The Museum of Hoaxes
hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive
 
Eras: 0-1699 1700s 1800-1868 1869-1913 1914-1949 1950-1976 1977-1989 1990s 2000s
The Hoax Archive — A collection of the most notorious deceptions throughout history
Internet Hoaxes
Microsoft Buys the Catholic Church, 1994. In 1994 a press release began circulating online, primarily via email, claiming that Microsoft had bought the Catholic church. (Click here to read the press release.) The announcement, which bore a Vatican City dateline, noted that this was "the first time a computer software company has acquired a major world religion." The release then quoted Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates as saying that he considered religion to be a growth market and that,... Continue…
Our First Time, 1998. When the website OurFirstTime.com debuted in early 1998, it promised to offer an internet first. Web surfers would be able to share in the experience as two wholesome 18-year-olds, Mike and Diane, lost their virginity together at 9 pm on August 4, 1998. The event would be broadcast live, as it happened. Continue…
The Blair Witch Project, 1999. In 1999 The Blair Witch Project became a multimillion-dollar box-office sensation. Much of this success owed to a clever marketing scheme centering around a website, blairwitch.com. The premise of the site (and the movie) was that in 1994 three student filmmakers had disappeared in the woods near Burkitsville, Maryland while shooting a documentary about the local legend of the Blair Witch. Supposedly the Blair Witch was Elly Kedward, a woman... Continue…
Final Curtain, 1999. The Final Curtain Website. In March 1999, an ad appeared in a variety of weekly magazines, such as the L.A. Weekly and the Village Voice. It read, "Death got you down? At last an alternative! www.finalcurtain.com" The website that it led to announced the imminent launch of a novel kind of cemetery. At the Final Curtain Cemetery artists would be allowed to design their own graves before they died. The result would be a cemetery that would be part... Continue…
Ron’s Angels, 1999. It is legal to sell donor eggs to infertile couples. However, Ron Harris, an erotic photographer, proposed taking this process one step further. He established a website, Ronsangels.com, at which nubile supermodels auctioned off their eggs to the highest bidders. The concept outraged other members of the infertility industry. Continue…
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…
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…
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 NASA Satellite Photo. Soon after 9/11 an email began to circulate urging people to light a candle and stand outside their home with it at a specified date and time (the date varied between versions of the email). Supposedly a NASA satellite would then take a photograph of the entire nation illuminated by candlelight in order to demonstrate the solidarity of the American people in the face of terrorist aggression. The photo would appear on NASA's website the following... 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 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…
Lcpl. Boudreaux’s Sign. In March 2004, a photo circulated online showing an American soldier posing with two Iraqi boys. One of the boys was holding a sign that read, "Lcpl Boudreaux killed my Dad, then he knocked up my sister!" The Council on American-Islamic Relations saw the picture and complained to the Pentagon about it. The photo also received coverage in publications such as Islam Online. But it turned out that there were multiple versions of the photo in... 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…
Andy Kaufman Returns. The comedian Andy Kaufman died of lung cancer on May 16, 1984. But twenty years later, on May 16, 2004, a press release announced that he was still alive and living in New York City on the Upper West Side. Simultaneously, a blog authored by Kaufman appeared online. The press release explained that Kaufman had merely faked his death twenty years ago. But now he was back! During his life Kaufman had been fascinated with the idea of faking his... 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…
I Buy Strays. The website IBuyStrays.com appeared online in late December 2007 and quickly achieved notoriety. The site purported to represent a business that bought unwanted pets and stray animals and resold them to research labs for animal experimentation. Continue…
The Maurice Jarre Wikipedia Hoax. When composer Maurice Jarre died on March 28, 2009, many of the journalists given the job of writing an obituary for him turned to Wikipedia for information about his life. There they found the following quotation attributed to him: "One could say my life itself has been one long soundtrack. Music was my life, music brought me to life, and music is how I will be remembered long after I leave this life. When I die there will be a final waltz... Continue…

Hoax Archive Categories
  • Email
  • Websites
  • Wikipedia
  • Legal
  • Linguistic
  • Literary Hoaxes
  • Mass Panic
  • Media Hoaxes
  • Military
  • Mistaken for a Hoax
  • Movies
  • Music
  • Newspapers and Magazines
  • Outrage Hoaxes
  • Paranormal
  • Photography
  • Political
  • Pranks
  • Pranksters
  • Pseudoscience
  • Radio Hoaxes
  • Religion
  • Romance
  • Rumors and Legends
  • Science
  • Sex
  • Show Business
  • Social Activism
  • Sports
  • Technology
  • Television Hoaxes

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