What does it feel like to pick up the phone and scam someone out of $50 million? Persona: The French Deception is an eight-part investigative look into the story of Gilbert Chikli, one of the greatest con artists of all time. Created with Pineapple Street Studios and Wondery, the show investigates how Chikli successfully duped some of the world’s most powerful people into handing over their fortunes. Persona explores how Chikli evaded the law for years and became a Robin Hood-like hero. More than just a tale of criminal genius, this is a show about the moment we’re living in right now—the golden age of scammers—and the power of seduction. But what happens when the fantasy we’ve been lured into finally crumbles away?
The show charted in the top 3 overall podcasts on Apple, and was reviewed and recommended by Vulture (New York Magazine), The Guardian, Financial Times, and Airmail, among others.
The Longform Podcast
The Longform Podcast is a weekly in-depth conversation with nonfiction writers, editors, radio storytellers, and documentarians about their work, careers, and lives. It’s hosted by Aaron Lammer, Max Linsky, and myself. Since 2012, we’ve interviewed hundreds of guests, the podcast has been downloaded tens of millions of times, and we’ve been named to best-of-the-year lists from the likes of Time, The Guardian, The Atlantic (and again!), New York magazine, and others.
“It’s like my fantasy of what the internet would be, where you overhear conversations you can’t believe you’re overhearing.” —James L. Brooks
You can find the full archive of interviews at longform.org/podcast. Somewhat awkwardly, I’ve also been a guest on the podcast, in 2013, 2016, and 2019.
Here’s a selection of my favorite ones that I’ve conducted:
Jack Hitt, episode 200
Ta-Nehisi Coates, episodes 7, 97, 168, 225, 360 (with Chris Jackson)
Margo Jefferson, episode 157
Ben Taub, episode 210