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True Crime To Watch Now


A glut of recent releases have fed our ravenous appetite for real-life wrongdoing. From deep dives into some of the most newsworthy scandals in recent history to old cases reinvigorated with fresh evidence, these seven true-crime documentaries all demand your attention.

The Tinder Swindler, Netflix

New Netflix doc The Tinder Swindler tells the jaw-dropping story of a prolific conman who posed as a billionaire playboy on Tinder – and the women who set out to bring him down. It’s not easy to find love online, so when Cecilie matches with Simon Leviev, she can’t quite believe it when he turns out to be the man of her dreams. But dreams aren't reality and by the time she discovers the international businessman isn’t who he says he is, it’s too late. He’s taken her for everything. But where this fairy tale ends, a revenge thriller begins. Cecilie tracks down his other targets and, once they band together, they're victims no more and the ‘Tinder Swindler’ meets his match. From the producers of The Imposter and the phenomenally successful Don’t F**k with Cats, this riveting true-crime series follows along as a brave band of women uncover their duper’s real identity and fight to bring him to justice.


Killing Escobar, BBC iPlayer

This documentary tells the incredible true story of Scottish mercenary Peter McAleese, who was hired to kill Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar in 1989. In Colombia, he gathered a select team of ex-Special Forces operatives and began training for a lightning raid on Escobar’s hacienda. After 11 weeks of intense preparation, the men launched the operation that would ultimately lead to disaster and have a devastating effect on McAleese and others. Thanks to unprecedented access to McAleese and other members of his team, this is the first full account of that fateful mission and the dark consequences for those involved. Drawing on McAleese’s personal archive, as well as never-before-seen amateur footage of the op, Killing Escobar weaves in dramatic reconstructions and interviews from McAleese and his fellow mercenaries. We also hear from one of Escobar’s bodyguards, members of America’s DEA and the security chief of the Colombian drug cartel that wanted Escobar eliminated. The film is a deeply personal character study of McAleese, a man trained to fight and kill, and the cost this has had on himself and his family.


The Puppet Master: Hunting The Ultimate Conman, Netflix

This recent series had SLMan staffers glued to their screens as it went behind the scenes of the thrilling story of one of the world’s most audacious conmen. Over the course of a decade, Robert Freegard controlled, conned and fleeced at least seven women and one man, stealing close to a million quid. His traumatised victims were led to believe they were accomplices in highly elaborate secret-service operations and that their families were in grave danger if they did not obey. Freegard exploited, abused and controlled them with extreme cruelty, confident his victims were too paralysed by fear to escape. Now, in an incredible twist, the story has reached the present day, and a family who feared for their mother’s safety are set to expose the truth.


The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley, Now

If the high-profile fraud trial of Elizabeth Holmes caught your eye recently, this is the doc that will get you up to speed – and keep you ahead of The Dropout, Disney+’s upcoming dramatized version. Directed by Oscar-winner Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room and Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief), it investigates the rise and fall of Theranos, the healthcare company she started when she dropped out of Stanford in 2004. A decade later, Theranos was valued at $9bn, making Holmes the youngest self-made female billionaire in the world – and the ‘next Steve Jobs’. Then US authorities identified a “massive fraud” by the SEC and Theranos’s value dropped to sub-zero. Drawing on extraordinary never-before-seen footage and testimony from key insiders, Gibney tells a Silicon Valley tale that was too good to be true. With all the drama of a real-life heist film, his film examines how this happened and who is responsible, while exploring the psychology of deception.


Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich, Netflix

With their frightening first-hand accounts, Jeffrey Epstein’s accusers – including Virginia Giuffre – are the leading voices in director Lisa Bryant’s and writer James Patterson’s four-part docuseries. Leading up to his 2019 arrest, financier Epstein was accused of abusing women and underage girls for decades, assembling a network of enablers – including long-term live-in girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell – to help carry out and cover up his crimes. Epstein came from humble beginnings yet managed to lie and manipulate his way to the top of the financial world. With money, influence and power, Epstein could do what he liked for years, building a web of blackmail material against others in high places along the way. Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich explores how he managed to gain his tremendous wealth and power – hanging out with the likes of Bill Clinton, Donald Trump and Harvey Weinstein – all while running an international sex trafficking ring. Despite Epstein’s death in 2019, this is still very much a live story – particularly when it comes to Prince Andrew, Maxwell and their friendships with the financier. This documentary gives context and survivor testimony to a scandal that continues to threaten those in positions of power.


Hunting the Essex Lorry Killers, BBC iPlayer

It started with a 999 call from a lorry driver in Essex and ended in one of the UK’s biggest ever police investigations – a hunt for those responsible for the deaths of 39 Vietnamese migrants. Spanning Britain, Europe and Vietnam, this film shows how detectives cracked open a multimillion-pound international smuggling ring with its roots in a seemingly innocuous haulage business in Northern Ireland. With exclusive access to Essex police, their officers and the evidence, the documentary reveals how detectives painstakingly pieced together a complex web of evidence, including the extraordinary role of someone known only as 'Witness X', whose evidence helped bring down the gang. The film also travels to Vietnam to meet the families of some of those who died in the back of the lorry. Together, this forms an account of one of the UK’s most shocking recent crimes and a story that lifts the lid on the hidden world of organised crime's trade in people.


The Devil’s Advocate: How to Win Fiends and Influence Despots, Now TV

Jim Sheridan, a six-time Oscar-nommed writer-director, has a fresh project. Giovanni Di Stefano represented a collection of the world’s worst dictators and kingpins, before being jailed for masquerading as a lawyer. It transpired he had no formal legal qualifications, yet Di Stefano’s cast of clients was impressive: Manuel Noriega, Saddam Hussein, Tariq Aziz, ‘Chemical Ali’, Slobodan Milosevic, Arkan the warlord, Charles Manson, plus gangsters Charlie Richardson and Brink’s-Mat bandit John ‘Goldfinger’ Palmer. After the ‘lawyer’ served eight years in jail, he was released in 2021 and Sheridan's team followed his next moves. With exclusive access to Di Stefano’s family, long-term assistant and personal lawyer, The Devil's Advocate traces the highlights and lowlights of his career – from owning Dundee Football Club to representing Hussein – and discovers what’s next for him.


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