The Skeptics Society & Skeptic magazine


Kelly Pope — Fool Me Once: Scams, Stories, and Secrets from the Trillion-Dollar Fraud Industry

Title (book cover)

Shermer and Pope discuss:

  • SBF and FTX
  • Bernie Madoff
  • The Tinder Swindler
  • How gullible are people, really?
  • intentional perps, accidental perps, and righteous perps
  • innocent bystanders and organizational targets
  • accidental whistleblowers, noble whistleblowers, and vigilante whistleblowers
  • identity theft
  • elder theft
  • IRS scams
  • doping in sports
  • Frank Abagnale Jr.
  • Edward Snowden and Julian Assange as righteous perps
  • Daniel Ellsberg as a noble whistleblower
  • Phil Zimbardo and The Lucifer Effect (bad apple barrels, not bad apples) and perps
  • how to tell if you have been a victim of financial fraud.

Kelly Richmond Pope is the Barry Jay Epstein Endowed Professor of Forensic Accounting at DePaul University in Chicago. Pope’s research on executive misconduct culminated in directing and producing the award-winning documentary, All the Queen’s Horses, which explores the largest municipal fraud in U.S. history. In 2020 the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and CPA Practice Advisor named Pope as one of the twenty-five Most Powerful Women in Accounting. Her new book is Fool Me Once: Scams, Stories and Secrets from the Trillion-Dollar Fraud Industry. Connect with her at

About the Book

Have you ever wondered why Bernie Madoff thought he could brazenly steal his clients’ money? Or why investors were so easily duped by Elizabeth Holmes? Or how courageous people like Jeffrey Wigand are willing to become whistleblowers and put their careers on the line?

Fraud is everywhere, from Nigerian “princes,” embezzlers, and Ponzi schemers to corporate giants like Enron and Volkswagen. And fraud is costly. Each year, consumers, small businesses, governments, and corporations lose trillions of dollars to financial crime. We’re so accustomed to hearing about fraud that our abilities to identify it and speak about it are limited.

In Fool Me Once, renowned forensic accounting expert Kelly Richmond Pope shows fraud in action, uncovering what makes perps tick, victims so gullible, and whistleblowers so morally righteous, while also encouraging us to look at our own behaviors and motivations in the hope of protecting ourselves and our companies. Pope will inspire you to question your own preconceived notions about fraud. She will challenge your beliefs about yourself and other people, and help you understand a phenomenon that most of us fail to grasp — until it’s too late.

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This episode is sponsored by Brilliant:

This episode was released on May 13, 2023.

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