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
Romance Hoaxes
Count d’Armagnac’s Forged Papal Bull, c.1455. Count Jean V d'Armagnac of France (shown above) fell in love with his younger sister and had two sons with her. Then he sought approval from the Pope to marry her. The Pope refused. Undeterred, the Count bribed a papal official to forge a papal bull allowing the marriage. When the Pope learned of this, he excommunicated the Count. Later, King Charles VII's army killed the Count and dragged his body through the streets. Continue…
Graham’s Celestial Bed, 1775. James Graham was a notorious medical quack. He promised customers he could cure them of a variety of ills if they slept in his "celestial bed," for which he charged £50 a night. The bed had a mattress filled with "sweet new wheat or oat straw, mingled with balm, rose leaves, and lavender flowers." Electricity crackled across its headboard. Spending a night in it may have been a novel experience. But it had no curative powers. Continue…
The Bigamist of San Bernardino, 1873. On December 16, 1873 the Los Angeles Evening Express published an article describing a man in San Bernardino who, because of a loophole in the law, was legally allowed to remain married to two women, despite the efforts of townsfolk to force him to divorce at least one of his wives. News of the case caused an uproar in California. However, the story was entirely fictitious, as the Evening Express revealed two weeks later. Unfortunately, the... 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 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…
Marry Our Daughter, 2007. The website 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…
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…

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