Whoopi Goldberg unmasks grifters in ABC's true-crime series The Con: Watch the trailer
In 2013, TV producer Benita Alexander fell in love with a renowned surgeon who swept her off her feet. But little did she know at the time that Dr. Paolo Macchiarini was not the man he claimed to be, and their romance was all a scam.
ABC's new true-crime series The Con, premiering Oct. 14, unravels Macchiarini's web of deceit and those of others like him with help from Whoopi Goldberg, who serves as the show's narrator. Viewers will hear from key people involved in these stories, including victims, eyewitnesses, law enforcement, and sometimes even the con artists themselves — and EW has an exclusive look at the trailer above.
As someone wise once said, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. But Alexander found, these con artists are working at expert levels, leaving even the strongest and most skeptical targets vulnerable.
The show's premiere episode chronicles the whirlwind romance between Alexander and the "super surgeon," as he was known. They met when Alexander was a producer at NBC News; Macchiarini was the subject of a story she was working on with Meredith Viera, titled "A Leap of Faith," which spotlighted his work as a "world-renowned surgeon" making strides in the area of organ transplantation with the help from the patient's own stem cells.
But after he proposed, the lies became bigger and bigger. Alexander was told that Macchiarini's devoted patient Pope Francis would be officiating their elaborate wedding, which would also be attended by other famous clients of his, including Bill and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. He was eventually caught by Alexander, and the law caught up with him for his medical negligence as well.
In 2019, Macchiarini was sentenced to 16 months in jail by an Italian court for forging documents and abuse of office. He was also indicted in Sweden last month on charges of aggravated assault stemming from stem-cell windpipe transplants the carried out in 2011. Prosecutor Mikael Bjork told the Associated Press the operations had caused "serious physical injuries and great suffering," and had been "carried out with absolutely no legal basis." (Macchiarini has disputed the accusations.)
ABC teases other cons to be explored involve identity fraud, a misleading romance, the high-profile college admissions scandal, and Fyre Festival. Confirmed episodes 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.
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