True crime is a darling of the podcast world. Among the plethora of true crime podcasts available, ABC Radio’s Unravel has created a niche for itself.
Each season charts the investigation of unsolved crimes by some of Australia’s best journalists. The first three seasons have been huge hits, but S4 really takes the cake. It’s a seven-part series called Unravel: Snowball and focuses on relationship fraud.
It’s a true story and a fast-paced one at that. At the centre of the storm is Greg Wards, a naive 20-something Kiwi, who fell in love with charismatic Californian Lezlie Manukian. Greg is an Americanophile and gets smitten by this American instantly. After meeting at a house party in London, their romance picks up steam. She showers Greg with lavish gifts and treats him to expensive booze in top clubs. They both go to Greg’s native New Zealand, planning to get married eventually. This is when their lives start to change. Lezlie claims to be a refugee from Armenia and tells Greg she has inherited a million dollars from her biological parents. She offers muddy details about how she ended up in Europe, but Greg was madly in love and he trusted her.
They open a cafe with a $1.5M loan. Greg’s parents were guarantors. Do you see where this is going? It’s a thrilling ride from London to Paris to New Zealand to Hawaii to California.
The host of this podcast is Ollie Wards. “Wait, another Wards?” you say? Well, he is Greg’s brother. Ollie started recording the podcast when his father began investigating the case. Ollie is a superb host, and he keeps listeners hooked. His skill shines through in the confrontation episode, which definitely deserves a special mention. It is a fresh take on this style of podcasts, given how personally attached Ollie is to the story and the way he knows every character so intimately.
This season is absolutely binge-worthy. Listen