Produced by Emily M. Bernstein and Chiara Norbitz
Through never-before-seen footage and in-depth interviews, “The FBI Declassified” takes you inside the minds of heroic federal agents and analysts as they reveal how they solved some of the biggest cases of their careers. Watch Tuesdays at 10/9c on CBS.
“This is a story of a woman and her manipulations and cons over the last 20, 25 years,” says FBI Special Agent Mark Hastbacka. “We have the identity theft. The credit card theft. … fugitive from justice. She’s forging checks … straight up larceny, taking the rent money.”
For decades, moving from state to state, Agent Hastbacka says Dana Lawrence swindled victims – wealthy businessmen, a pilot, a rabbi, a private school administrator and her own friends and lovers. At one point, she pretended to be an heir to the Estee Lauder cosmetics fortune and passed herself off as working for filmmaker George Lucas.
Hastbacka says Lawrence carried out scams where she sometimes either became pregnant or pretended to be pregnant. She also posed as an attorney and a fundraiser. Along the way, she told her children to go by different names to cover her tracks. He also uncovered how Lawrence used her children as props to gain sympathy.
“She just robbed me of my childhood,” says daughter Kennedy Lawrence. “She robbed my brother and my sister of their childhoods.”
“I really didn’t know what to expect,” says Hastbacka of Dana Lawrence. “I certainly didn’t think that it would be a wanted fugitive that’s been on the run for 13 or 14 years.”
“I don’t know what Dana’s magnetism is,” Hastbacka says. “I don’t know what lures all these guys to her. But she doesn’t seem to have a problem finding her next victim in that love circle.”
THE CON GAME
In 2017, the case of a woman named Dana Lawrence landed on the desk of FBI Special Agent Mark Hastbacka. He had no idea he was about to expose a career con artist who had swindled hundreds of thousands of dollars from victims, usually men, using at least 15 different aliases across 16 states.
Kennedy Lawrence | Dana’s daughter: I remember just always being on the move. … New York, Maine, Rhode Island, Florida, Chicago, California, Boston.
Mark Hastbacka: New Hampshire … Maryland, … Georgia. She’s been in North Carolina. … Texas. Been in Pennsylvania. Been in Provo, Utah. Been in Arizona. … Colorado, too. That’s the ones we know about.
Dana grew up in St. Augustine, Florida. As a teenager, she had a baby girl she gave up for