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Smoke Screen: Fake Priest

For 30 years, a man claimed to be a priest. He performed baptisms and took confession. Every time he ran into trouble, Father Ryan would move on to another small Midwestern town and start his scheme all over again. Followers who once worshiped him, now accuse him of exploitation, fraud and abuse. Multiple prosecutors have charged him, but he’s never been imprisoned for his crimes. Investigative reporter Alex Schuman, who hails from a small Iowa town himself, set out to find out how Father Ryan got away with it for so long and why on earth he did it. Along the way, he discovers Father Ryan has connections to a murdered priest, a false prophet, and an entire subculture where he and other frauds can thrive. In season one of Smoke Screen, join Alex Schuman as he unravels this con and gets answers from this white-collar criminal himself. Listen to Smoke Screen: Season 1 Fake Priest, an all-new podcast from Neon Hum Media.

Introducing Chameleon: Hollywood Con Queen

Smoke Screen: Fake Priest

  • 440 views
  • over 1 year ago
  • 08:52

For the past 6 years, someone — or some group — has been terrorizing a certain class of Hollywood workers. Strivers — day players and physical trainers and make-up artists and security guards — receive a phone call or email offering the job of a lifetime. A key role on a major film, or TV show. This offer comes from a powerful woman — one of the biggest producers or studio executives in the industry. All these strivers have to do is get on a plane, for Jakarta, immediately. But when they land, there is no producer. There is no movie. It’s all a fraud. This is the incredible true story of one the longest and strangest cons in history. Tag along as two long-time journalists untangle the story of the Hollywood Con Queen scam, and embark upon an obsessive quest to figure out who’s behind it.

Episode 9: How To Get Away With Fraud

Smoke Screen: Fake Priest

  • 280 views
  • over 1 year ago
  • 37:37

Until now, Father Ryan has mostly escaped punishment for stealing money from followers under false pretenses. What would it take for him to face a jury of his peers?

Episode 7: Two Dead Priests

Smoke Screen: Fake Priest

  • 240 views
  • almost 2 years ago
  • 30:54

In his autobiography, Father Ryan connects himself to two priests who died suspiciously. One he accuses of molesting children. The other? He says he teamed up with to publicly shame pedophile priests. What's the truth?

Episode 6: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Smoke Screen: Fake Priest

  • 240 views
  • almost 2 years ago
  • 36:24

The father-daughter investigator team discovers the cop who arrested Father Ryan may have an ulterior motive. They defend Father Ryan tooth and nail - until they get a troubling surprise of their own.

Episode 5: Meet The Browns

Smoke Screen: Fake Priest

  • 240 views
  • almost 2 years ago
  • 37:09

A sheriff deputy arrests Father Ryan for taking more than $70,000 from an elderly follower. It's looking like he might get 7 years in prison, but then he meets a father-daughter pair of private investigators who change everything.

Episode 3: The Teacher

Smoke Screen: Fake Priest

  • 530 views
  • almost 2 years ago
  • 34:00

Even con artists need mentors. Meet the false prophet who teaches Father Ryan how to perfect his con. Father Ryan evades criminal charges again and Alex learns about an unspoken reason prosecutors could let many criminals go free.

Episode 2: Coming Home

Smoke Screen: Fake Priest

  • 620 views
  • almost 2 years ago
  • 36:09

Alex tracks down Father Ryan’s son, Jonathan Brady, and discovers Father Ryan was a scammer and manipulator long before he wore a priestly robe. Turns out he had plenty of practice committing fraud before he opened his first church in Wisconsin. 

Episode 1: An Unholy Priest

Smoke Screen: Fake Priest

  • 520 views
  • almost 2 years ago
  • 32:31

Investigative reporter Alex Schuman hears about a guy accused of swindling millions who has travelled the Midwest for decades pretending to be a priest. Alex starts his journey talking to two people who have long tried to expose the truth. Alex is hoping to finally figure out why anyone would try to pull off such an elaborate con.

Smoke Screen: Fake Priest Trailer

Smoke Screen: Fake Priest

  • 380 views
  • almost 2 years ago
  • 02:15

For 30 years, a man claimed to be a priest. He performed baptisms and took confession. Every time he ran into trouble, Father Ryan would move on to another small Midwestern town and start his scheme all over again. Followers who once worshiped him, now accuse him of exploitation, fraud and abuse. In season one of Smoke Screen, join Alex Schuman as he unravels this con and gets answers from this white-collar criminal himself.