Perhaps it only takes a virus to bring interesting new shows to TV. A couple of weeks ago, ABC debuted a behind-the-scenes look at 911 operators in Emergency Call and tonight the network debuts a docuseries about the people behind some of the most amazing cons.
Narrated by Whoopi Goldberg, The Con 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 series 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.
ABC says that the series “will lift the curtain on the people behind some of the most outrageous cons ever” as Goldberg introduces viewers to Benita Alexander, an award-winning documentary television producer and single mother, and Paolo Macchiarini, an internationally renowned surgeon.
Alexander met Macchiarini while producing a documentary on his groundbreaking surgical techniques using stem cells in synthetic trachea transplants. Despite crossing professional lines, Alexander found herself wooed by Macchiarini’s charm, intellect and good looks. Soon, the pair fell in love.
After traveling the world together, the couple got engaged and, according to Alexander, Macchiarini told her that he would like to take over wedding plans. The grand, fairy-tale affair was to include an impressive guest list, including Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and Elton John and the two would be married by the pope!
However, weeks before their Italian wedding, Alexander realized that things were not as perfect as they seemed and she used her investigative producer skills to uncover the truth behind Macchiarini and the planned wedding.
Meanwhile at the Karolinska Institute where Macchiarini performed some of his transplant surgeries, the school began digging into allegations from Macchiarini’s colleagues that he fabricated parts of his medical research. Macchiarini eventually lost his position at the institute. These 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.
Future episodes of The Con will 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.
The Con airs on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on ABC.
Main Image: Benita Alexander (ABC)
I write about arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.