Editor's note

We’ve all heard stories of career conmen and women, tricking their way to undeserved fortune. People like Pan Am pilot pretender Frank Abagnale, Soho grifter Anna Delvey and fake forensic scientist Gene Morrison have become notorious for their mass manipulation. But while we can usually map out how these fraudsters get away with their schemes, why is it that we believe them? Crimes by deception expert Tim Holmes thinks he’s found the answer by analysing the 23 year career of a very unlikely con artist: Fernando Waldo Demara.

Unlike his swindling peers, Demara did not wish for riches or fame. In fact, when asked about why he committed his crimes, he said it was down to “pure rascality”. In our latest long read, Holmes explains just how Demara used societal norms and humanity’s innate trustworthiness not to harm others but instead to establish himself as an authoritative academic, the respected warden of a maximum security prison, and a life-saving naval doctor.

Elsewhere we’ve been looking at whether there is a link between fitness trackers and eating disorders, and the best way to teach children a second language.

Ruth Dawson

Wales Editor

Top stories

Ferdinand Waldo Demara.

How to become a great impostor

Tim Holmes, Bangor University

How does a man with no education convince everyone he is a priest, professor and doctor?


Fitness trackers and eating disorders – is there a link?

Carolyn Plateau, Loughborough University

A small body of research has started to explore how fitness trackers and calorie counting apps might be linked to disordered eating and exercise.

It doesn’t have to be all fun and games. Shutterstock

What’s the best way to teach children a second language? New research produces surprising results

Karen Roehr-Brackin, University of Essex; Angela Tellier, University of Essex

Children as young as eight or nine could be taught in a more adult, analytical way.

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