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From fertility to self-help, these true crime podcasts cover criminal acts that are truly stranger than fiction.

When you think of true crime, certain catchphrases come to mind: cold cases, murder, robbery, and of course, serial killers. But the true crime genre goes far beyond bloodshed and jewel heists. We’re counting down our favorite true crime podcasts that cover criminal acts that, as Lydia Deetz might have put it, are strange and unusual.

The bizarre characters who committed these crimes behaved far outside the norm; but when it comes to true crime, maybe trendsetting isn’t such a good thing.

So put on your tinfoil hat and indulge in the quirkier side of true crime. From the peculiar to eccentric, the uncanny to grotesque we’re covering our top picks for true crime podcasts that will make you simply go, “They did whaaaat?”

When it comes to true crime, how do you describe weird? Well, you’re about to find out. 

Guru

Have you ever been enjoying an innocent cup of coffee with a new acquaintance, complaining about how your blind dates always end badly or you never get that promotion you are working so hard for, when your new friend comments about your “rackets” and other “self-limiting” beliefs? Before you know it, you have been invited to a self-help seminar where all of life’s problems will be solved for you. You might even learn the walk on fiery coals or break a board with the power of your mind.

Sounds intriguing, right? But before you sign up for that $600 seminar, listen to Guru: the dark side of enlightenment.

While the self-help industry has a broad spectrum of practitioners, some more worthy of your devotion than others, it is important to know what you are getting into before you sign on the dotted line of that rather precarious waiver. Guru details the story of James Arthur Ray, a wildly popular self-help guru who promised adherents he could help them climb out of any situation of despair and hopelessness. They could reclaim their lives and destinies, he assured them. For a small fee, of course.

Until one day, his teachings went too far, and people ended up dead. Guru tells the story of when self-help takes a dangerous turn, in this true crime story unlike any you’ve ever heard.

Immaculate Deception

Dr. Jan Karbaat had gained quite a following amongst those in the TTC (trying to conceive) phase of life. Women who had tried for years to get pregnant suddenly found themselves expecting a baby under the care of the good doctor. His insemination services went viral. What could his methodology be? What secrets of alchemy to fertility did he possess that finally gave hope to many despairing hopeful parents?

Immaculate Deception explores the truth behind Dr. Karbaat’s unusual (and by unusual we mean criminal) methodologies. This might be the most cringeworthy true crime podcast ever. The way Dr. Karbaat guaranteed results for his clients is nothing short of jaw-dropping.

The Missing CryptoQueen

People are all about revolutions, especially when it comes to getting rich. So when Dr. Ruja Ignatova arrived on the scene, proclaiming her intent to change the entire infrastructure of money as it is currently known with her handy-dandy new cryptocurrency, thousands of followers saw dollar signs in their eyes. Dr. Ruja saw dollar signs as well. So much so, that she made billions off a technology that didn’t even exist before vanishing practically into thin air.

It wasn’t a jewel heist or telemarketing scammer masquerading as an IRS agent, but it was just as effective and certainly lucrative. The Missing CryptoQueen tells the story of the perfect con at the leading edge of a technology movement giving hope to so many–until it took everything away.

The Shrink Next Door

You are at your most vulnerable in a clinician’s office, whether it be a psychiatrist, therapist or counselor. And when it is done right, therapy can be the perfect thing to help boost mental health. But psychiatry and true crime are about the worst combination imaginable; a dangerous quagmire of manipulation and deception.

The Shrink Next Door podcast tells the story of a therapist who crossed so many professional lines he became a candidate for incarceration. True crime podcasts have likely already made you feel suspicious of your neighbor, your doctor, the random person you encounter at the gas station. The Shrink Next Door will have you casting a suspicious eye on your therapist as well.

Uncover: Escaping NXIVM

In 1954 a French novelist was challenged by her lover to write a BDSM style romance novel that could surpass all others. The result of that challenge became The Story of O — a novel that would make even the most faithful Fifty Shades of Grey adherent blush. But what its author Anne Desclos could never know was that someday a cult would come along that bore an eerie resemblance to her fictional world. Had someone taken her novel so seriously that they attempted to recreate it?

Uncover: Escaping NXIVM tells the story of a self-help seminar that, on the surface, seemed like your everyday entrepreneurial group. But for its victims, the reality behind its teachings resembled something closer to a horror story.

Weird True Crime Podcasts

Lewis Carroll, the writer of Alice in Wonderland, once said, “I’m not strange, weird, off, nor crazy, my reality is just different than yours.”

Well, the reality of these true crimes is strange, weird, crazy, and in a different reality altogether.

Craving more true crime? Check out these true crime podcasts that delve into dark stories of romance gone wrong.

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