Hamish McLaren was the ultimate conman. Over three decades and across four continents, he targeted a series of vulnerable women and swindled them of their savings. Featuring revealing interviews with several of his traumatized victims, Casanova Conman recounts his life of fraudulence and the events that led to his eventual capture.
In one anecdote, a single mother recalls how she was swept off her feet by McLaren, agreed to marry him, and eventually suspected he was seducing his 16-year old daughter. Another wealthy single mother opened her love and her savings to McLaren. By the time she caught on, he had already taken her for over $1.5 million, eventually forcing her to sell off her assets to pay off debtors. Another victim reveals how she first encountered McLaren on an online dating site. After a year and a half relationship, she only discovered the truth about her paramour after he was arrested for his prior exploits. She lost $320,000.
When his reign of betrayal came to a close, investigators discovered that he had swindled multiple women of over $8 million. When added to his other fraudulent activities, his cons had netted him more than $70 million.
The women describe the attributes that made McLaren such a successful conman. He was handsome, charming, and even appeared open about the failings of his past and personal imperfections. He drew a convincing portrait of himself as an unwanted child who grew into a self-made man of great dignity and ambition. He drove luxury cars and wore top-tier suits from famed designers. There was little reason for his victims to believe that he was conning them for cash.
In retrospect, each of his victims recognize the warning signs - the inconsistencies, the little white lies, the inexplicable behaviors - that characterized their relationships with McLaren. But they were too sheltered by their sense of blind trust and affection to act upon them until it was too late. In the end, however, some of his victims were able to reclaim their power over McLaren and bring him to justice.
Casanova Conman could be considered supermarket tabloid fodder by some, but it investigates a phenomenon that leads to real victims and a level of trauma that's difficult to grapple with and overcome.