The Museum of Hoaxes
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The Hoax Archive — A collection of the most notorious deceptions throughout history
Time Period: 2000-Present
Eras: 0-1699 1700s 1800-1868 1869-1913 1914-1949 1950-1976 1977-1989 1990s 2000s
Spud Server, 2000. Getting a potato to power a clock is a popular high school chemistry project. The website Spud Server purported to take this concept a step further by using potatoes to power an internet server. Visitors to the site (which loaded extremely slowly) could marvel at their interactive participation in such a technological feat. The site reached the peak of its popularity in March 2000 when both USA Today and the BBC, among others, ran stories about... Continue…
MalePregnancy.com, 2000. Mr. Lee Mingwei, the first pregnant man. The website MalePregnancy.com, which first appeared online in 1999, claimed to document the case of Mr. Lee Mingwei, who was supposedly the first human male to become pregnant. Visitors to the site could inspect a variety of documentary evidence about Mr. Mingwei's pregnancy. There were news reports, pictures, video clips, Mr. Mingwei's EKG, ultrasound images, and blood-pressure measurements. The site... Continue…
Snowball the Monster Cat, 2000. Washington-state resident Cordell Hauglie owned a fat family cat named Jumper. As a joke, he created a picture of himself holding a digitally enlarged version of this cat. He emailed the photo to his daughter, and thought nothing more of it. What he didn't realize is that the image then began spreading around the internet, where it became an online sensation. Continue…
The Emulex Hoax, 2000. A US Attorney announces the arrest of Mark Jakob Disturbing headlines greeted the shareholders of Emulex Corp. on the morning of August 25, 2000: "Emulex Announces Revised Earnings; SEC Launches Investigation Into Accounting Practices. Paul Folino Steps Down As CEO." The company's stock price responded swiftly to this news, which ran on all the major wire services, sinking from a morning high of $113.06 to a low of $43 by 10:30 a.m. Emulex... Continue…
The Stone Age Discoveries of Shinichi Fujimura, 2000. As a young man, Shinichi Fujimura developed an interest in Japan's pre-history and taught himself archaeology. Soon he was making spectacular finds that caught the attention of researchers around the world. By the age of 50, he had established himself as one of Japan's leading archaeologists. Fujimura's first major discovery occurred in 1981 when he found stoneware that dated back 40,000 years — the oldest stoneware ever found in Japan.... Continue…
Bonsai Kitten, 2000. The Bonsai Kitten website. Bonsai describes the ancient Japanese art of growing miniature trees by rigorous pruning of their roots and branches. Because of their small size, aesthetic appeal, and minimal upkeep requirements, Bonsai trees have long been popular additions to offices and homes. In late 2000 the website bonsaikitten.com debuted. It described how to apply the same Bonsai principles to kittens. The idea was to seal kittens inside... Continue…
Manbeef.com, 2001. The website Manbeef.com appeared online in early 2001 and immediately generated controversy. The site claimed to sell human flesh for the "sophisticated human meat consumer." Visitors to the site could read the 'recipe of the day' as they viewed pictures of attractive cuts of homo sapiens. Pictures of meat being squeezed through a grinder underscored exactly what they were selling. Continue…
Kaycee Nicole Swenson, 2001. Kaycee Nicole was a nineteen-year-old girl from Kansas dying of cancer. Or so believed the thousands of people who visited her website on which she kept a diary of her fight against leukemia. For over a year Kaycee Nicole had added updates to her diary, letting people know about the ups and downs of her struggle with the disease, about her hope as the cancer went into remission, and about her fear as it reappeared. Kaycee's mother, Debbie,... Continue…
Gorgeous Guy, 2001. 'Gorgeous Guy' Dan Baca, a 29-year-old network engineer, was going about his life, minding his own business, when suddenly people began staring at him. He noticed it first while he was standing at the busstop in the morning. Crowds of people were gathering, looking at him, whispering to each other. It happened a few days in a row. Finally he confronted them. Why, he demanded to know, was everyone staring at him? The reason, they told him, was... Continue…
Dave Manning, 2001. No matter how bad the movies of Columbia Pictures were, there was always one reviewer sure to heap praise on them — David Manning of the Ridgefield Press. For instance, while other reviewers skewered Hollow Man, Manning declared it, "One helluva scary ride! The summer's best special effects." The sophomoric comedy The Animal impressed him as "another winner," and he singled out Heath Ledger of A Knight's Tale as "this year's hottest new... Continue…
The Lovenstein Institute IQ Report, 2001. In July 2001 an e-mail began to circulate claiming that the Lovenstein Institute, a think-tank based in Scranton, Pennsylvania, had conducted research into the IQ of all the Presidents of the past 50 years and had concluded that George W. Bush ranked at the bottom, with an IQ of only 91. (Click here to read the text of the email.) The claim that G.W. Bush had the lowest IQ of any recent U.S. President attracted the attention of the international... Continue…
Tourist Guy, 2001. Soon after September 11, 2001, a sensational photo began circulating via email. It showed a tourist posing for a snapshot on top of the World Trade Center as a hijacked plane approached from behind. An accompanying caption explained that the photo came from a camera found in the rubble of the world trade center. Apparently the photo had been taken just seconds before disaster struck. Continue…
The Microsoft iLoo, 2003. On 30 April 2003, MSN UK, a division of Microsoft, issued a press release announcing the imminent introduction of the iLoo, the world’s first internet-enabled port-a-potty. The introduction of this product was described as part of Microsoft's effort to allow people to log on "anytime, any place, and anywhere." The iLoo, the press release promised, would include a wireless keyboard, a height-adjustable flat plasma screen, a six-channel... Continue…
The Cesky Sen Hypermarket, 2003. In early 2003 advertisements began to appear throughout Prague promoting a new hypermarket called Cesky Sen (or "Czech Dream") opening soon in the Lethany Fairgrounds. The ads appeared on billboards, at bus stops, in newspapers, and on TV. The store promised ultra-low prices, such as TVs for $19 and mineral water for pennies, and a special surprise for anyone who came to the grand opening on May 31, 2003. On the day of the grand opening,... Continue…
Hunting for Bambi, 2003. In July 2003, Las Vegas TV station KLAS-TV reported that a local company was selling “Bambi Hunts.” These were games in which men with paintball guns hunted naked women in the Nevada desert. Anyone could sign up to join in a "hunt", although it could cost as much as $10,000 per game. An international media frenzy ensued. Numerous critics denounced the hunts, pointing out that a paintball hitting a naked woman could seriously hurt her.... Continue…
The Mini Cooper Autonomous Robot, 2004. The website of Colin Mayhew offered details on how this eccentric, but apparently brilliant, engineer had built an "autonomous crash-preventing robot" from the body of a BMW Mini Cooper r50. Video showed the humanoid robot in action, stopping a car from crashing into a wall. The Mini Cooper Autonomous Robot was eventually revealed to be an elaborate viral marketing campaign designed to promote the new Mini Cooper. Continue…
Bush Voters have lower IQs, 2004. A chart that circulated online during the first months of 2004 purported to show that American states whose populations possess higher average incomes and higher average IQs voted for Gore in the 2000 Presidential elections. Their poorer, lower-IQ counterparts voted for Bush. The implication was that smart people vote Democratic, and stupid people vote Republican. Major newspapers and magazines, including the St. Petersburg Times and the... Continue…
The Yes Men’s Bhopal Hoax, 2004. On December 3, 2004 the BBC broadcast an interview with Jude Finisterra, who claimed to be a representative of Dow Chemical. The date was the 20th anniversary of the chemical disaster in Bhopal, and the BBC had sought out a representative from Dow to speak about the tragedy since Dow had inherited responsibility for the disaster via a corporate acquisition. During the interview, Mr. Finisterra shocked the BBC's audience when he said that not only... Continue…
The Runaway Bride, 2005. Georgia residents Jennifer Wilbanks and John Mason were to be married on April 30, 2005. But four days before the wedding Jennifer disappeared, sparking a nationwide search for her. She reappeared three days later in Albuquerque, New Mexico claiming she had been kidnapped. According to the statement she gave police, she said that while jogging on April 26 she had been grabbed by two individuals, a "hispanic male with short black hair and rotten... Continue…
JT LeRoy, 2005. In 1994 a teenage boy called JT (or Jeremy "Terminator") LeRoy began to attract attention in the literary community. He published a few short stories, but he also aggressively reached out to other, older writers, communicating with them by phone, email, and fax. He was a sympathetic character — a transgendered, homosexual, drug-addicted, pathologically shy teenager who had been living on the streets, forced into a life of truck-stop... Continue…
Space Cadets, 2005. In 2005, the British television show "Space Cadets" pulled off the most expensive and elaborate hoax in English television history. Continue…
Flemish Secession Hoax, 2006. In 2006, on a Belgian TV station news broadcast, it was announced that Flanders, the Dutch-speaking half of the country, had seceded from the country. Thirty minutes into the news bulletin,only after the station''s phonelines were swamped, it was revealed to be a "War of the Worlds"-style hoax. Continue…
Marry Our Daughter, 2007. The website MarryOurDaughter.com appeared online in September 2007. It claimed to be "an introduction service assisting those following the Biblical tradition of arranging marriages for their Daughters." In plainer language, it purported to be a service that would arrange marriages between underage girls and older husbands. Continue…
The Filipino Monkey, 2008. In January 2008 five Iranian speedboats approached three U.S. Warships in the Persian Gulf. The U.S. warships attempted to contact the Iranians: "This is coalition warship. I am engaged in transit passage in accordance with international law. I maintain no harm. Over!" A radio operator on one of the U.S. warships then heard a voice reply, "I am coming to you... You will explode in... minutes." At first the U.S. warships believed this message to... Continue…
Wine Spectator Hoaxed, 2008. Since 1981 the magazine Wine Spectator has given "Awards of Excellence" to restaurants that it deems to have exceptional wine lists. To win an award a restaurant must submit their wine list to the magazine and pay a $250 application fee. Over two-thirds of the restaurants who submit an application win an award, and the contest earns Wine Spectator over $1 million a year in fees. In 2008 the magazine gave an award to Osteria L’Intrepido, a... Continue…
Madoff Investment Securities, 2008. Bernard Madoff founded Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC in 1960. It became a prestigious firm on Wall Street, acting both as a market-maker (a middleman between buyers and sellers of shares) and as an investment fund that managed money for high-net-worth individuals and institutions. Year after year Madoff delivered reliable annual returns of around 10% for his investors. He managed to do this even in down markets when everyone else... Continue…
Angel at the Fence, 2008. The story of how Herman Rosenblat first met his wife, Roma, was remarkable. Rosenblat was imprisoned as a child in the Buchenwald concentration camp. He claimed that Roma, a Jewish girl disguised as a Christian who lived in the nearby town, used to throw apples over the fence for him. Twelve years later, the two met in Coney Island and realized where they had previously seen each other. They fell in love and got married. Rosenblat first shared... Continue…
Balloon Boy, 2009. On October 15, 2009, millions of people sat glued to their TVs, watching a silver, saucer-shaped balloon float through the sky. The media was reporting that a six-year-old boy, Falcon Heene, was inside the balloon, in danger for his life as it drifted out of control. After several hours, the balloon landed a few miles from Denver International Airport, but the boy was nowhere to be found. There were fears he had fallen out. Thankfully he was... Continue…

Hoax Archive Categories
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  • Paranormal
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  • Religion
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  • Television Hoaxes

  • All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.