Laci Mosley: “If you’re a fan of messy, silly fun gossip that isn’t dark or negative, this is an excellent scam to start with. Why would a woman fake a whole identity? And with such dedication! Can you imagine having to wake up every day, like, hola? This is a victimless crime—who’s really being scammed here? Alec Baldwin?”
Comedian Laci Mosley might just change the way you think about scams. Her two-year-old podcast, Scam Goddess, brilliantly, lovingly critiques great cons throughout history in a way that elevates the scam to an art form. Which jibes well with her preferred moniker for the perpetrators she covers: con artistes.
“Here’s what sets scams apart from most crimes,” Mosley explains by phone from Los Angeles. “People involved with scams — on all sides — often look back on these stories fondly. They laugh, they see the weird, the funny, the quirky. There’s a lot of fun to be had in this realm.”
As for Mosley’s connection to the medium? “I’ve been scammed, I’ve scammed institutions, I’ve been on all sides, and I’m fascinated by every angle.”
So who better to walk us through some of the greatest cons of our time? We tapped Mosley to share a collection of great scam reads and listens, along with notes on why each of them manages to hold a special spot in the heart of the Scam Goddess herself.
Image by Ok Sotnykova/Getty Images
LM: “Everything’s bigger in Texas, including the scams. This guy, Sandy Jenkins, you get to see his journey from an unremarkable small town man to a man who owns gold bricks and buried his jewelry to hide it from the Feds. I love all the whispers from the neighbors, all the judgment. It’s fantastic.”
LM: “I love Rudy, the wine scammer, because he did what we all did in 7th grade, but for wine. Remember when you had to make an old map, so you’d burn the edges or put tea on it to make it look older? He did that, but with wine. He was cooking the wine on his stove, like it was stir fry.”
Bonus: Watch the documentary, Sour Grapes, on Amazon Prime.
LM: “Anna Delvey was one of the first glamorous, cool modern scammers. These days, you can usually only pull off a few scams because of the internet. For her to get away with this as long as she did in the modern tech era—that’s really impressive.”
LM: “Dr. Love is a scam prodigy. A pilfering prodigy, if you will. He opened up a medical practice at the tender age of 17. And he looked 17! You know how some people live out loud? He scammed out loud. He threw a grand opening party for his fake medical practice! He's talented. I don’t know how he got this far, but I do think he deserved to go to medical school and not to jail.”
LM: “Here’s what I love about Caroline Calloway. She is an influencer who is fully tapped into her following, and by that I mean she has learned how to exploit the people who love her for as much money as she can get. She has a book coming out called Scammer, which recently came under fire from her fans because they’re wondering where the book is. They preordered it many moons ago. So odd that a book called Scammer would not come directly to your doorstep when you order it!”
LM: “Aunt Becky. Wow. From Full House to the big house. What a transition, what a journey. What’s fun about this is Aunt Becky seems to be the story, but the real story is about the three men who orchestrated this scam and probably could have continued to do this if one didn’t decide to be greedy and cut out the middleman.”
Bonus: Watch ABC’s The Con episode on The Varsity Blues Con.
LM: “This is a beautiful scam, because he fooled a bank into investing in an airport that never existed. At all. The audacity to sell an airport! Something you very much can see! From the sky! And never building it! Never breaking ground! This started in 1997, obviously it’s a scam you could only really do before the internet age.”
LM: “We all owe Milli Vanilli an apology. Milli Vanilli is the work of a schemer named Charles Shaw. He found the guys in some German projects and made them celebrities. Milli Vanilli doesn’t deserve to be the joke. They were just trying to get out of the projects.”
LM: “The Hollywood con queen was impersonating powerful industry people, and luring others to go to Indonesia to participate in the scam, which involved a moped. I love a scam on two wheels! Delicious. The Chameleon podcast is the best way to learn the whole story because it is a real time investigation of this con artist, and leads to the podcast actually finding the criminal—they aid the police with a very key piece of information.”
Bonus: Read The Hollywood Reporter’s investigation of the con queen.
LM: “Ah, the celebrity surgeon who turns out to not be so good at surgery. Or love. Or money. Then you’ve got Benita, whose whole job is investigative journalism. And somehow she has the wool pulled over her eyes by this guy who people say looks like George Clooney, but really only if you squint and do four turns really quickly. He gets this woman to the point where she believes the Pope is going to marry them. At the Pope’s house! This is also fun because Benita has a redemption moment. I won’t spoil it, but it’s a real feel-good story.”
Laci Mosley is an American actress, comedian, and podcaster from Dallas, Texas. She performs improv comedy at UCB Los Angeles and co-starred in the Pop comedy series Florida Girls. Mosley is best known for her podcast Scam Goddess, which focuses on historical and contemporary scams and cons with a comedic twist. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.