Believable: The Coco Berthmann Story

Believable: The Coco Berthmann Story

Coco Berthmann became internet-famous by sharing her story of surviving sex trafficking as a young child growing up in Germany. She was sheltered and supported by families in Utah, where her faith and fame intertwined. But in 2022, Coco was arrested for raising money for a fake cancer diagnosis, and people began to doubt everything that she had ever said. Is her life story truly one big elaborate lie? Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Sara Ganim and Edward R. Murrow Award-winning showrunner Karen Given investigate in Dear Media’s first true crime podcast.

Episodes

September 21, 2023 72 mins

As Coco Berthmann’s lies are exposed, survivors band together and ask why she wasn’t stopped sooner. Meanwhile, Coco makes her last appearance in court for lying about cancer, but the case against her only addressed a fraction of the money she raised. What happened to the rest of the money? And, as Coco tries to move on after her arrest, more people come forward to suggest that her lies and manipulation continue.


If you...

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In the spring and summer of 2021, Coco Berthmann seemed to be at the height of her popularity. She recorded a TEDx talk and appeared at events with Elizabeth Smart. But behind the scenes, more and more people were starting to doubt her story. Her solution? Come up with a bigger lie.


But even as Coco announced her cancer “diagnosis” on Instagram, internet sleuths were documenting her every move. And soon, Coco would find...

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September 7, 2023 47 mins

From the start of our investigation, we’ve heard the same question over and over again. “Why would someone lie about these things?” This week, we attempt to find out why Coco Berthmann lies ... with Forensic Psychiatrist Dr. Sohom Das.


If you or a loved one is struggling, help is available:

Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: Dial 988

National Human Trafficking Hotline: 888-373-7888

RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Net...

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August 31, 2023 46 mins

Coco told a lot of lies about her connection to Celine Dion. But to everyone’s surprise, one of the things she said about Celine appears to be rooted in truth. But a conversation that was meant to be a light-hearted look into Coco’s obsession with a pop star quickly turns more serious, as we examine the human cost of Coco’s lies. Plus, thanks to some clues Coco left behind, we get our first real glimpse into her mental hea...

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August 24, 2023 50 mins

The investigation returns to Germany to answer more questions about Coco’s childhood. This time, we focus on Coco’s accusations against Sebastian, a therapist who Coco says held her hostage and abused her for two years. Spoiler: As near as we can tell, Sebastian never existed. But to our surprise, there is another therapist who seems to have acted unethically, if not illegally, in Coco’s care.


If you or a loved one is ...

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August 17, 2023 49 mins

Coco Berthmann’s student visa is set to expire, and she’s desperate to stay in the United States. So… her story grows. Again. Coco meets with a best-selling author to talk about collaborating on a book. She tries to convince journalist Chris Hansen to make a documentary criticizing a major anti-trafficking organization… with her as a central character in the film. And she files rape charges against a well-known anti-traffi...

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August 10, 2023 46 mins

As Coco’s popularity grows, so do her lies. One of Coco’s videos captures the attention of conspiracy theorists, who spread it all across the globe. And Coco learns, the more outrageous her content, the more attention she gets. Behind closed doors, child sex trafficking organizations in Utah are beginning to question Coco’s story. But they’re still supporting her in public … and profiting from her celebrity.


If you or ...

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To try to get to the truth of Coco Berthmann’s past, the investigation turns to Germany. Coco’s mother provides evidence to contradict many of Coco’s most horrific stories. But it’s clear that people were concerned about Coco’s welfare from the age of 12, when she first started showing signs of abuse. And even her mother believes that something must have happened to her. The investigation zeroes in on her mother’s former b...

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July 27, 2023 42 mins

By the summer of 2019, Coco Berthmann has gone public with her story. She's regularly invited to appear on podcasts and to speak at anti-trafficking events. One organization even flies her to Miami to give the keynote address at a star-studded benefit for survivors. But privately, Coco's story just isn't adding up. She shows all the outward signs of having lived through trauma, but she keeps getting caught in lies that hav...

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It's February 2017, years before Coco Berthmann goes public with her story. She's a 23-year-old German au pair, living in Las Vegas. And she travels to Utah for college classes that are a requirement of her visa. There, she meets an instructor we’re calling Emily. The two quickly develop a Facebook friendship. Coco opens up about the abuse she endured back home in Germany. And Emily shares her faith, as a member of the Chu...

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July 13, 2023 36 mins

Coco Berthmann’s star is rising. She's young and pretty. And her eagerness to talk about the abuse she endured makes her a rarity in the anti-child sex trafficking space. For a while, it seems like Coco is everywhere, sharing her story of survival at international conferences, on podcasts and to her tens of thousands of social media followers. But in January of 2022, Coco shares some distressing news: She’s been diagnosed ...

Mark as Played

Coco Berthmann became internet-famous by sharing her story of surviving sex trafficking as a young child growing up in Germany. She was sheltered and supported by families in Utah, where her faith and fame intertwined. But in 2022, Coco was arrested for raising money for a fake cancer diagnosis, and people began to doubt everything that she had ever said. Is her life story truly one big elaborate lie? Pulitzer Prize-winnin...

Mark as Played

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