Review: ‘America at Risk Stealing the Dream’

Another in a series of documentaries about societal problems in America, this hour has the content and style of a sweep series done by an aspiring news department at a major-market television station.

Another in a series of documentaries about societal problems in America, this hour has the content and style of a sweep series done by an aspiring news department at a major-market television station.

The targets here are ripoffs such as land scams and advance fee loan fraud. While the victims seem appropriately sympathetic, it is always astonishing that people actually fall for these guys.

That a seemingly normal couple from Chicago would buy, with no skepticism, real estate in Florida as a growth investment to ensure a child’s college education strains credulity. But, as Barnum said, you can bank on it.

Some fraud fighters give advice for eluding these dodges and host Edward Woodward implores viewers to call the Better Business Bureau or law enforcement agencies if snared by these villains.

But what audience doesn’t get enough of here are the blackguards themselves. Just who are these bloodsuckers? For better or worse, the bad guys are frequently more involving than the suckers.

And, one suspects, there are infinitely better lessons to be learned from former scoundrels who found redemption, if not through a higher power, then at least through cooperation with the prosecutors.

This installment lacks the grittiness and human dimension of the series’ first installment, about broken families and feral children. And it hardly taps the creative resources of producer Scott Craig.

But then it may save some innocent from ending up as owner of an absurdly overpriced quarter-acre of marshland on the edge of some desolate swamp in Florida. And that is a higher service than most sweep series.

America at Risk Stealing the Dream

(Sun. (7), 8-9 p.m., KTLA, Syndicated)

Production

Presented by Turner Entertainment and Tribune Broadcasting. Producers-writers , Scott Craig, Kathy Giangreco; director, Craig.

Crew

Editor, Michael S. O'Brien.

Cast

Host, Edward Woodward.
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