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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Con Artists
A Disposition to Be Rich, by Geoffrey Ward
Posted by The Curator on Wed May 09, 2012
A new book to add to my reading list: A Disposition to Be Rich csmonitor.com Geoffrey Ward’s cagily titled book, A Disposition to Be Rich, about his great grandfather isn’t so much written as lived in. In colorful and remarkable detail it chronicles the brazen exploits of Ferdinand Ward, “the best-hated man in the United States” and the pre-eminent Ponzi schemer of the Reconstruction Era. Not only did Ferd swindle former President Ulysses S. Grant out of millions in today’s dollars – making Grant a near-pauper as he was dying of tongue cancer – but Ferd’s greed also caused the collapse of several banks and the embarrassment of any number of high-ranking politicians…
Categories: Books, Con Artists Comments (0)
Fairy Kidnappings and Fairy Shysters
Posted by The Curator on Fri May 04, 2012
Fairies have a pretty good public image. They're widely regarded as good creatures, since they're small, delicate, and magical. But in European folklore, they were often considered quite malevolent. The wikipedia article on fairies notes the belief in fairy kidnapping: Any form of sudden death might stem from a fairy kidnapping, with the apparent corpse being a wooden stand-in with the appearance of the kidnapped person. Consumption (tuberculosis) was sometimes blamed on the fairies forcing young men and women to dance at revels every night, causing them to waste away from lack of rest. Fairies riding domestic animals, such as cows or pigs or ducks, could cause paralysis or mysterious illnesses.
Categories: Con Artists, Paranormal Comments (1)
Carlingford University
Posted by The Curator on Fri Jan 20, 2012
Kenneth ShongI think I'll add a degree from Carlingford University to my resume. I'll list it alongside my degree in Loch Ness Monster studies from Bigfoot U. Carlingford was a fake university -- a diploma mill -- created by con artist Kenneth Shong, while he was in prison on forgery charges. He was getting his fellow inmates to enroll there, having convinced them it was real. Though one inmate became suspicious of "'poor business practices and unresponsiveness' in relation to the school returning his grades and giving further lessons." Shong made a website for Carlingford, to make it seem slightly more legitimate. I found an archived copy of the…
Categories: Con Artists, Education Comments (2)
Turning Yankee dirt into gold
Posted by The Curator on Wed Jan 18, 2012
Mark HaywardA pile of dirt may not be worth much money. But a pile of dirt that was once beneath Yankee Stadium could potentially have more value. Especially if that dirt was packed into key chains and other corporate gift items and then sold at a big markup in sporting goods stores. That was the pitch Mark Hayward used to convince a victim to give him $35,000 -- as an investment in this Yankee dirt scheme. As far as I can tell (the news report isn't really clear) Hayward never had the dirt in question. Eventually the victim got suspicious. And now Hayward is facing charges of first-degree larceny. Link:…
Fake Cocaine
Posted by The Curator on Tue Nov 25, 2008
On June 4 Steven Decker of Muscatine, Iowa sold a white powder to an undercover agent. He said it was cocaine, but it wasn't. It was fake cocaine. In the eyes of the law, this doesn't let him off the hook. He's being charged with "delivery of a simulated controlled substance" and is looking at up to ten years in prison and $50,000 in fines. I'm sure Decker is not exactly a boy-scout, but being charged for selling fake cocaine is a curious concept. Added irony: he was selling a simulated controlled substance to a simulated controlled substance buyer.
Don’t buy diamonds in a Wal-Mart parking lot
Posted by The Curator on Fri Nov 21, 2008
Here's one for the "If you're this stupid, you deserve to be conned" file: The victim encounters two people in a Wal-Mart parking lot who are engaging in a transaction involving a diamond. The buyer (a man) offers the seller (a woman) $20,000 for the diamond. A normal person would think, "This is an odd location to be having this kind of transaction." Instead, the victim asks if she can buy a diamond also, and gets $1900 from the bank to pay for it. Surprise! She later discovers the diamond is fake. Link: Recordnet.com
Categories: Con Artists, Scams Comments (2)
Once a con artist, always a con artist
Posted by The Curator on Wed Sep 17, 2008
Tony Golossian is accused of repeatedly luring a woman to motels, where he then blindfolded and sexually assaulted her. He told her it was all part of a ritual to remove a "black magic" curse on her family. If she didn't agree to participate, her 15-year-old sister would supposedly develop breast cancer and her "fallopian tubes would no longer function." Adding insult to injury, the woman paid him almost $100,000 for these "prayer sessions." I hate to blame the victim, but is there ANYTHING that woman wouldn't believe? At the trial Golossian complained of chest pains and had to be hospitalized. The doctors determined he was "trying to pervert the course of justice…
Categories: Con Artists Comments (4)
You know this man?
Posted by The Curator on Tue Jul 22, 2008
He's African Con-Cheater: His talent as a Con-Man makes him luring people into a "business-partnership" with him that will allow him to withdraw all money you have deposited into "His" account. If you help bring him to justice, you will receive 50% of the recovered money. Too bad he's probably already spent it all! Sent in by Norbert Harms, to whom lovemeadow.com is registered.
Categories: Con Artists Comments (5)
Horse Theft Scam
Posted by The Curator on Tue Jul 15, 2008
Horse thievery used to be a huge problem. After the American Civil War it became so rampant in the West that it inspired the creation of a vigilante group that called itself the Anti Horse Thief Association. This group had, at one point, 30,000 members. But horse theft is something I thought became obsolete with the widespread adoption of automobiles. Apparently not. Authorities in Tennessee are warning of a modern-day horse theft scam. People are showing up at farms claiming to be from Horse Haven (a humane organization for horses). They say they're there to take away the horses. Horse Haven does occasionally seize horses, if the horses are being neglected or harmed,…
Categories: Animals, Con Artists, Scams Comments (4)
How to break into a museum
Posted by The Curator on Wed Jun 04, 2008
This story is a great example of the truism that no security system can be better than the people operating it. Thieves broke into a museum at the University of British Columbia and stole gold artwork worth over $2 million. They got around the security system simply by calling the guards, pretending to be from the alarm company, and telling them to ignore any alarms that might go off that night. From cbc.ca: Four hours before the break-in on May 23, two or three key surveillance cameras at the Museum of Anthropology mysteriously went off-line. Around the same time,…
Brother Roshan Wants Your Donations!
Posted by The Curator on Thu Jan 24, 2008
Canadian police are searching for two men who "falsely represented themselves as a spiritual healer and his assistant." Which raises the question: what counts as a real spiritual healer? The healer guy advertised himself on the radio as Brother Roshan. He used a magic trick to con his victims out of money. CTV.CA reports: Roshan wrote the names of each of his client's family members on each egg. He then placed the eggs in a covered pot of boiling water. Once they were cooked, he took out each egg and broke them open. When he opened the…
Categories: Con Artists, Religion Comments (2)
Fake Fishmongers Terrorize Edinburgh
Posted by The Curator on Fri Nov 16, 2007
Here's a case for the Streater sisters to tackle. Scotsman.com reports that: FAKE fishmongers are continuing to operate in Edinburgh, targeting residents in Newington and Fairmilehead in the past week, according to Trading Standards. It seems that these scam artists are wrapping Vietnamese catfish in polystyrene and cling film, then labeling it as "monkfish fillet," and using high-pressure sales techniques to get random people on the street to buy the phony fish. Up to three of them might surround a customer at a single time. Reportedly, "a person in Newington paid £90 for fish, while another paid almost…
Categories: Con Artists Comments (5)
Hypnotist Robbers
Posted by The Curator on Tue Oct 02, 2007
A New Hampshire convenience store clerk claims that he was robbed. However, the thieves didn't use any weapons or threats. Instead, they used hypnosis and mind control to make the clerk not notice that they were taking more than $1000. First coast news reports: It started with a simple mind game. Think of a wild animal, they say, and we'll write down what's in your mind. but it escalates quickly to very personal information about a former girlfriend, and finally, says Patel, mind control. Even investigators are persuaded. Patel says that the…
New From Elliot: Brooklyn Bridge Scams
Posted by The Curator on Thu Aug 30, 2007
Elliot's latest addition to the Hoaxipedia details scams involving the Brooklyn Bridge. I like this one in particular: In 1886, not long after the Brooklyn Bridge opened, another famous scam was perpetrated by a Brooklyn bookie named Steve Brodie. According to the story, Brodie’s scam originated in a bet with a Brooklyn bartender named Chuck Connors. The bookie wagered Connors that he could jump off the Brooklyn Bridge and survive the fall. Steve Brodie ultimately won the bet and wound up becoming a major New York City celebrity and legend. It was discovered years later that Brodie had actually pushed…
Categories: Con Artists, Places Comments (5)
Fake Money For Strippers
Posted by The Curator on Mon Aug 27, 2007
Damon Armagost probably thought he had a pretty good scam going. He had printed up some fake $100 bills from an image he downloaded off the internet. He was then using this counterfeit money to pay for lap dances at a strip club. He must have thought the strippers would never notice the money was fake. Unfortunately for him, they did and alerted the police, who arrested Armagost and charged him with manufacturing and passing counterfeit currency. Carl Sifakis, in his book Hoaxes and Scams, reports on a similar scam called "tishing a lady." It involves paying a prostitute with tissue paper instead…
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