anaesthetist, who had just returned from a year in Iraq with Doctors Without Borders.

Instead, he turned out to be a compulsive liar, a manipulator and a highly experienced con artist.

Dirty John is streaming on Netflix.

The Tinder Swindler.

Image: Netflix.

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In January 2018, Simon Leviev flew Cecilie Fjellhøy from London to Bulgaria on a private jet for their first date. They had met on Tinder, and after learning Leviev was the son of a diamond oligarch, Fjellhøy agreed to the trip and began a whirlwind romance.

It took Fjellhøy months, hundreds of thousands of dollars and a kidnapping plot to figure out that everything he had ever told her was a lie.

In Netflix's true crime documentary, Fjellhøy, and two other victims of Simon, share their stories of how the con man swindled them out of a fortune.

The Tinder Swindler is streaming on Netflix.

Read more: 

Love Fraud.

Image: Stan.

For more than 20 years, Richard Scott Smith wooed unsuspecting women, played the perfect partner, then took off – with their bank accounts drained.

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Tracy. Ellen. Sabrina. Jean. Rachel. Jennifer. Angela. Lisa. Vanessa. More than one Heather.

Love Fraud, a four-part docuseries that feels like Catfish meets Dirty John, documents Smith's decades of fraud and conning women, most in their 40s or 50s, out of their life savings along with their dignity and confidence.

Smith would perform different roles for each woman. Sometimes, he was a passionate Christian and sometimes he was an atheist. He would change his name or backstory, and claim he was about to come into millions of dollars due to a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Sometimes, the women would have inklings that something was wrong. They'd Google him to find a blog called 'scottthecrooksmith', with his face plastered on top.

"Has this man victimised you?" it asks. There are more than 50 comments from women - some still married to Smith, some still seeking a divorce. It is, effectively, a dossier of his crimes.

Then, the women decided to get revenge.

Love Fraud is streaming on Stan.

I Care a Lot.

Image: Amazon Prime Video.

In I Care a Lot, Rosamund Pike plays Marla Grayson, a shady court-appointed guardian for the elderly who scams them out of their assets.

Unfortunately for her, Marla's most recent victim happens to be the mother of a prominent mob boss, played by Peter Dinklage. What ensues is a darkly funny, perfectly cast game of cat and mouse.

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I Care a Lot is not technically based on a true story, but came to fruition after writer/director J Blakeson read a news story about real-like shady guardians, so the premise has some element of truth.

I Care a Lot is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened.

Image: Netflix.

Have you ever found yourself awake at 3am, going over every little mistake you've ever made? Well same. Next time that happens, at least you can remind yourself that you weren't the one behind the infamous Fyre Festival.

In April 2017, thousands of wealthy Americans descended onto the island of Great Exhuma in the Bahamas.

The Fyre Festival attendees, many of whom were Instagram influencers, had spent thousands of dollars to attend what was supposed to be a luxury music festival on a private island. Instead, they ended up sleeping in rain-soaked tents, eating stale cheese sandwiches, and waiting for hours for return flights home.

Fyre charts the history of the ill-fated Fyre Music Festival. From its inception to its ultimate unravelling, the documentary explores what went wrong, one step at a time.

From models frolicking with pigs on a beach, to a man who was "prepared to suck d*ck" to ensure there was enough drinkable water... yeah. It's one hell of a ride.

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(Oh and check out Inventing Anna for the Anna Delvey/Billy McFarland crossover we didn't know we needed.)

Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened is streaming on Netflix.

The Puppet Master: Hunting the Ultimate Conman.

Image: Netflix.

The Puppet Master: Hunting the Ultimate Conman focuses on British conman Robert Freegard, who pretends he is an MI5 agent and convinces his victims they are in danger and need to leave their entire lives behind and blindly follow him so that he can "protect" them.

It sounds unbelievable... until it doesn't.

The price many of these victims pay is steep: Freegard systematically breaks down their confidence, their sense of security and ultimately their sense of identity. He takes their money, time and freedom. He sexually assaults some of them. One of his victims, Sarah Smith, is with him for 10 years before she realises she is being conned.

By the end of the documentary series, having seen the manipulation and coercive control play out, it feels totally, awfully understandable.

The Puppet Master: Hunting the Ultimate Conman is streaming on Netflix.

McMillion$.

Image: HBO.

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For those who play, McDonald's Monopoly is a huge deal. A yearly highlight, even. The chance at free nugs? Heck yeah.

It has also been the subject of an absolutely wild fraud. 

McMillion$, a six-part docuseries, tells the story of an ex-cop turned security officer who rigs the McDonald's Monopoly game between 1989 and 2001. Jerome P. Jacobson was able to remove the most valuable game pieces, which he then passed to associates who would redeem them and share the proceeds.

The series features legal authorities, including the FBI, and in-depth interviews to explain how Jacobson managed the US$24m fraud with a huge network of co-conspirators.  

McMillions$ is streaming on Foxtel Now and Binge.

White Collar.

Image: USA Network.

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White Collar is a police procedural drama starring Matt Bomer as Neal, a charming con artist, who is finally caught by his nemesis, FBI agent Peter (Tim DeKay).

They negotiate a deal, where Neal will use his knowledge to help Peter capture more white-collar criminals as part of a work-release program.

And thus begins their unconventional, anything-but-smooth-sailing relationship.

There are six seasons and 81 episodes, so there is plenty to keep you occupied.

White Collar is streaming on Disney+.

Lupin.

Image: Netflix.

Lupin follows the story of Assane Diop (Omar Sy), whose father worked as a chaffer and butler for a wealthy family. 

When the family patriarch accused Assane's father of stealing a diamond necklace that was once associated with Marie Antionette, he was thrown in jail. He later signed a confession and then ended his own life. 

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Assane was placed in care and spent his days becoming increasingly obsessed with a book his father gave him and the fictional character of Arsene Lupin, a "gentleman thief" and a master of disguise, first created by Maurice Leblanc in 1905. 

At the start of the series Assane, now an adult, plots to steal the necklace which has since been found and is about to go up for auction at the Louvre, to avenge his father's death. 

Lupin is streaming on Netflix.

Imposters.

Image: Bravo.

Maddie Jonson (Inbar Lavi) is a con artist whose method of operation is to make her targets fall in love with her, then along with her associates, steal all their valuables shortly after marrying them. 

After marrying, and scamming, her latest husband, he is contacted by another victim, and they team up to stop her.

Imposters features superb performances, hilarious writing and plenty of plot twists. It ended after just two seasons - a travesty! - but on the bright side, that makes its 20 episodes perfectly digestible.

Imposters is streaming on Stan.

Feature image: Netflix/Disney+.

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