Meet The Private Investigator From Chasing Charlie, Your Next True-Crime Podcast Obsession

By Rick Stephens
25th Jun 2020

A portrait of private investigator Julia Robson, who's wearing a white t-shirt and standing in front of a grey background.

The new true-crime podcast series Chasing Charlie is about as Juicy as they come. The seven-part series follows an eight-year chase of New Zealand con artist Paul Bryan Gill, it involves six-figure cash sums, intercontinental escape acts and it’s told by the private investigator who worked the case from day dot, Julia Robson.

Robson, who’s been in the P.I game for just shy of 15 years, and was previously part of the New Zealand Police Force, no doubt knows a swindler when she sees one, but it was when she met one of Gill’s earlier victims, Vivien, that she knew this case would be different.

“As soon as Vivien told me her story, I knew that I had to help her. Over time, a friendship developed between the two of us, and I really knew that if I didn’t help her, then this guy probably would get away with what he’s done” says Robson.

Vivien, who met Gill through online dating classifieds, was scammed out of $70,000 within the first two months of the pair’s relationship through a series of investments that promised huge return. Digging deeper, it didn’t take long until a slew of other victims—all with similar experiences—were discovered.

“As I spoke to more people, I worked out the reason why this guy has been getting away with this for so long is that he keeps the amount scammed pretty low even though obviously it’s quite a lot for the victim.

“Then, he’ll skip town, and who investigates that? It’s very hard, and so this is the perfect storm for an investigator to say ‘look, I’ll take on this, I’ll put together a file, I’ll give them a to share their story.”

The end of each episode feels like a tip-of-the-iceberg moment, with new leads, evidence and victims opening up facets to a story of destruction and deceit, which can be partly attributed to Gill’s ruthlessness and commitment to his craft.

“It was anyone for him. If you came into his radar, he would scan you, he would interview you, he would work out a way to get money from you.” says Robson. 

While Gill’s case had its own signature peaks and troughs, the swindler also shared similarities and patterns found in the techniques of other con-artists, both in the types of victims they look for and in the way they’d lie—which ironically would consist of some degree of truth. 

It’s these tell-tale signs, among others, that help investigators like Robson stay so closely on the scent of the case. 

“They look for vulnerability in their victims. That’s how con artists get away with it. They are looking for people to put their trust in them.

“Most liers will have some element of the truth, so that they can, to some degree, remember their lie.” Robson said.

While Chasing Charlie exposes the necessary truths of Paul Bryan Gill, the podcast also serves as a break in the stigma for other people who find themselves in situations similar to these, which Robson suggests is far more common than you’d think. 

“It doesn’t matter who you are, it doesn’t matter how educated you are, you could be incredibly intelligent, but at the right moment and by the right person, you can be conned. We shouldn’t be scared to talk about this.

“If you do find yourself in this situation, you don’t have to be embarrassed. There are people such as myself and my colleagues that you can talk to, and there’s no shame in it.” Robson Says.

You can listen to all seven episodes of Chasing Charlie via Acast.

Image credit: supplied. 

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