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Hoaxes & Deceptions

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  1. 7.9 hrs • 8/9/2016 • Unabridged

    A darkly comic inquiry into how to fake your own death, the disappearance industry, and the lengths to which people will go to be reborn. Is it still possible to fake your own death in the twenty-first century? With six figures of student loan debt, Elizabeth Greenwood was tempted to find out. So she sets off on a foray into the world of death fraud, where for $30,000 a consultant can make you disappear—but your suspicious insurance company might hire a private detective to dig up your coffin only to find it filled with rocks. Greenwood tracks down a man who staged a kayaking accident and then returned to live in his own house while all his neighbors thought he was dead. She takes a call from Michael Jackson (yes, he’s alive—or so some would have her believe), talks to people contemplating pseudocide, and gathers intel on black market morgues in the Philippines, where she may or may not succeed in obtaining some fraudulent goodies of her own. Along the way, she learns that love is a much less common motive than money, and that making your death look like a drowning virtually guarantees you’ll be caught. (Disappearing while hiking, however, is a great way to go.) Playing Dead is an utterly fascinating and charmingly bizarre investigation into our all-too-human desire to escape from the lives we lead, and the men and women desperate enough to lose their identities—and their families—to begin again.

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    Playing Dead

    7.9 hrs • 8/9/16 • Unabridged
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  2. 8.0 hrs • 7/26/2016 • Unabridged

    In this stunning true-crime thriller of Facebook, catfishing, and jealousy, a double murder begins with the click of a button. When Bill Payne and Billie Jean Hayworth began their romance, they unknowingly set in motion a diabolical plot that would end with them murdered in their own home, Hayworth holding their mercifully unharmed infant. Chris was a CIA agent who was concerned about Jenelle. Seeing the cyberbullying she had endured, and worried for her safety, Chris got in touch with Jenelle’s protective parents and her devoted boyfriend, warning them that Payne and Hayworth were a danger to Jenelle. He got especially close with Jenelle’s mother, Barbara, who thought of Chris like a son, though she had never met him. Chris claimed that surveillance of Payne and Hayworth revealed that the two of them were planning on harming Jenelle, that it was imminent, and that something needed to be done immediately. Chris promised that he would have their back if they were to act to protect Jenelle. And so they did. Jenelle’s father, Buddy, and her boyfriend, Jamie, broke into the home of Payne and Hayworth and murdered them in their own home. What the police investigation turned up, though, made this crime all the more terrifying. Jenelle had been Chris the entire time, catfishing her family and her boyfriend to act in vengeance on her behalf. Using forensic linguistics and diving through the brambles that Jenelle laid to cover her tracks, police were able to put together a chilling portrait of a sociopath made all the more ruthless by the anonymity of her online life. Bizarre and unforgettable, Dennis Brooks examines the crime and trial from all angles, bringing his expertise as the lead prosecutor in this strange and disturbing case.

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    Too Pretty to Live by Dennis Brooks

    Too Pretty to Live

    8.0 hrs • 7/26/16 • Unabridged
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  3. 10.6 hrs • 11/3/2015 • Unabridged

    Former prosecutor Jeanine Pirro—the “true hero” (New York Post) of the hit HBO documentary series The Jinx—offers the transfixing true story of her tireless fifteen-year investigation into accused murderer Robert Durst for the disappearance of his wife Kathleen Durst. Former district attorney Jeanine Pirro was cast as the bad guy fifteen years ago when she reopened the cold case of Kathleen Durst, a young and beautiful fourth-year medical student who disappeared without a trace in 1982, never to be seen again. Kathie Durst’s husband was millionaire real estate heir Robert Durst, son of one of the wealthiest families in New York City—but though her friends and family suspected him of the worst, he escaped police investigation. Pirro, now the host of Justice with Judge Jeanine on Fox News, always believed in Durst’s guilt, and in this shocking book, she makes her case beyond a shadow of a doubt, revealing stunning, previously unknown secrets about the crimes he is accused of committing. For years, Pirro has crusaded for justice for the victims, and her impassioned perspective in the captivating HBO documentary series The Jinx made her one of its breakout stars. Featuring Pirro’s unique insider’s perspective on the crimes, as well as her exclusive interviews with many of the major players featured in the The Jinx, this comprehensive book is the definitive story of Robert Durst and his gruesome crimes—the one you didn’t see on television.

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    He Killed Them All

    10.6 hrs • 11/3/15 • Unabridged
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  4. 9.4 hrs • 6/9/2015 • Unabridged

    The page-turning, inside account of how three kids from Florida became big-time weapons traders—and how the United States government turned on them In January of 2007, three young stoners from Miami Beach won a $300 million Department of Defense contract to supply ammunition to the Afghanistan military. Incredibly, instead of fulfilling the order with high-quality arms, Efraim Diveroli, David Packouz, and Alex Podrizki—the dudes—bought cheap Communist-style surplus ammunition from Balkan gunrunners. The dudes then secretly repackaged millions of rounds of shoddy Chinese ammunition and shipped it to Kabul—until they were caught by Pentagon investigators and the scandal turned up on the front page of the New York Times. That’s the “official” story. The truth is far more explosive. For the first time, journalist Guy Lawson tells the thrilling true tale. It’s a trip that goes from a dive apartment in Miami Beach to mountain caves in Albania, the corridors of power in Washington, and the front lines of Iraq and Afghanistan. Lawson’s account includes a shady Swiss gunrunner, Russian arms dealers, corrupt Albanian gangsters, and a Pentagon investigation that impeded America’s war efforts in Afghanistan. Lawson exposes the mysterious and murky world of global arms dealing, showing how the American military came to use private contractors like Diveroli, Packouz, and Podrizki as middlemen to secure weapons from illegal arms dealers—the same men who sell guns to dictators, warlords, and drug traffickers. This is a story you were never meant to read.

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    Arms and the Dudes

    9.4 hrs • 6/9/15 • Unabridged
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    9.5 hrs • 5/19/2015 • Unabridged

    A rollicking story of greed, financial corruption, dirty politics, over-the-top and under-the-radar deceit, illicit sex, and a brilliant and wildly charming con man who kept a Ponzi scheme alive perhaps longer than anyone else in history It was a time of unregulated madness. And nowhere was it madder than in Chicago at the dawn of the Roaring Twenties. Speakeasies thrived, gang war shootings announced Al Capone’s rise to underworld domination, Chicago’s corrupt political leaders fraternized with gangsters, and the frenzy of stock market gambling was rampant. Enter a slick, smooth-talking, charismatic lawyer named Leo Koretz, who enticed hundreds of people (who should have known better) to invest as much as $30 million—upwards of $400 million today—in phantom timberland and nonexistent oil wells in Panama. When Leo’s scheme finally collapsed in 1923, he vanished, and the Chicago state’s attorney, a man whose lust for power equaled Leo’s own lust for money, began an international manhunt that lasted almost a year. When finally apprehended, Leo was living a life of luxury in Nova Scotia under the assumed identity of a book dealer and literary critic. His mysterious death in a Chicago prison topped anything in his almost-too-bizarre-to-believe life. Empire of Deception is not only an incredibly rich and detailed account of a man and an era; it’s a fascinating look at the methods of swindlers throughout history. Leo Koretz was the Bernie Madoff of his day, and Dean Jobb shows us that the dream of easy wealth is a timeless commodity.

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    Empire of Deception

    9.5 hrs • 5/19/15 • Unabridged
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  6. 3.5 hrs • 3/17/2015 • Unabridged

    Teary, big-eyed orphans and a multitude of trashy knockoffs epitomized American kitsch art as they clogged thrift stores for decades. When Adam Parfrey tracked down Walter Keane—the credited artist of the weepy waifs—for a San Diego Reader cover story in 1992, he discovered some shocking facts. Decades of lawsuits and countersuits revealed the reality that Keane was more of a con man than an artist, and that he forced his wife Margaret to sign his name to her own paintings. As a result, those weepy waifs may not have been as capricious an invention as they seemed. Parfrey’s story was reprinted in Juxtapoz magazine and inspired a Margaret Keane exhibition at the Laguna Art Museum. Director Tim Burton made a movie about the Keanes called Big Eyes, which came out in 2014. Citizen Keane is a book-length expansion of Parfrey’s original article, providing fascinating biographical and sociological details.

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    Citizen Keane by Adam Parfrey, Cletus Nelson

    Citizen Keane

    3.5 hrs • 3/17/15 • Unabridged
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  7. 16.7 hrs • 1/1/2015 • Unabridged

    Here is the myth-shattering exposé that reveals the truth behind the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.—shocking and controversial revelations from James Earl Ray’s attorney. On April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stepped out onto the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, and into his killer’s line of fire. One shot ended Dr. King’s life and forever changed the course of American history—setting into motion a massive cover-up that has withstood a quarter-century of scrutiny. After eighteen years of intensive investigation, William F. Pepper has torn away the veil of subterfuge that has hidden the truth surrounding King’s death—proving the innocence of convicted assassin James Earl Ray and revealing the evil conspiracy behind the murder of our nation’s greatest civil rights leader.

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    Orders to Kill by William F. Pepper

    Orders to Kill

    16.7 hrs • 1/1/15 • Unabridged
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  8. 0 reviews 0 5 5 5 out of 5 stars 5/5
    12.4 hrs • 10/15/2013 • Unabridged

    The first in-depth look at Lance Armstrong’s doping scandal, the phenomenal business success built on the back of fraud, and the greatest conspiracy in the history of sports Lance Armstrong won a record-smashing seven Tours de France after staring down cancer and in the process became an international symbol of resilience and courage. In a sport constantly dogged by blood doping scandals, he seemed above the fray. Then, in January 2013, the legend imploded. He admitted doping during the Tours and, in an interview with Oprah, described his “mythic, perfect story” as “one big lie.” But his admission raised more questions than it answered—because he didn’t say who had helped him dope or how he skillfully avoided getting caught. The Wall Street Journal reporters Reed Albergotti and Vanessa O’Connell broke the news at every turn. In Wheelmen they reveal the broader story of how Armstrong and his supporters used money, power, and cutting-edge science to conquer the world’s most difficult race. Wheelmen introduces US Postal Service Team owner Thom Weisel, who in a brazen power play ousted USA Cycling’s top leadership and gained control of the sport in the United States, ensuring Armstrong’s dominance. Meanwhile, sponsors fought over contracts with Armstrong as the entire sport of cycling began to benefit from the “Lance effect.” What had been a quirky, working-class hobby became the pastime of the Mmsters of the universe set. Wheelmen offers a riveting look at what happens when enigmatic genius breaks loose from the strictures of morality. It reveals the competitiveness and ingenuity that sparked blood doping as an accepted practice, and shows how the Americans methodically constructed an international operation of spies and revolutionary technology to reach the top. At last exposing the truth about Armstrong and American cycling, Wheelmen paints a living portrait of what is, without question, the greatest conspiracy in the history of sports.

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    Wheelmen

    12.4 hrs • 10/15/13 • Unabridged
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  9. 9.4 hrs • 5/21/2013 • Unabridged

    The true story that inspired the Sofia Coppola film. Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Orlando Bloom, Rachel Bilson: robbed. More than $3 million in stolen clothing, jewelry, shoes, and handbags reported missing. Who is behind one of the most brazen string of crimes in recent Hollywood history? Meet the Bling Ring: a band of club-hopping teenagers from the Valley with everything to lose. Over the course of a year, the members of the now infamous Bling Ring allegedly burglarized some of the biggest names in young Hollywood. Driven by celebrity worship, vanity, and the desire to look and dress like the rich and famous, these seven teenagers made headlines for using Google maps, Facebook, and TMZ to track the comings and goings of their targets. Many of the houses were unlocked. Alarms disabled. A “perfect” crime—celebrities already had so much, why shouldn’t the Bling Ring take their share? As the unprecedented case unfolded in the news, the world asked: how did our obsession with celebrities get so out of hand? Why would a group of teens who already had so much, take such a risk? Acclaimed Vanity Fair writer Nancy Jo Sales found the answer: they did it because each stolen t-shirt or watch brought them closer to living the Hollywood dream—and because it was terrifyingly easy. For the Bling Ring, the motivation was something deeper than money—they were compelled by a compulsion to be famous. Gaining unprecedented access to the group of teens, Sales traces the crimes minute by minute and details the key players’ stories in a shocking look at the seedy, and troubling, world of the real young Hollywood.

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    The Bling Ring

    9.4 hrs • 5/21/13 • Unabridged
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  10. 11.2 hrs • 3/6/2012 • Unabridged

    In 1919, Texas rancher J. Frank Norfleet lost everything he had in a stock market swindle. He did what many other marks did—he went home, borrowed more money from his family, and returned for another round of swindling.   Only after he lost that second fortune did he reclaim control of his story. Instead of crawling back home in shame, he vowed to hunt down the five men who had conned him. Armed with a revolver and a suitcase full of disguises, Norfleet crisscrossed the country from Texas to Florida to California to Colorado, posing as a country hick and allowing himself to be ensnared by confidence men again and again to gather evidence on his enemies. Within four years, Frank Norfleet had become nationally famous for his quest to out-con the con men. Through Norfleet’s ingenious reverse-swindle, Amy Reading reveals the mechanics behind the scenes of the big con—a piece of performance art targeted to the most vulnerable points of human nature. Reading shows how the big con has been woven throughout U.S. history. From the colonies to the railroads and the Chicago Board of Trade, America has always been a speculative enterprise, and bunco men and bankers alike have always understood that the common man was perfectly willing to engage in minor fraud to get a piece of the expanding stock market—a trait that made him infinitely gullible.  Amy Reading’s fascinating account of con artistry in America and Frank Norfleet’s wild caper invites you into the crooked history of a nation on the hustle, constantly feeding the hunger and the hope of the mark inside.

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    The Mark Inside

    11.2 hrs • 3/6/12 • Unabridged
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  11. 0 reviews 0 5 5 5 out of 5 stars 5/5
    8.8 hrs • 4/1/2001 • Unabridged

    Catch Me If You Can is the true story of Frank W. Abagnale—alias Frank Williams, Robert Conrad, Frank Adams, and Robert Monjo—one of the most daring con men, forgers, imposters, and escape artists in history. In his brief but notorious criminal career, Abagnale donned a pilot’s uniform and copiloted a Pan Am jet, masqueraded as the supervising resident of a hospital, practiced law without a license, passed himself off as a sociology professor, and cashed over $2.5 million in forged checks—all before he was twenty-one. Abagnale lived a sumptuous life on the lam—until the law caught up with him. Now recognized as the nation’s leading authority on financial foul play, Abagnale is a charming rogue whose hilarious, stranger-than-fiction international escapades and ingenious escapes make Catch Me If You Can an irresistible tale of deceit.

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    Catch Me If You Can by Frank W. Abagnale

    Catch Me If You Can

    By Frank W. Abagnale, with Stan Redding
    8.8 hrs • 4/1/01 • Unabridged
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