In Impostors: The Commander, journalist and host Abby Ellin tells the story of a con man who entangled her, friends, family, coworkers, and other lovers in an identity fraud scheme that stretched all the way to the Pentagon.
Ellin fell hard for an empathetic Lieutenant Commander in the Navy Medical Corps working to build hospitals in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said he had saved the grandson of one of the world’s wealthiest men from an attempted kidnapping, and said he had done secret missions with the CIA. And he wasn’t on some narcissistic quest to become rich and famous; instead he only wanted to keep America safe from ‘the bad guys.’ On top of it all, he was an excellent father and a hopeless romantic. Who wouldn’t fall in love with him?
The problem is, almost everything The Commander said was a lie. He told these lies to woman after woman, for years. And many of these women fell for it, and fell for him. Until, that is, he messed with the wrong woman – Abby Ellin. With what she learned from the other women, she was able to piece together the full story and tell the world.
In the series, based on her book Duped: Double Lives, False Identities, and the Con Man I Almost Married, Ellin shares The Commander’s journey from duper to felon through the eyes of the people he lied to. She talks to experts of all stripes: lie detectors who spot dupers, scientists who study trust and deception, and psychologists who work with those who’ve experienced a traumatic deception. And she seeks answers: why do we fall for cons and liars? How did she herself become so entrapped? And when you’ve been through an experience like this, can you ever trust again?
Impostors is produced by Topic Studios with Transmitter Media, and is a Spotify Original from Parcast. The executive producers are Abby Ellin; Maria Zuckerman, Christy Gressman, Lisa Leingang, Leital Molad for Topic Studios; Gretta Cohn for Transmitter Media; and Max Cutler for Parcast.