Within minutes of the start of comedian and actress Laci Mosley’s Scam Goddess podcast, listeners are greeted with an earworm. The podcast’s theme song features Mosley soulfully harmonizing the words “scam, con, robbery, and fraud” repeatedly. It’s the perfect introduction to the subversive show in which the host regales her audience with tales of deception and deceit every week.
Mosley describes Scam Goddess as “true-crime adjacent, with all the fun of true crime without the murder.” Drawing from her background in improv comedy, the Dallas native often guides a guest (and the dedicated listeners she addresses as her “con-gregation”) through hilarious, scam-related segments poking fun both at scammers and law enforcement’s failed attempts to catch them.
Scam Goddess stands out amid the myriad true-crime podcasts that tend to follow investigators as they try to crack a cold case or obsess over serial killers. Instead of homing in on gory crimes, Mosley’s episodes focus on subjects like Mair Smyth (a fake Irish heiress who conned friends and strangers on the internet into donating tens of thousands of dollars to her GoFundMe campaign), Malachi Love-Robinson (a Florida teenager who made national headlines after he posed as a doctor), and the infamous Fyre Festival organizers. More often than not, she addresses the law enforcement officials who are hell-bent on catching them, or exposing their crimes, as “haters.”
In October, Mosley announced that her podcast had joined Conan O’Brien’s Team Coco production company. Mosley is currently filming the upcoming sci-fi TV series Scroll Wheel of Time and appears on ABC’s The Con. The host spoke with Texas Monthly about the origins of Scam Goddess, her affinity for scammers, and her Texas roots.
On growing up in Texas:
I was born in Terrell, Texas, which I love to say, because Jamie Foxx was born there. He went to the same high school as my mom. When I was a kid, I would stay with my grandma and grandpa in the summer. My birthday is July Fourth, and we’d always have a family reunion with this huge party. My cousins and I would throw firecrackers at each other, which was so country. It was just a really good time. Just a bunch of wide-open space and having my family so close, that’s what I really loved about being in Texas.
On the origins of Scam Goddess:
I used to do guest spots on podcasts all the time, one of them was for this show The Daily Zeitgeist. When I would come on, they would always ask about my search history, and every time it was always something fraud- or scam-related. They started calling me the “scam goddess.” I recorded a pilot at Earwolf with some friends in , and it just kind of took off from there. I can’t believe where we are now.
On the Hilaria Baldwin “scam” that broke the internet:
First of all, let me say that I’m getting Hilaria’s episode together as we speak. I love scammers like her because she didn’t really hurt anybody. She named all of her kids Spanish names, she told everybody she was from España, and she just put on an accent here and there. I mean, who hasn’t put on a British accent to get a better deal on a car rental? Maybe that’s just me. I also just loved that she blamed the media for “misrepresenting” her, but the math ain’t mathin’ [laughs]. There was so much physical evidence of her saying she was from Spain. She just got on Instagram and boldface lied. When this interview comes out and says I’m from Texas, the first thing I’ll say is, “You can’t trust the journalists, loves. I’m from London. Houston? Texas? Never heard of it, never been there.”
On her relationship with scams:
I’m on all sides. Sometimes I hate scams, because I don’t like to see people get hurt. Sometimes I love them, because I think big corporations can get too much power, so I like to see the little man take it back from the big man. I’m very sympathetic to fun scammers, scams like Hilaria’s that make absolutely no sense.
On the scam she’s proudest of:
Some friends and I were at the 40/40 Club in New York, and it was NBA All-Star weekend. Beyoncé and Jay-Z were there, all of these very famous people were there. We wanted to go to the VIP area, but it was super locked down. We realized that we were all in black dresses and there were some cups sitting on a table, so I said, “Y’all, let’s just pick up these cups and act like we work here.” It was a frenzy, there were so many people there, so we just picked up the cups and walked right in. We saw Beyoncé. It was wonderful.
On rooting for the scammer:
I love when there’s a good scammer protagonist; they’re scamming someone who’s worthy of being scammed. I do sometimes call law enforcement, the FBI, parking enforcement, “hater positions.” It’s not that I always dislike those people, I just sometimes root against them. When we did an episode on the McMillions scammer, about the man who was scamming the McDonald’s Monopoly game for years, it was so fun to see all of these people he’d gotten involved, from a butcher to a family of Mormons. It was so interesting. But when I watched McMillions on HBO, it was all about the cops. It just wasn’t as fun.
On keeping the show fresh:
People don’t realize that I pick the scams, but I have a research assistant, Sharilyn Vera, and she’ll do the research and put the episode together. I want it to feel like you’re hanging out talking about this with your friend, so there’s tons of little details that I don’t know ahead of time. That’s actually how I found out that Lou Pearlman was dead. I come from an improv theater background, so I like to just read the outline and come up with jokes on the spot.
On Texas-sized scams:
Everything’s bigger in Texas, so the scams are going to be bigger too. We have so many transplants and native Texans, and all these different cultures. It just creates this environment where anything can happen … and it does. And since the state is so big, it takes a while for people to catch on. So you can get these scams that get bigger and bigger, until it’s so out of control that you’re burying gold bars and watches by the lake like Sandy Jenkins [laughs]. He really thought he was a pirate burying treasure.