Documentary on One

I Can Tell by Looking at You

The story of just how little looks count - of an Irish woman who gets mixed up in an identity fraud that leads to huge sums of money being internationally laundered.

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3.8/5 (104 ratings)

Documentary Maker: Louise Williams

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Documentary-maker: Ronan Kelly

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I Can Tell by Looking at You

Louise Williams is a radio reporter who has spent years visiting hotspots around the world - Iran, Gaza, northern Sri Lanka, Haiti. Adventure has always run in her blood, taking her on a long road trip across West Africa and to the remote and little-known Central African Republic to spend 6 months doing humanitarian work.

She now works as a radio reporter and trainer based in Dublin.

She runs workshops for radio reporters with a Dutch human rights organisation, visiting eastern Congo, northern Uganda and occasionally the Hague to carry out training sessions.

In February of this year, she was travelling back to Dublin after giving a 2 day workshop in the Netherlands.

Louise only had hand luggage when she joined the queue to passport control in Schiphol airport. When she handed over her travel documents, the border policeman spent a long time checking something in his computer.

‘Can you step into our office, we just want to ask you a few questions?’ he asked Louise after a few minutes.

In the office, the border police explained that her name had come up in the system and they needed to call the police in Amsterdam to find out why. It would take just 15 minutes, they assured her, she would still make her flight.

After a few minutes, the phone rang and the police officer answered.

Nothing, in all her years spent negotiating her way through dangerous countries, prepared Louise for the fear that she felt when she heard the policeman say the words "You're under arrest". They said it was for internet fraud. Telling them that this was a mistake, that she was innocent, that they had no right to arrest her made no difference.

Louise had her shoes and belt removed, she was brought to a cell where she was searched and then left to wait.

‘I’ve been to prisons several times to do interviews as a journalist,’ says Louise. ‘But sitting in a cell by myself, looking at that metal door with the small window in it, with no idea how long I’m going to be held - 2 hours, 2 days, 2 weeks - it’s the most frightening experience of my life. Plus I hadn’t been allowed to make a phone call so no-one knew where I was.’

'I Can Tell by Looking At You' is the story of just how little looks count when your identity gets mixed up in fraud.

Produced by Louise Williams and Ronan Kelly


"MainFrame", Scanner

"Psychoide", remix By Scanner

"From the Valley to the Stars", El Perro del Mar

"The Plateaux Of Mirror", Harold Budd, Brian Eno

"My Lost Love Hunting Your Lost Face", Scanner

First broadcast on RTÉ Radio 1 on Saturday 24th September 2011 @ 6pm

An Irish radio documentary from RTÉ Radio 1, Ireland - Documentary on One - the home of Irish radio documentaries.

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