Multi-millionaire Melissa Caddick disappeared from her Sydney home in November 2020. Several months later a single shoe – with her foot still in it – was found on a beach several hundred kilometres to the south of the city. At the time of her disappearance, Caddick was facing legal action against her Ponzi scheme and the defrauding of A$40 million from friends, family members and individuals.
Underbelly: Vanishing Act is a woeful, two part miniseries exploring both known facts and suppositions on the fate of Caddick (a miscast Kate Atkinson). With its extensive use of voiceover (particularly in the longer first episode), a lazy narration replaces story telling or character development as Caddick’s luxurious lifestyle in Sydney’s eastern suburbs with younger husband Anthony Koletti (Jerome Velinsky) is explained. Living off the savings of her parents, friends and family contacts, the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) eventually moved against Caddick, seizing assets including bank accounts, homes, cars and extensive designer-label wardrobe. Summoned to an online court hearing, Caddick promptly disappeared, leaving behind Koletti and Josh, teenage son from an earlier marriage.
Episode two is mostly pure conjecture in looking to an alternative to the assumed suicide. Having already introduced the fictional local gangster, George (Colin Friels) and his money laundering arrangement with Caddick to add spice to the tale, his presence adds some credence to the gossip of Caddick having been murdered by a dissatisfied client. Underbelly contacts would also help with false passports and disappearances.
Underbelly: Vanishing Act cannot provide the answers to Caddick’s disappearance and leaves the conclusions open. Sadly, this somewhat cobbled together lightweight tosh ultimately belittles her victims – and fails to present the level of intelligent manipulation by Melissa Caddick into her defrauding those around her.