Pretend - a true crime podcast about con artists

Creative Babble

PRETEND exposes the masterminds behind some of the most notorious scams and cons. From cult leaders to con artists and undercover FBI agents, this podcast pulls back the curtain on those who've pretended to be someone they're not. read less

Our Editor's Take

Pretend- a true crime podcast about con artists investigates people living a lie. The show's documentary style offers straightforward reporting, careful analysis, and captivating storytelling. Host Javier Leiva follows each case, risking his safety along the way.

Javier, who also produces the podcast, has worked in TV and marketing. As an investigative podcaster, Javier reported from inside a cult and exposed a woman for selling bleach to cure autism. These are only two of the successes that he shares here.

The complex tales of the most elusive con artists often need more than an hour to tell. Pretend offers a series on the most notorious of these figures. "The Real Catch Me If You Can Series" uncovers the life story of Frank Abagnale, a famous American con man. Did he commit all the crimes he recounted in his autobiography? According to Javier, 90% of his story is false. The host uses facts to disprove each of Frank's falsehoods. Can he "catch a conman in a lie"?

Another series, "The Stalker," discusses a cyber stalker who terrorizes a couple. The police can't find the criminal. They suspect the wife may have a mental disorder and could be the stalker herself. Is this a case of Munchausen by proxy? The thirteen podcast episodes detailing the case reveal chilling reports of child abuse and human failing.

The "Word of Faith Fellowship" series on the podcast tells another kind of story. It examines con woman and "cult" leader Jane Whaley and her husband, Sam. In 1979, they started their new church in North Carolina. Congregants adored them and felt loved. As the years passed, things started to change. Jane and Sam began to control their lives. They'd take followers' children away to live with ministers. There was physical and emotional abuse. Did Sam and Jane get involved in human trafficking? How did members escape their influence? Why does the church continue today?

Pretend- a true crime podcast about con artists may surprise and terrify listeners. The events and lives it reveals are enthralling. Javier provides answers when he can. Listeners can hear new episodes each week.

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Season 16

Season 15

1502: The Stalker - Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (part 17)
Nov 14 2023
1502: The Stalker - Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (part 17)
"PRETEND: The Stalker" is back with a bombshell that you've all been waiting for: new court audio from The Fernandez Settlement Conference. It's been a while since we've delved into the world of Tanya and Rick Fernandez, the subjects of one of The Stalker series. In the nine months since their indictment on January 25, 2023, where they faced a barrage of six felony charges, the Fernandez case has been marked by a relentless procession of delays. The defense attorneys? They've been hitting the pause button time and time again, clamoring for more time to prepare their strategy. Meanwhile, the State of Arizona? They've remained steadfast, offering no plea deals whatsoever. The result? It was an agonizing year filled with 'hurry up and wait.' But here's where it gets riveting – this past summer, the Fernandezes made an interesting move. They willingly relinquished their right to a speedy trial. Why? Their legal team argues that this case is anything but ordinary. It's complex, requiring more time for expert witness interviews, akin to a high-stakes murder trial. It's a bold move; let's see if it works. We're inching closer to the December 6th, 2023 trial date. Will the State of Arizona finally extend a plea deal? And more critically, will the Fernandezes accept it, or are they unshakable in their belief that their narrative will captivate a jury? In this episode of "PRETEND: The Stalker," you'll hear directly from the judge and prosecutor and finally get answers to our most burning questions. Will the Fernandezes cut a deal, or are they destined to take their chances in the unforgiving courtroom? Let me know what you think on social! Follow the conversation on Instagram @pretendpod: or on the PRETEND Facebook Group: Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
1510: How to Disappear Revisited
Jan 16 2024
1510: How to Disappear Revisited
Dartanyon A. Williams (DAW) stole his parents’ identities at the age of 15. Unfortunately, they weren’t his last victims. Dartanyon, who also goes by DAW, claims he has stolen thousands of identities. So many that he’s lost count. It’s rare to hear firsthand from an identity thief. In this episode, Dartanyon How to steal someone’s identity How did he do it? He had many tactics. But the most proven technique was paying off restaurant employees, car dealerships, and tax preparation companies. These employees served as double agents. When no one was looking, they would collect customers' social security numbers and smuggle them to DAW. Today, DAW’s life of crime is behind him. He even ran for Congress for the U.S. House of Representatives. How to protect your identity These days, it’s just as easy to steal your identity from a breached database. Everything an identity thief needs to steal your identity is already online. What can you do to protect yourself?  Click here to see if your email has been involved in a breached database: Freezing your credit and setting up a fraud alert I’ve taken the extreme step of freezing my credit. It’s actually not really that extreme. In fact, it’s quite easy. In this episode, you’ll hear how simple it is to lock down your credit so that no one can assume your identity.  Michael Bazzell, a privacy consultant, walks me through the credit freeze process. For more details, download his step-by-step guide.  Essentially, get a free credit report from one of the credit bureaus, then ask them to freeze your credit. This way, no one can open a line of credit under your name. If you ever need to unfreeze your credit, it’s easy. Just unfreeze your credit by going online or with a quick phone call.  Equifax Online: Experian Online: TransUnion Online:   If you just stumbled on this page, start with part 1. Michael Bazzell To learn more about Michael Bazzell, check out his website Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Season 14