Podcast duped by Tinder Swindler Fake

Comment from Peter Saxon

Amid serious stories on the war in Ukraine and a FOX Sports reporter’s disgrace, last night’s Media Watch carpeted The Briefing, a daily 20 minute podcast that can be heard through SCA’s LiSTNR app. 

The particular episode in question was aired on March 11 and featured an interview by host Katrina Blowers with a Norwegian woman, Cecilie Fjellhøy, who has become somewhat of a celebrity since appearing on the Netflix doco, The Tinder Swindler, as one of several women taken to the cleaners by an Israeli conman, Simon Leviev.

KATRINA BLOWERS: Thirty-three-year-old Cecilie Fjellhøy is one of Leviev’s victims — she was even thinking about moving in with him — and she joins us from Norway now.

… he looked pretty good on his Instagram, didn’t he?

CECILIE FJELLHØY: Yeah, he does and that’s what got me attracted to him because he’s my type …

All well and good, except that, as it turned out, the woman being interviewed on the podcast was an impostor, who for some nefarious reason which, for now, is best known to herself, went out of her way to dupe the show’s producers.

As the Media Watch transcript reveals, The Briefing admitted to listeners, a couple of days later, that they’d been conned.

MW Host Paul Barry: We don’t know if that’s the first hint The Briefing had that they themselves had been swindled. But we do know that two days later Blowers was back on air with this important update:

KATRINA BLOWERS: … we wanted to let you all know that we had to take down our Friday episode of The Briefing …

If you didn’t hear it, that was the interview about the Netflix series with one of the victims, or at least so we thought.

– The Briefing, LiSTNR, 13 March, 2022

Paul Barry: So, they thought. As host (producer) Tom Tilley, a former Triple J presenter, then explained:

TOM TILLEY: … turns out the person Katrina interviewed wasn’t the real Cecilie. And yes, we do realise the irony of this. Someone was impersonating her and our suspicion is that this imposter was trying to profit from the story, either through fake fundraising or paid media interviews. She asked us to pay her but we refused that offer and now that episode has been taken down. Bit of a wild one there.

– The Briefing, LiSTNR, 13 March, 2022

Paul Barry: Wild is one way to describe it. An embarrassing cock-up is another.

Fair cop. And worth a chuckle. But it’s hardly as if it were a Foreign Correspondent reporter falling for a deep fake impersonation of Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, saying he’s ready to surrender to the Russians. 

Paul Barry: Why didn’t anyone on the show twig that the accent of the woman they were talking to was about as far away from Norwegian as you can get?

In all honesty, Paul, unless it’s pointed out to me in the meticulous way you set out to demonstrate to viewers of last night’s show, I would’ve struggled to pick the fake accent from Norwegian or many other European accents other than perhaps French, German or Italian.

I’d also venture to suggest that a Chinese or a Cockney accent would be much further away from Norwegian than the impostor’s. In any case, although it’s obvious to us, most foreigners can’t tell the difference between an Australian accent and a Kiwi’s, especially if they’re not listening for it.

To be fair, that episode of The Briefing was a light entertainment podcast that wouldn’t normally be subject to the level of fact checking that a Four Corners or, dare I say, a Media Watch requires before they put, say, an unidentified whistle-blower to air who purports to have information that could bring down a government.

Don’t get me wrong, in general, I think Media Watch is an important program that holds the media to account. In these times of misinformation, I would have thought they had bigger fish to fry.

On this occasion, though, I think they’ve gone way over the top in scolding a small podcast for having been duped in a way that they could not have reasonably foreseen. Besides, they openly admitted their mistake to their listeners as soon as they became aware of it. No harm done. 

You can watch the segment and access the full transcript below…

Peter Saxon





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