We're all trying to make our fortunes. We're all motivated, to some degree, by self-interest and greed. But a small percentage of people are outliers. They look like us - they might even look better than us, aglow with charisma, possessed of a sparkle in the eye - but they think differently. Their brains are whirring away at the complex social arithmetic that will convince us to trust them. They want to make their fortune and ours.
In this new Panoply series, New Yorker contributor Maria Konnikova exposes hucksters, con artists and frauds, making use of insights acquired through the writing of her book, The Confidence Game. Over 10 episodes, she brings us the stories of 10 fraudsters. They're all of different stripes, but cut from the same cloth: a boyfriend who has constructed an elaborate false life; a New Jersey living-room cult leader; a maker of expertly painted fakes. These gripping accounts are built from interviews with both victims and perpetrators and narrated by Konnikova. Though we are often left in awe of her subjects' skill and audacity, our host is careful not to glamorise them: these are criminals who hurt people, and she is telling us their stories as much to warn us as to titillate. Great stuff, weekly, with five episodes still to come.
Gateway episodes: Religion of the Black Dog (25 Apr) / Genuine Fake (11 Apr)
Released: Weekly, 10 parts